So… You want to hike, backpack, go play outdoors? Maybe you should decide if this is only to include nice days, or as they are commonly called around here as “not raining” days, or if you are going to go for it and include the wet days, too. No, we aren’t talking the raining sideways, the stout Douglas Fir trees whipping around like 7 year old ballerinas sort of days. Those days you get a pass. When the trees limbs start flying on their own accord, it is wise to stay tucked in, but what about the days the sky just lets loose and you need to make the call, buck? I’m not here to tell you how to hike in the rain. I am here to explain why you should…
Now, there are times I have bitten off more than I could heartily chew, like when my plan to hike past the rain line to the snow line on Valentine’s Day left me wet, cold, and slightly more on the miserable side than I wanted to be. It made me reevaluate my gear and make changes that would provide more comfort the next time, specifically buying a tent without a hole in the bottom and more room for wet gear.
That said, I really do enjoy hiking in the rain and I think just about anyone can as long as the attitude is adjusted to take that nothing is going to be completely bone dry. There truly is something to be said about trudging in the muck and rain and having fun doing it.
The green is just a bit greener, more vibrant, more lush in the rain. When the light hits it, the colors can awe you to a reverence that has you smiling wide and staying quiet. At least, until a icy droplet slides down the back of your jacket and startles a horror movie scream out of you. If the sky isn’t throwing buckets at me, I inevitably toss my hood down so I can hear and see better. I pay for it every time and still I play raindrop roulette.
Most the time, more rain means less people. I have hiked into the Hoh River Valley at the end of May and had droves of people hiking quickstep past us back to the trailhead. All of them said that they had had enough and were leaving. The next day, there were showers, but there were also times of light shafts coming thru the clouds, down on the dancing dust motes, creating magical moments and in their rush to leave, they missed them. All because of a little rain. Okay, I admit, that was a deluge, but it was beautiful!
There have been times I have hiked in the middle of summer, not with a speck nor splat of rain in the forecast, only to have the clouds sneak up on me from behind a mountain. I have found I like the unexpected darkness, a treat and reprieve from the blinding sun, creating a sense of endless age and mystery.
Yes, it pays to be prepared even in August. We were making a summit to Cameron Pass and suddenly November happened. Even on our day hike from our base camp, we had a tarp and rain gear. The rain was like ice and smacked us around like errant intruders. We waited it out snug amongst the wee alpine trees and after getting our bearings, practically ran up the last 200 ft elevation only to find the clouds laughing at us as they flitted away. I gained a goal that day, 6 years in the making, and feel like I earned it all the more for the harsh weather.
Oh, there will be times when you want to go home, you decided it was a bad idea after all. Heaven knows, people may think you are a sandwich short of a picnic. I have certainly heard my share. I can honestly tell you, there is not one trip that I have been on that I regretted. Not even the 4 day beach trip with it’s full of suffocating, damp fog. Yup. Enjoyed that, too.
Sure, the rain can destroy your electronics. I suggest you invest in some sort dry sack or dry case if you have expensive stuff. Or just don’t bring it. Let it all go. I certainly take less photos the harder it is raining and the focus always seems a little off on the ones I do get, but I’m just a snap and shoot sort of gal. May be that you have a little more finesse and find your element out here.
I will swear on a pair of boots, though, being toasty warm in your sleeping bag and listening to the rain pattering on your tent is one of the coolest, most comforting things ever. Drinking a hot cup of coffee in the morning under your tarp is a close second. Just don’t forget the tarp. Just a little thing like not having to compete with the rain while cooking dinner can make the task into a pleasantry.
So, maybe this little story won’t convince you to head out the next time you are feeling cabin fever and it’s coming down outside. Maybe you should just stay in and work around the garage. There is always the living room that needs painting, the kitchen floor that needs mopping, and laundry to be done. Or you can come out here and stomp in puddles, build camps, and climb on downed trees in the rain. You know there are plenty of days where you will be inside and dry. Why does today have to be one of them?