Sunday, March 6, 2016

Liquid Sunshine

When I lived in Sitka, in an attempt to convince tourists that omnipresent rain was okay, various marketing strategies called the downpours "Sitka sunshine" or "liquid sunshine." Clad in free ponchos given out by the cruise lines, the tourists huddled under umbrellas and didn't seem to agree.

I got to a point, living there, where I sort of liked the rain. Our island was a complete, closed off planet, foggy and mysterious. I graduated from running in full-on rain gear to just shorts and a T-shirt. We camped, hiked, and kayaked in the rain. It was just our backdrop.

Apparently in other parts of the country it is now "spring." Friends are giddily recounting warm temperatures, flowers, and clear trails. Where I live now, there is no such creature. What we get instead is a sullen mix of snow and rain, in tandem with high winds. It's a daily chore to trudge outside and see what has blown into your yard from the neighbors' and what you have lost forever. A couple of years ago the spring winds reached one hundred miles an hour.

This is the hardest season for an outdoors gal, because the rain is still falling as snow in the mountains, but the skiing has gone downhill. The nearby trails have turned to ice. I hear rumors of spring in Hells Canyon, but the access roads have turned greasy from rain. Last week I woke up to three inches of new snow. It'll be like this through April, probably, and snow in May is not unheard of.

But this is the tradeoff for a brief and perfect alpine summer, so I guess I will take it. I ventured out yesterday in hopes of a trail run, but the ice drove me to the campground. Surprisingly, there were people camped gamely in the rain, albeit with RVs to shelter in.

The only picture I took while running yesterday (I usually don't take pictures). Blurry, but shows the whole rain/fog thing.

I attempted to set up my new tent in the living room, but the cat loves to attack tents, so it didn't happen.

Set up this tent at your own risk.

In the end, I care too much about being outside to let rain stop me. I'm that crazy lady on the moraine with a smile on her face. I think. Probably. Maybe?
Hmm....

19 comments:

  1. I'm pretty used to running in the rain too, but the storm that blew through here yesterday was pretty intense. I managed to get my run done just as it started pouring. Matt ran in the afternoon in the middle of it: 50 degrees and 40mph winds and downpour. When he walked back in the door, I ran to the bathroom and grabbed him a towel and bucket. Is there a degree of wet beyond soaked? Because he was that.

    I'm not so much jealous of the spring my friends in other places have, but the summers. If I'm not exercising, it's not warm enough to wear shorts here and that's sort of a bummer, so I hear you on the lackluster springtime.

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    1. Good for Matt, he is tougher than I am. I feel your pain on the shorts. I don't think they ever came out in Sitka. Bonus though, I bet you look a lot younger than other women your age who are in the sun more.

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  2. Ah, the changes in weather time, it is here in Alaska as well. My temps. have been high 20'a at night to +50 during the day. Now, it is forecasting rain and snow mixed or snow in the morning and rain in the evening. Either way, I don't win but, that is life in the Last Frontier.

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    1. That's a big range. I wonder what the fire season will be like up there.

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    2. I'm pretty sure it will be dry last year and dangerous. We have already had one fire started by someone burning trash.

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  3. re: ski skins

    They're called skins because they were originally made out of seal skin. When sliding forward the hairs smooth out and you have pretty good glide. When you start to slide backwards the hairs stand up giving lots of resistance. For a long time now they've been made out of synthetic material such as mohair.

    Maybe you should take a few beginning ski lessons. Might not take much to get comfortable with some speed on OK trails and learn tricks to a strong snowplow. A lot of it is balance. Do I recall that you didn't start biking until later in life but now enjoy it?

    re: yurts

    When they aren't off on multi-week wilderness trips with their kids, Erin and Hig live in a yurt in Seldovia:

    http://www.adn.com/article/20130921/living-remote-seldovia-yurt-still-very-connected-modern-alaska

    http://www.groundtruthtrekking.org/About/

    Tom
    Fairbanks

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  4. Interesting to know about skins..I did not know the history. I do think this kind of trip is a one time thing. I enjoy cross country skiing so much more, and I am fairly comfortable with the hills I encounter. I just don't have a lot of desire to ski backcountry. I'm glad I went though, just to try it. Will check out that article.

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  5. In the PNW, I've learned if you don't venture outside on rainy days, you miss a lot. I don't mind running and hiking in the rain, but skiing is where I draw the line...

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    1. Now that I am on the "dry side", I have gotten spoiled, but I have definitely been where you are. Running is great in the rain, I think. I have a hiking umbrella I haven't used yet, but there is an opportunity, I think.

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  6. WAIT...... New Tent?!? (Carol)

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    1. Haha!!! Only you would get this!

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    2. I wondered also. Looking forward to your review. I'm eyeing one that has a separate bug net with CF tarp. I like that you can use just the bug shelter 99% of time and that the CF is lighter and easier to deal with after a rain. The only disengage is not freestanding. In a plus though you set up the tarp first in rain and clip in bug shelter underneath much better than my BA Copper Spur. Oh gear!

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    3. I wondered also. Looking forward to your review. I'm eyeing one that has a separate bug net with CF tarp. I like that you can use just the bug shelter 99% of time and that the CF is lighter and easier to deal with after a rain. The only disengage is not freestanding. In a plus though you set up the tarp first in rain and clip in bug shelter underneath much better than my BA Copper Spur. Oh gear!

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    4. I'm curious about that setup. I have to say I have largely abandoned my non free standing UL tent though I still use it when conditions are 100% perfect. I realized I am someone impatient with tent fiddling.

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  7. I just heard liquid sunshine for the first time in Milford Sound!! I loved the spin. I hate the in-between season too. What tent did you get???

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    1. It's a Nemo Hornet one person. It's really lightweight and has a side door. There aren't a lot of reviews on it, so it will be interesting to see how it holds up. It is somewhat tall but not super wide. I got a good deal on it, and I am addicted to gear, so it seemed like a good time to get another one. Once I sell one of my car camping tents, I will be down to 2 one person tents and 2 2 person tents. But honestly, most are several years old and I use the heck out of them. So...that's my justification for owning 4 tents.

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  8. I remember trying to set up a tent in the yard with my brothers when we were kids. Our cats would jump on it and attack it like their lives depended on it. What is with cats and tents? :)

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    1. That's funny! One of the cats could care less. The other is a menace!

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