Sunday, October 30, 2016

I got caught in a rain storm. The End.

When I lived in the rain forest, in a town where 110 inches of rain fell each year, where over 300 days of the year were overcast, it was just a given that the sun would be a stranger. I owned several types of rain gear: "town gear", which was good for the scurry from the pool to the office, the grocery store to the car; "fishing rain gear", which encompassed the heavy rubber, serious overalls and jacket;  and "hiking rain gear", the most expensive and best rain pants ever manufactured (I tore them fighting fire. Yes, I wore rain gear on a fire, against all safety rules. We all did, when it would start to pour. We couldn't leave the fire until it was out, and since we had been dropped off by floatplane, we had no viable shelter except our tents. Hypothermia was a real threat). There was also "kayaking rain gear", typically a dry suit. Regardless, the rain eventually soaked any gear through.

Here, rain is a mystery. It sometimes falls, but when it does, it rarely lasts. When it lasts for a week, like it has this week, we all feel a bit put out. People stomp around looking less than cheerful. It's funny how quickly I forgot the daily rain existence.
Ruby doesn't care if it rains. I should be more like a dog.
I tried to overcome it. I'd go out anyway! Friday I went on a trail run in the rain. It was moderately successful, but when running on a rocky trail in the rain, the prudent runner slows way down. Saturday a group of us hiked up to the backcountry ski hut to cut firewood and fix the latrine. It rained and the wind blew with such fierceness that I thought to myself: this really is miserable. The newcomers that I had dragged up with me looked perplexed. Time will tell if they go with me on any hikes again.

Our lovely latrine. We decided we could start a company called Hillbilly Crappers R Us.
Today I awoke to an unfamiliar sight--sunshine! I dawdled around the house, counting on it to last, and finally emerged in bike shorts, ready to take on the ride to the head of the lake.

At first, all was fine. October 30th and I was wearing shorts, I marveled. Life was good!  The hill near Chief Joseph's grave felt easy for a change. I passed mile marker 3, then 4. All was still good. Then an ominous cloud appeared over the mountains. Uh-oh, I thought. But then: I was so close to the turn-around point. I had to keep going! Surely it wouldn't....

Suddenly a few drops of rain pelted my helmet. A storm was bearing down. What ensued probably looked hilarious to the car-bound occupants who passed--a lone biker, pedaling for all she was worth, but being overtaken. The sprinkles became a downpour. Soggily I wheeled up to the house.

I pondered my seven year tenure in the rain forest. Maybe I was just tougher then? I used to run in the rain all the time, just wearing a T shirt and shorts. We hiked too, and camped all the time. More likely it's just that you can get used to almost anything.
Our tent in Endicott Arm (near Juneau). After this photo, it rained so much that the floor of the tent soaked through. Good times!
Does it rain a lot where you live? Do you go out anyway?

23 comments:

  1. We spent the weekend in the woods above Lagrande at my husbands clients old lodge and property. It rained hard all day yesterday, I was hiking around with the dogs and got soaked. It was fun cause when I got back to the lodge I got to warm up and dry out by the wood stove and listen to the rain on the old metal roof, I love that sound. By the way the Tamaracks were beautiful, so much gold mixed in with the green of the pines, but that will probably end soon with all this rain.

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    1. That sounds really nice! I even had a fleeting desire to be in a tent...fleeting, but still. I do like hearing rain on a tent.

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  2. I remember one time in particular....running back from the island past the power plant and to the arena. It poured so hard, with lightning, and the bike path was awash over my shoes. Cars passed....I thought perhaps one would stop and give me a ride. Then I realized one of two things was probably happening: They thought runners are crazy anyway and like being out in these conditions, or didn't want to get their car all wet. Survived.

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    1. Lightning! scary. I remember some runs like that.

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  3. Your dog is so cute! Since I live on the Cascade's west side, rain is a constant presence from October through June. But I'm okay with hiking and running in a misty rain. A hard downpour, not so much.

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    1. I'm down with misty rain. We had that in Sitka a lot. until November. NOVEMBER was brutal.

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  4. I've got several sets of rain gear like you described having in SE Alaska. Mine are in three categories:
    1. Looking cute in town
    2. Staying dry while hiking
    3. Holy eff!! only Goretex will suffice

    All our rain falls from October-April, so it's nice to have a dry spell in the summer (but we still get coastal fog and drizzle). It's been miserable this month. We're at 500% of normal for the month of October and SAD has hit me like a ton of bricks.

    The other day, my chiropractor asked if I ran on a treadmill if it was raining outside. I told him no. "So what do you wear in the rain?" "Umm...a hat?"

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    1. Ha. I like #3. I had a SAD lamp when I lived in AK and happily gifted it when I moved away. I think it helped...

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  5. I love rainy days and thunderstorms, from the inside. When it's pouring and I'm in the comfort of my home, I wonder how I endure it while backpacking. But somehow we do. It's like you said, you can't remember being okay with rain all the time where you lived, but somehow you did.

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    1. Yes! Like when I lived in the flat state of Florida. How did I do it? But somehow I did, for years.

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  6. Haha. Kodiak rain gear is sweat pants and a hoodie, without the hood up. If it's REALLY wet we tuck our sweat pants into our Xtratufs.

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  7. I hiked in the rain just yesterday. I'm OK with it for day hikes, but it can get pretty old during a backpack.

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    1. I agree, especially that moment of fear as you set up a tent you have set up a million times before but somehow in the rain you completely turn the operation into a hot mess.

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  8. Juneau folks would joke that you could always tell the tourists by their fancy rain gear and/or umbrellas. Jill's right about sweat pants and hoodies. Spend enough time in the rain, and you learn that all rain gear is ultimately meaningless (except for Helly Hansens and Xtratufs, of course.)

    I haven't seen rain in like six years, and I miss it. (Unless it's raining in Alaska when I visit during the winter, and then I hate it.)

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    1. Yes,on umbrellas. A big thing now in the thru hiking world are umbrellas, used for both sun and rain. They look nifty but...I haven't been able to convert.

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  9. Our Oct. rainfall record was 5.41" set back in 1947. We just a new record on Monday with 6.23" for Oct. At this point I'm asking for snow. I'm tired of feeling like a drowned rat. I only have 1.5 sets of rain gear. Full set for four-wheeling, jacket for around town outings. I do have 2 full sets of snowmobile gear. Since we don't ride snowmobiles anymore I use the heavy set for cold weather football games, and the lighter set for cold weather four-wheeling. Bring on the snow!

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  10. We had 12 inches of rain in October.

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    1. You win! I'll take our 6 and not complain about it so much.

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  11. I use to not mind hiking in rain but over the last year or so, I prefer not to. I am OK if it rains near the end of the hike but I don't want to gear up in it and be miserable right from the start. That being said, I love hiking in her cousin, snow!

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    1. Ha--I love this! Her cousin snow.

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  12. For the writers on this blog, you might be interested in this Anchorage public radio hour-long interview with Alaskan authors Eowyn Ivey, who has had great success with her first novel "The Snow Child"--especially in Europe, and Tom Kizzia, a journalist who wrote "Pilgrims Wilderness," about a supposedly wonderful, large family settling in a remote Alaskan town.

    http://www.alaskapublic.org/2016/10/28/nature-writing-in-alaska/

    --Tom, Fairbanks

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    1. I've read both books--fascinating in their own ways. I especially love The Snow Child--one of my favorites. She has a new one out too, don't have it yet.

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