From the cool, crisp air to the jewel-toned leaves, fall is definitely a season that inspires people to get out and experience nature. And with critters hurriedly scurrying about making their winter preparations, fall is certainly one of the best seasons for observing wildlife. Whether you spot a squirrel crossing your path on an evening stroll, or you spy a family of bears while out on an autumn hike, here are a few pointers on how to make the most of your nature walks this season:
- Dress appropriately With temperatures dropping (and, let’s face it, unexpectedly rising again, since we’re talking about Alberta), it’s important to dress in layers so you’re prepared for changing temperatures. Carrying lightweight gloves or mittens just in case is always a good idea when embarking on fall adventures, and an emergency toque won’t hurt, either. And if you know you’re going to be exerting yourself, make sure to don your best and most appropriate pair of shoes. Leave the flip flops behind and dig out your sneakers or hiking boots, depending on your selected trail.
- Unplug When you’re in the great outdoors, it’s tempting to document all the sights and sounds you encounter to share with your family and friends (and your Twitter followers). But in order to get the full effect of such natural beauty, I strongly urge you to put the phone away and enjoy everything that you see and hear in real time. Trust me, Facebook will be there and waiting for you when you get back to the real world. (And if you have to document the beauty around you, be sure to limit your screen time to only snapping pictures.)
- Pay attention The wilderness can be a serene oasis, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t risks involved. Being around wildlife means discovering their wild animal behaviours, and you may at one point encounter an aggressive or hungry animal. Pay attention to the sights and sounds around you, and keep an alert eye out for animal tracks and droppings. Not only will this save your footwear from stepping in something unsavoury, it’ll help keep you on your toes if you happen to come across an animal that’s not too pleased to see you. Use these tips to prepare yourself for the off chance of encountering an aggressive animal, and contact AIWC if you encounter an injured animal or if you have any questions about respecting animals’ boundaries during their winter preparations.
- Savour the moment While taking a vigorous nature walk is great for the body, some could argue that the visual aspect of such a jaunt is good for the soul. We’re lucky to be surrounded by such natural beauty in Alberta, and as important as it is to heed to wild animals and respect their environment, it’s just as important to relish what you see. Fall and all of its seasonal beauty is fleeting, and winter is, inevitably, coming. Make the most of these days and savour them with as many nature walks as possible.
By Giselle Wedemire, AIWC Volunteer