Weathering the Rain on the Appalachian Trail

There is a stillness in the woods just before the rain. The silence stretches all around you until the only sound you hear is your own bounding footsteps.

Word got out this morning that rain was in the forecast. Many of your fellow hikers decided to sit this one out. Not you, you’re in this, you can’t stop.

The trail is empty, solitude is yours.

Before you left camp you put on all your rain gear but after about fifteen minutes you felt like you were suffocating and had to strip it off. Now your raincoat is wrapped around your waist so you can quickly put in on once the first drops come down. It’s so hot and humid maybe some cool rain will feel good, plus it will keep the bugs at bay. You work it out in your mind, reason with yourself that you’ll be alright. It is after all just water and your body is made up of the stuff.

You begin to think of all the new life that will spring up, the flowers, the mushrooms, the streams that will be flowing.” Yes, I love the rain”, You’ve started convincing yourself.

Then it begins.

Slowly at first, then hammering down.
Jamie Ratchford Appalachian TrailYou’ve managed to get your jacket on but you’re legs are getting wet. You’ve decided it’s okay. You realize it really is beautiful; the smell of the air, the fog through the trees. “I love the rain!” For the first few minutes you dodge the puddles but your efforts are futile and your feet are getting pretty wet. “Screw it!” You jump into the next puddle you see. Things are going well; you enjoy a surprisingly wonderful walk.

Now its getting dark; the grey clouds seem to draw the night in sooner. You’d better make camp. You check out the landscape, taking notice of which way the ground slopes where puddles might form, checking that the limbs on the trees above you are alive and intact. As quickly as you can you set up your tent. Although you’ve mastered getting it pitched in under sixty seconds, the inside still gets a bit wet. No big deal. You get out your pack towel and wipe out as much as you can.

A great hunger has been worked up and you crave a hot meal. How in the world are you going to cook out in the rain? Peanut butter and jelly it is. You groan internally, maybe even out loud. You’re so sick of peanut butter and jelly!

By now you’re getting chilly. You’ve stopped exerting energy and your body has cooled down. You’d better change into something dry. You try to fit under the vestibule of your tent and quickly realize it’s not very effective. You pull off your jacket and toss it under, pulling down your soaking wet pants as you sit inside your tent, trying very hard to keep your wet muddy boots outside your dry tent. Untying your shoelaces is easy enough but removing your boots without dirtying your hands proves impossible. You peel the socks off your soggy, wrinkled feet, wringing them out in front of you. Phew, they stink! You find your long underwear, the one’s you’ve been imaging sending home the next chance you get. Sliding happily into them you feel glad you carried the extra weight. Not so heavy after all. You sleep soundly through the night. The rain is peaceful and soothing.

The next morning you wake up… and it’s STILL RAINING! You lie there distraught, hoping it will stop soon. The last thing you want to do is go outside when you’re so warm and cozy in the shelter of your cocoon. You end up falling back to sleep. When you wake up again you know you have to get up; mostly because you have to pee and your desire not to wet yourself has conquered your desire to stay dry. You peek outside your tent and realize it’s not raining as hard as you’d thought. It just sounded much worse from inside.

It’s time to put all those cold wet clothes back on. This won’t be easy. You take it slow, working your way to the worst part – the socks. Your thoughts try to betray you, urging you to put on your dry pair but you know deep inside that it’s a trick and they too will just get wet once you put them into your waterlogged boots. Alright, they’re on. It wasn’t as bad as you thought, it was worse!

Jamie Ratchford Appalachian Trail


Now that you’re fully dressed it’s time to pack up the tent. You try to shake it off but that’s pointless. There’s no way around it, that wet bundle has to go inside your pack. You hope it doesn’t get all your things wet as you slide it in amongst your other gear. Good thing you stored everything in plastic bags.


Grumpily you set out down the trail but as soon as you start walking into the new day you realize that everything is okay. You made it through one rainy day, what is another? You accept and move forward. Ready to take on whatever the trail brings next.

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Comments 3

  • Molli : Jun 22nd

    Hi Glorious Laughter! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post here then I saw it was written by someone I knew from the trail…how fun to see it was you! Thanks for the trip back in time to the trail!!! Bad Camel

  • Cosmo Catalano : Jun 25th

    Brings back some great memories! However, putting on the wet, cold shirt is much worse than the sox…

  • Triprolo : Dec 28th



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