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Clothing for early July hiking in North Cascades

Cincinnati, Ohio
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Clothing for early July hiking in North Cascades

My wife and I will be hiking in North Cascades and later in Mt. Rainier N.P. in early July 2018. We are from Cincinnati. Will we need hiking boots or can we just use our cross-trainers if we want to do "average" trails. We will probably stay away from snow pack trails. Is there an issue with sliding on gravel with "gym shoes"? In addition, we only have bulky winter coats here or light weight jackets for our winter wear in Cincinnati. We are considering buying "technical" clothing ( light weight down filled jackets ) that can be compressed into bags while hiking if it gets too hot. A waste of effort or not? It is hard to get temps at altitude (inside the parks at altitude ) for the summer period or maybe I haven't found the right website.

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Seattle, Washington
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1. Re: Clothing for early July hiking in North Cascades

I'll always recommend hiking boots for the trails in the mountains. Of course, many people simply wear cross-trainers and get through their hikes just fine. But there's simply no replacing a good firm lug-soled boot for added stability and to help with the rocky, rooty, otherwise uneven trails that snake up and down the mountains. Poles would be the other thing - although I hiked area trails for more than a decade without them and wasn't the worse for the wear. Many people are perfectly happy never using poles. Their value is particularly high for people with knee injuries or for hikers who simply will be heading down some long, steep downhill stretches of trail. The third (and fourth) points of contact spread the load a bit and significantly enhance your stability and reduce the significant pressure exerted on the tendons and ligaments in your knees when stepping downhill over roots, boulders, and the like.

The boots are strongly recommended - the poles, at my current age (60+) are mandatory for me, but my wife and I hiked through our late 40's and our 50's without them and did fine (well, one turned ankle that might have been prevented with poles).

Check out the wta.org website (Washington Trails Association) for other advice on what you need to hike in our mountains, whether you're looking at day hikes, or overnighters, or extended treks into the wilderness. You'll read about the ten essentials to have in your backpack - a good starting point. Particularly on the trails above 5000' on Rainier or in the Cascades or Olympics, having emergency layers of clothing/gloves/hats/thermal blankets, etc. is pretty important to have.

You likely won't need down filled jackets, just several layers that you can quickly put on and remove, including one waterproof/windscreening layer. There's a lot of lightweight clothing out there that performs amazing feats of temperature retention and wind/water repellency (and sun block as well) - not all of it costs a lot. If you have an REI close to you, check them out. You can also visit their HQ here and have fun browsing around that store (and most of their clerks are VERY knowledgable and will help make sure you have only what you need, not what is possible).

Check out the website ... it will be very helpful (wta.org - start with the "Trail Smarts" tab under "Go Outside").

Also, one pet peeve. Many hikers fail to learn correct right-of-way etiquette on trails in North America. As odd as it may seem sometimes, downhill hikers yield to uphill hikers when the trail is too narrow to pass easily. I can't tell you how many people I've met who passionately believe it's the other way around - which creates mild confusion sometimes on the trail. Not a huge issue - but one that is helpful to be more educated about (or better educated about ...).

Edited: 05 March 2018, 05:19
Bellingham...
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2. Re: Clothing for early July hiking in North Cascades

I grew up in Western WA, have spent 40+ years here, and I hike "average trails" in regular ol' running shoes. Many people I have more specific hiking footwear, but I wouldn't buy it just for this trip. Same with tech clothing. Never owned any, wouldn't buy any. Layers of standard clothing are fine.

Which trails are you thinking of hitting? Early July is very much early season hiking in the Cascades.

Btw, never heard of any hiking "right of way etiquette". Really just a matter of people being thoughtful, and often the trail dictates who yields to whom.

~ Colleen

Edited: 05 March 2018, 05:41
Seattle, Washington
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3. Re: Clothing for early July hiking in North Cascades

Sheer madness. No trail etiquette?

It does exist, and is helpful - particularly on the more popular trails and those that have long stretches of very narrow pathways. We've been aware of it for all of our hiking years, of which almost 20 have now been in the PNW. Often you make eye contact and silently, or quickly & verbally ("after you" or "go ahead" ...) reach some agreement about how to pass. Often, the uphill hikers will be tired and all-too-happy to yield the way - I'm often one of them. But the default is "down yields to up" and is what you should be prepared to do when encountering people on tight trails.

