Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Mary Poppins look, on a trail near you!

 In the Alaskan rainforest town of Sitka, the only people carrying umbrellas were tourists. We were tough! We went running in shorts and T-shirts in torrential downpours! We wore rain gear when we had to, hoods cinched down tight, and endured. No wimpy umbrellas for us!
Okay so here I am in Alaska with an umbrella. We were stranded for days in a remote bay, fifty miles from town. The floatplane couldn't get us. Some fun had to be had. Cue the pink umbrella!
I'm not a fan of umbrellas. What's wrong with getting wet? But in the land of long distance hikes, I've learned, there are people who swear by their trekking umbrellas. They love them with a passion. Not only can umbrellas allow you to hike in the desert without roasting to a crisp, they can provide some shelter from day after day of rain slogging. It's a whole different experience, Scout said, to hike with an umbrella keeping you mostly dry rather than rain pelting your head, running down the space between your pack and your back, soaking the pack contents despite your best efforts, resulting in a soggy pile of drippy rain gear to deal with at camp. 

Scout gifted me with a GoLite umbrella and I am eyeing it with curiosity. You can attach it to your pack and hike on. I have to say, I'm intrigued. This past summer we were drenched over and over by relentless rain in the Cascades. We still would have gotten wet with umbrellas, but not as wet. It might have helped in the baseball sized hail where we just huddled and screamed in pain. And what about that lovely misty rain where you stall in putting on your rain jacket, because well, you're going to sweat in it, and get just as wet? So you wait, and get wet. Surely an umbrella might be a useful tool. You might be able to avoid rain gear altogether, or at least avoid the dance of rain jacket on, rain jacket off.

Other hikers have suggested uses for umbrellas that range beyond the mundane. Shielding you while taking a bio break when trees are not nearby, for example. A makeshift siesta face-cover. Emergency tent prop-up or in place of trekking poles for tents that use them. Portable shade. A plate?

I'm still not sold, but I think I'll tote one on some short hikes and see what I think. 

Umbrella..yes or no?

7 comments:

  1. Sounds pretty useful! How about parasailing (you'll need a sturdy brella that doesn't turn itself inside out) :-)

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  2. I think it would be great if you knew for sure you'd be hiking in open spaces without trees and stuff to snag the umbrella. Hail would probably kill that thing though. I think it's too much of a pain for me to think about carrying, but if I was in a different area of the country it might really be useful. Keep us posted.

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  3. In the umbrella experiences I've had, they only work if there's now wind. I find a raincoat and rain pants much more effective if I'm out for a hike.

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  4. I have a friend who never goes without one. She is beginning to convince me.

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  5. I used one hiking in the Hoh Rain Forest up in Olympic National Park. It helped keep my head and shoulders dry. And most importantly - it protected my camera so I could get photos!

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  6. I can't image carrying an umbrella on the trails where I hike. Below the tree line it would get in the way. Above the tree line the chances that it's not too windy for an umbrella to be usable are pretty slim.

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    Replies
    1. Some great comments here, both pro and anti. I guess I will take it out sometime this spring and let you know what happens.

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