Day 50: Rain

Rain, Rain, Go Away

It rained all night. No problem.

It rained when I ate breakfast and packed up. No problem.

It was still raining when I started hiking. Now that’s a problem.

Yeah, yeah, I know. No rain, no pain, no Maine. I know I’ll get my share of rainy days, but nothing says I have to like them.

Jacket or No Jacket

I have a little routine I go through when it starts to rain on me while hiking. For light rain, I just get wet, figuring my body heat will keep me dry. For heavy rain, especially if it’s cold, I’ll pull out my rain gear. If it’s warm enough, I’ll let the rain give me a shower no matter how hard it pours.

When squalls of varying intensity roll though, bringing surges of wind and cold air, I get frustrated, taking my pack on and off to get out and stow my rain gear. Guess which kind of rain I had today.

I started out in a light rain without a rain jacket because I had a 1,200-foot climb that I knew would get me overheated. But then the rain’s intensity picked up, so I added my rain hat. Then I took off my long sleeve shirt and put on my rain jacket, but left it unzipped because I was already sweating.

Jacket or No Jacket, Doesn’t Matter

By the time I finished the climb, my upper body and head were soaked from sweat and rain. My feet and lower body were soaked partly from the rain, but mostly from the long, wet grass and the brush along the overgrown trail.

Hiking Wet

I’ve hiked wet before. It’s unpleasant, because there’s no dry place to sit and take a break, and because I had to stow my phone, which meant no music, audiobooks, or peeking at the map to see what’s coming. I was alone with my thoughts and the wet, dripping woods.

The rain also made a difficult section of trail much worse. Poor drainage turned the trail into a long pond in flat sections and a flowing stream wherever it was sloped. Rain weighed down the trees, making them hang low over the trail and making me duck and dodge to avoid getting a face-full of wet leaves. The low clouds, rain, and mist also blocked any views that might have been along the ridge.

The rocks and roots got slipperier too. I caught myself dozens of times, but had my first fall when I stepped on a sloped slab of rock and both feet went right out from under me. I landed well, catching myself in a pushup position, but my face and hands were buried in the trailside brush. Being me, my first thought was “Poison Ivy!,” but it was just brambles.

After an hour, I was drenched. My pants and shirt clung to my skin. Water squished out of my socks and shoes with every step. I’d given up trying to avoid the long puddles since my feet couldn’t get any wetter.

It Could Be Worse

And then it got cold.

I was chilled enough to start thinking about hypothermia. I wasn’t there yet, but I could see it in the distance. My kit includes an emergency kit for hypothermia, but I’d need to find or make a shelter for it to be effective. So, I kept an eye on it and kept walking and eating to generate heat.

Things You See in the Rain

By noon, I’d passed at least ten tents still set up while their occupants waited out the rain. Same for the shelters.

Of course, since my phone was stowed inside my pack, I saw tons of cool fungi, and a zoo-full of animals. I logged my first orange speckled salamanders, a half-dozen toads, one mole (drowned, on the trail), a box turtle, enough snails to feed a hungry Frenchman, and four deer. I tried out my “Stop!” command on the last deer, and sure enough, it worked again. After I finish thru-hiking, I’m going to rent myself out to hunters.

The rain slowed to a drizzle by noon, although the trees kept dripping and the overhanging brush was still wet until I entered a more open part of the woods that had been better maintained. Just then, Colin Farrell hiked toward me with a crew of seven slack packers, one of whom was Birdsong whom we’d driven into Marion for a resupply a week earlier.

They must have had a better weather report than I, and had waited until 11:30 to be dropped off for a southbound hike back to Pearisburg, just about the time the rain started to let up. None of them were even wearing rain gear, and they looked at me astonished and baffled about how I’d gotten so wet. They weren’t getting rained on, but they were about to enter the splash zone of wet grass and dripping, overhanging vegetation. They’d be soaked in an hour.

Hikers Hike

We stopped and chatted about the forecast, noting the number of tents we’d seen with people sitting out the weather. When someone asked why we were out here, one of the guys shrugged and said, “Hikers hike.”

It was a hard day. The trail was rocky, overgrown, and not well maintained. It was wet and cold. There were no views at the top of the steep climbs. But hikers hike. And that’s the only way to get to Maine.

Daily Stats:

  • Start: Pocahontas Road (Mile 641.4)
  • End: Big Stony Creek Rd (Mile 659.1)
  • Weather: Rain. More Rain.
  • Earworm: I am not cured. County Road, Take Me Home (thanks for that, Northstar)
  • Meditation: Mt. 5
  • Plant of the Day: Wet grass, wet trees.
  • Best Thing: Wildlife
  • Worst Thing: Too rainy to take pictures of wildlife

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Comments 6

  • thetentman : May 31st

    After a while, you can only get so wet. Once you realize this Hypothermia is the only worry except for slips and falls.

    And then tomorrow it will be sunny and hot and you might miss the rain.

    Be careful what you wish for.


    • Jon : Jun 1st

      Sound advice.

      • Kevin : Jun 4th

        You look like Jeffrey Epstein 🫣
        Happy pride 🌈 munf 💯👈🏿

        • Jon : Jun 5th

          Uh. Before or after he was murdered? 😉

  • Debbie Carney : May 31st

    You’re the deer whisperer. ; )

    • Jon : Jun 1st



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