Please Don’t Worry About Me in the Rain

(Days 79 to 89)

Sometimes, trekking through the woods means you’re going to get wet…

…so pull on those soggy socks and get to walking, kid.

One of the things I’ve heard most often from loved ones since getting on trail is “Every time it storms, I think about you being out in the bad weather”. I appreciate the concern, but getting caught in the rain is an inevitable part of this journey. 

I’ve come to realize that thru-hiking is an exercise in embracing discomfort, more than anything else. You don’t need to be incredibly fit or particularly special to complete a thru-hike, but you do need to be stubborn enough to willingly suffer every now and again. For every beautiful moment, there’s a moment of exhaustion, frustration, pain or boredom.

I don’t think it’s possible to complete this trail without embracing that sometimes the conditions are just going to suck. Plain and simple. Or at the very least, if embracing the suck is too much to ask, one must at least settle into a begrudging acceptance. We are, afterall, at the mercy of the trail. 

The past few weeks, we’ve been subjected to all kinds of fun conditions. 

  • Heat wave? ✔️
  • Pouring rain and crazy winds? ✔️
  • Rocks, rocks and more rocks? ✔️
  • Bugs of the stinging and biting variety? ✔️

Frankly, there have been a handful of instances where I’ve hated it here. My legs hurt. My feet are swollen. I’m just too fucking hot. How the hell did I even get a bug bite on the bottom of my foot!? I just want to throw down my poles and curse the trail. And frankly, sometimes I do just that – looking at you, New York section of the AT. 

I’m having fun. No really, I am. 

However, ever the eternal optimist, I’ve found the wretched, miserable, sucky stuff is also fun somehow. It’s a true conundrum that I’ve yet to fully unpack. I either have a dark sense of humor or I’m excellent at gaslighting myself, but I figure you can either curse the rain or you can choose to jump in the puddles. I try my best to jump in the puddles. 

Type 2 fun is real. In fact, some of my best trail stories are born out of moments of struggle and strife. It’s often the most ridiculous, unfortunate circumstances that I look back on most fondly.

Take the day I hiked 30 miles. (Ackchyually, 29.7 trail miles, but there was a 0.5 mile road walk to where we camped, so it counts, okay!? Let me have this.) This was primarily motivated by the promise of a burger, fries and milkshake at the end. 

The destination was Trent’s Grocery, which closed at 7PM. I knew there was no way I would make it in time, but thankfully I was hiking with cheetahs, and they made it there long before me. My trail buddies were tasked with ordering for me, but when they went to put in the order at 6:30PM to ensure my food was as fresh as possible for my arrival, they discovered that the kitchen had closed. I received a text with the bad news right as I arrived to town. Deflated and exhausted, I arrived at the camping spot. I was just beginning to set up my tent when the universe decided, “You know what? We could make this moment even more tragic.” And then the sky opened up and poured on me and my partially constructed tent. I literally just looked up at the sky, shaking my fist and yelling, “YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME.”

I’M FINE. EVERYTHING IS FINE.

I can’t tell this story now without laughing. I mean the whole thing was too ridiculous. Of course, that’s what happened! The law of thru-hiking is Murphy’s law – what can go wrong, will go wrong. Being angry wasn’t going to make a warm meal appear nor was it going to make me dry. All that was left was to laugh at the absurdity of it all. 

I love this example because I think it’s the perfect showcase of my attitude towards this whole experience. Sometimes, more often than I would like, things are not going to go my way. It’s going to rain. It’s going to be so hot that it feels like my face is melting off. I’m going to fall (no matter how many times Picky tells me, “Trip, don’t fall!”). I’m going to be uncomfortable.

I’ve decided there is no sense in fighting it. I look for the humor in the horror and keep on walking.

That being said, on the note of suffering… for the love of God, can someone please make a trail runner for wide-footed folks!?

What I refuse to embrace is the inability to find a trail shoe that works for me. Weather I can’t control, so fine, I’ll respect the wild. But shoes? C’mon, Topo, Altra, Hoka – get your shit together please. Please. PLEASE! 😭

I am on my fifth pair of shoes. That’s right, FIFTH PAIR. Not only that, but I’m on my fourth make/model combination. While variety may be the spice of life, when it comes to hiking shoes, it’s merely the recipe for a foot full of blisters. As it turns out, I’m essentially the Goldilocks of hiking footwear. No matter what I try, it’s never “just right”.

