The summer solstice is both the longest day of the year in terms of sunlight as well as the official start of summer, regardless of how many times Memorial Day tries to lay claim to the title. The date itself (June 20 this year) and the days that lie immediately before and after are prime time to maximize sunlight and spend time outside with friends.
A few years ago, we chose the summer solstice to hike El Cielo, an imposing peak near our home in Nerja, Spain. The night before, we enjoyed drinks with one of those friends who implored “just one more” each time we tried to head home. Alas, a short night of sleep preceded the longest day of the year.
Waking up was nowhere near the most difficult task of the day. A trek that should have taken five hours took almost every available minute of sunlight. Any romantic notions of a picnic with friends were swept away as we ate for energy rather than enjoyment, and our only beverage was water.
Better planning, provisions and a good night’s rest will lead to a far more pleasant day. Here are some dos and don’ts for a fun nature walk and picnic with friends.
The Great Outdoors Cheat-Sheet
DO wear proper footwear, and remind everyone to do the same. There’s no bigger buzzkill than whining about blisters.
DON’T pick a route that’s too ambitious. Consider everyone’s fitness and endurance levels. Also, choose a trail with alternating areas of sunlight and shade.
DO plan a simple menu in advance. Have each hiker carry and prepare separate dishes or supplies like napkins and plates. Packed sandwiches can get soggy, so it’s better to assemble them at your destination.
DON’T carry heavy glass bottles. Pick out wines available in small boxes or Tetra Paks to minimize weight.
DO remember to drink plenty of water. You can also carry a hydration system like the RoguePak on your back.
DON’T overdrink. A celebratory toast with friends is fine, but alcohol makes most physical activities (except dancing) more difficult.