Bellingham...
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4. Re: Clothing for early July hiking in North Cascades

I didn't say "no trail etiquette", Dave, I said "right of way etiquette". I'm not familiar with what you're mentioning and find that the yielding is more organic. Might depend on the situating of the trail or the make-up of the parties, e.g. younger people deferring to older people, a group letting a solo hiker edge past, making more room for a family with littles. And so on. The primary madness any more on trails is the proliferation of people who bring dogs on trails where they shouldn't be, and/or let them off leash.

~ C.

Seattle, Wa
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5. Re: Clothing for early July hiking in North Cascades

You can debate about how important it is in the grand scheme of all the (lack of) trail etiquette that's out there, but downhill travelers yielding to uphill is an established, known part of trail etiquette, just like there is a horse-hiker-biker pecking order in terms of yielding.

https://www.rei.com/blog/hike/trail-etiquett…

OP, you likely aren't going to be able to avoid snow. Or I suppose you could, but you'd have to go out of your way to avoid good trails. Some people do fine in gym shoes (not me, but generally people hiking the entire Pacific Crest Trail are only in lightweight shoes, though they also often have poles), but your feet will get wet and you will have poor traction. If you are only going a half mile it probably doesn't matter much. If you were hoping to do more it will be annoying.

Seattle, Wa
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6. Re: Clothing for early July hiking in North Cascades

Similar answer for clothes. If you're just going to do a short hike at Paradise with lots of other tourists, and maybe even turn back when you've walked in the snow a bit, I think most any clothes will be fine. Hat and gloves might be nice. If you were planning on doing significant hiking or getting away from the main visitor areas my answers would be different.

Washington State
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7. Re: Clothing for early July hiking in North Cascades

I am also a boot-hiker, but that's just me. Wearing them makes it easy to stay on the trail even in puddles. Hiking poles have been the best addition to my equipment, and I also wear & carry layers. July could be warm or snowing; be prepared.

Uphill hikers are generally looking down at their feet as they trudge up hill (I know that I am!) Downhill hikers can easily see the 'big picture' and will notice uphill hikers headed toward them. Allowing them to continue to trudge up the hill is appropriate.

My horse-trail etiquette is to call ahead to the horseman and ask what he/she where he/she would like me to be. There is no way I want to be in the wrong place next to an animal that big!

Eastsound...
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8. Re: Clothing for early July hiking in North Cascades

Add me to the list of folks peeved by hikers not following the yield to the uphill hiker etiquette. I've been on the trails in Washington since the 70s and have seen many improvements in gear over the years and would recommend getting at least a long and short sleeved tech shirt if possible. I always wear boots (snow melt in July can be muddy) and bring the 10 essentials.

Bellevue, Washington
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9. Re: Clothing for early July hiking in North Cascades

It can be a mixed bag in the North Cascades in the summer. You can have beautiful and hot one day and cold rainy day the next. Plus, bugs are always a problem in summer. I always hike with the following clothing on long day hikes or backpack trips:

lightweight SS synthetic or wool t-shirt

one LS synthetic sun/bug shirt (prefer snap or button front with collar that can turn up) (e.g ex-officio type travel shirt)

synthetic hiking shorts or running shorts - or pants with zip off legs (nice for bugs)

layering vest, fleece, or down sweater

Rain jacket / rain pants (I leave the pants home if only on short hikes on a sunny day)

Hat (for sun cover or rain)

three socks - sounds excessive, but wet socks are the worst and I always keep one pair dry for emergencies

gloves (for cool mornings)

for backpack trips, I add one layering piece for cold nights and a lightweight sleep shirt with hood

Note, leave anything cotton in your vehicle or at home

Best case is you won't need the rain gear and extra layers

Worst case is you'll have enough clothing to keep you alive if lost overnight.

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Bellevue, Washington
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10. Re: Clothing for early July hiking in North Cascades

Regarding boots/shoes: I usually hike in low top trail shoes like Oboz, Merrill, etc. I've tried trail runners but my feet get sore from all the rocks on a long hike. I wear waterproof boots with gaiters and microspikes if I expect snow hiking. I always take trekking poles if I expect snow or extremely steep trails

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