I started out with the Altra Lone Peaks. I liked the wide toe box, but there wasn’t enough cushion and the zero drop hurt my ankles. I then tried out the Topo Ultraventures. They felt the best on my feet, but they began to fall apart after only 100 miles. And when I say fall apart, I mean the tread pads on the bottom legitimately started to become unadhered. Not only was that annoying, but it was also a tripping hazard for someone who is already prone to falling. When I reached out to Topo, they did replace my pair, but they told me the Ultraventures were not meant for thru-hiking. However, their other trail runner models don’t come in a wide.

Turns out duct tape CAN’T fix everything.

Then I tried the Hoka Speedgoats. I liked the cushion, and I appreciated that the wide size came in more than one bland color. But unfortunately, the wide model was still too narrow for my feet. Finally, I landed on the Merrell Antora which seem to be working out the best so far. I don’t think I’ll make it to Katahdin in this exact pair since it’s far too many miles left (which means I’m going to end up going through six pairs by the end), but I think this model is finally good enough to keep my feet happy for the remainder of the hike. 

What a struggle though. There has to be a better way! If someone wants to partner up to develop a line of truly wide trail runners, please let me know. I’m 1000% in support of this effort, and I’ve already got a great name – Duck Feet! Our feet are only getting bigger so why this isn’t already a thing, I’ll never understand. 

And now, a cheesey little poem by a sentimental little hiker.

Please don’t worry about me in the rain.

Please don’t worry about my aches and pains.

Please don’t worry about me when mosquitos swarm.

Please don’t worry about me when it is far too warm.

 

There will be highs and there will be lows.

Some days I’ll go fast and some I’ll go slow.

Even when walking miles is mundane,

I know I will make it up to Maine.

And when I finally summit Mount Katahdin,

I’ll look back and smile at how far I’ve gotten.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 11

  • Dee : Jul 9th

    I hear you girl and Oboz sawtooth shoe with a large toe box has been gotten this girl hiking even with peripheral neuropathy (i.e., burning feet from nerve damaged caused by chemo tx.). They atelier in milage, but never have these 8.5 wide feet gotten a blister.

    Reply
  • Dee : Jul 9th

    I hear you girl and Oboz sawtooth shoe with a large toe box has been gotten this girl hiking even with peripheral neuropathy (i.e., burning feet from nerve damaged caused by chemo tx.). They are lower in mileage, but never have these 8.5 wide feet gotten a blister.

    Reply
  • Amy : Jul 9th

    Love the poem at the end.

    Even off trail life has its ups and downs.

    Keep going. You got this.

    Reply
  • Audra : Jul 9th

    Love your attitude and your blog. Keep on walkin.

    Reply
  • jen l : Jul 9th

    You got the spirit that we are all looking for. Keep on trucking. If you need a place to stay in VT, hit me up.

    Reply
  • Jimmy : Jul 10th

    Tragedy + Time = Comedy

    Reply
  • Lauri : Jul 10th

    Dema, so very proud and in awe of your will, determination and amazing attitude. You truly are a force and such a bad ass! You are just the best! Be safe and keep on keeping on YOU GOT THIS!!! Xoxo

    Reply
  • Shawn Crose : Jul 10th

    North face Vectiv futurelight was the most comfortable hiker out of the box I ever put on.I bought them for the 8 mile hike on Kauai to hanakapi’ai falls.They were life savers..maybe shoe goo where the toe protector meets the fabric.

    Reply
  • Carolyn Walker : Jul 10th

    I thru-hiked in 2018, have wide feet and suffered with Altras and Merrills (agony). Finally after 700 painful miles ordered customized Chacos – wide width, cloud Z footbed, had them sent to me at a hostel in Virginia, and wore with 2 pairs of thin socks in a lame effort to keep my feet from getting too filthy. I needed a new pair by New York, and made it to Katahdin in those. Had both pairs resoled after the hike and still wear them today. The Chacos were great on the rocks, I didn’t need camp shoes, I never had to put on wet shoes, and my feet never hurt again. They saved my hike.

    Reply
  • David B Groce : Jul 10th

    Another fabulously composed post. Thank you for continuing to take the time and continuing to invest the effort required to keep us virtual followers updated!!

    Reply
  • Madeye Mickey : Jul 12th

    Altra does a wide toe box in a trail runner, Hoka One Speedgoat makes a wide size also. I have giant feet and these shoes have worked well for me. Keep trucking!

    Reply

What Do You Think?