Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Say there, Mr. PCT hiker, what's it like hiking in the rain?

It sucks. It freaking sucks.

[This post was written on 7/9 after hiking for nearly 12 straight hours in the rain. I woke up to the rain, packed up my stuff in the rain, hiked in the rain, and set up camp in the rain. Every part of me is cold, wet, tired, and hungry- actually that part is just my stomach.]

"Explain yourself" you say? Very well. Go put on all your hiking gear. Go ahead, I'll wait. Yeah, rain gear too (like it will matter). Finished? Now have your friends dump buckets of water on you until you almost- almost but not quite- feel like you went swimming in a lake in all those clothes. Have them dump a bucket or two on your backpack too for good measure. Don't worry. All the important stuff like food, sleeping bag, and electronics are in waterproof containers. OK, now we're going for a hike.

You know that section of the PCT that you're currently hiking? Yeah the one where the elevation vs mileage graph looks like a readout from a heart rate monitor? You still have to hike that. But now it's raining. So about 90% of any section of trail that's flat is now a long puddle a couple inches deep and any up/down sections are now flowing rivers. A couple inches? That's not too bad! Oh wait, you're a PCT hiker. You're likely wearing trail running shoes or boots where the only waterproof part is the rubber sole. "So I'll just walk on the side of the trail and avoid all the puddles." Alright, go ahead. But over there is what we call "hikerwash" (very, very wet plants). It's almost just as bad as stepping in the puddles. And although you are in a forest, the trees aren't providing any significant shelter. No dry spot, no matter how well- sheltered, can maintain its sense of dryness in rain of this duration. Eventually, rain conquers all.

So after about 12 hours of this, you've learned that really the best word to associate with the rain is not "growth" as your kindergarten teacher, mom, Sunday school teacher, or whatever "positive Paula" may have taught you. The best word for the rain is "misery".

So now it's time to set up camp. You were hoping the rain would stop by now, but- Oh wait!- no, it hasn't. It's still pouring down buckets of misery on you. You look for a campsite and your choices are:

A) no shelter from rain
B) no shelter from rain
C) little shelter from rain!..... Crap, my tent won't fit
D) no shelter from rain

Let's go with B. As soon as you get out your tent it sounds like the drum line in a marching band. You set it up as quickly as possible yet setting it up requires you to temporarily expose the mesh netting to the elements. In the end, your tent is set up but with a couple puddles inside. You curse the world, shove your stuff inside, and sit down in one of the puddles. And as liquid misery shakes your tent all night long you pray that the thin membrane above your head doesn't have a leak somewhere or the morning will be much worse. You twist and contort your body in weird positions all night long to keep the sleeping bag away from the condensated walls of your tent but with little success. Good night!


  1. Sounds miserable. And the forecast doesn't help much when you can't get it because you don't have cell coverage.
    Isn't there some irony in this, that you're getting drenched in a state having a historic drought. Little comfort I know.

  2. Bummer. Could be a good time to entertain one of those weed offers.

  3. Glad you are having a break and some rest!

  4. Glad you are having a break and some rest!

  5. Three months from now, will the memory be of how exhausting this day/night was or that you conquered everything the PCT threw your way?

    1. Both. But yes, I will be looking back on all of this being happy that I conquered it, but also happy that it's over