Outwitting the heat of summer

We’ve been blessed with great weather this spring. Of course, we experienced our fair share of disturbances that brought along precipitation, and a few thunderstorms, but that should be expected. Other than that, pretty much the entire state has seen comfortable temperatures — not too hot and not too cold.

But how things have changed during the last week or so. We’ve been plagued with record-breaking highs, and the forecast suggests that this particular heat wave has settled in for a while.

Even when the high pressure that is hovering over the state decides to move along, I suspect more miserable highs lurk in the near future. But I suppose this too should be expected, as the months that notoriously bring with them sultry and unforgiving conditions approach.

So what to do? I’ll be the first to suggest that spending time in the outdoors during the brunt of summer is hardly enjoyable. In fact, those who are out and unprepared during the hottest portions of the day are literally in danger of falling prey to the conditions.

However, that’s no indication that I am remotely suggesting that we hole up in our houses until the return of more tolerable weather. Don’t get me wrong: I wouldn’t hold it against my fellow outdoor enthusiasts if they did decide to take refuge until cooler conditions.

But I would suggest that there are many opportunities awaiting during this sultry season. The key is beating the heat, and that is simply a matter of timing.

I’ll be the first to agree that mid-day activities should pretty much come to a halt. However, those who consciously schedule their outings for the early morning or late evening are apt to enjoy the summer months as much as they do the spring and late fall seasons.

Let’s begin with an activity that has steadily been growing in popularity for a number of years. That’s right, I’m talking hiking. Although our recent heat indexes have literally exceeded the century mark, our nighttime lows have, at the least, cooled to a tolerable temperature.

However, even these temperatures often seem far less enjoyable than one might think as a result of high humidity. Despite the humidity, one can still get in a decent walk before the daytime highs grow too much to handle. That being said, it is of utmost importance to remain hydrated regardless of time of day.

One might also consider an evening walk, after the sun has dipped below the horizon. But be aware that one’s time is limited by the amount of remaining daylight, and it might also prove advantageous, especially for those who intend to kick around outside after dark, to recognize that snakes are cold-blooded creatures and cannot control their body temperatures. In turn, many resort to a nocturnal lifestyle when the temperatures exceed their comfort zone.

Now let’s talk a little fishing. I am certainly a proponent of early and being on the water just as the eastern horizon begins to lighten. In fact, this is a great time to find the fish feeding on shad near the surface.

However, these tolerable conditions decline at a pretty quick rate, as the sun climbs higher in the sky.

I am also a strong believer in fishing during the late evening hours In fact, I am more inclined to fish in the evening, as one can actually continue casting into the darkness with success.

So what about mid-day? Well, I have been known to fish when the sun is high in the sky from time to time, as well. But don’t count on seeing me on the lake. Instead, I might choose a crystal-clear creek meandering under the canopy of towering trees during the brunt of the summer. Granted, the fish one might catch are apt to be small, but the fact that I can cool myself in any small pools along the way is icing on the proverbial cake.

Yep, those of us who long to remain in the outdoors during the brunt of summer still have a few options. But regardless of whether we’re picking blackberries, casting our favorite lure, peering through the viewfinder or simply partaking in a walk, the trick is scheduling our outings for the most people-friendly times of the day.

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