Saturday, October 24, 2015

Rainy Days

Inside the cloud, there are no raindrops. Tiny beads of water spontaneously form on everything, soaking me slowly but steadily. I hike fast, hoping that I'll be merely damp, rather than sodden, if I generate enough heat.

Inside the cloud, everything is slippery. It's rained more or less continuously for three days now, and the lichen-covered rocks prove deceptively slimy, ready to send the unsuspecting hiker crashing down a steep incline at any moment. I inch forward down the steep, slick granite. The trail has been worn down to the bedrock by decades of travelers making this pilgrimage.

Inside the cloud, I'm feeling clammy. Without my rain jacket, the cool, humid air will quickly chill me to the bone, fingers white and numb. But with my rain jacket, I immediately start to overheat, as the thin nylon captures saturated air like a curious yellow sauna.

My prospects for a dry camp are limited. The forecast, or at least the one I've heard through the hiker grapevine, calls for rain again tonight and tomorrow. A heavier, darker, wetter cloud blows in. Rivulets flow through the dirt and over rocks, created a thousand tiny waterfalls as they trickle downhill. My tent is still soggy from last night. I arrive at a flat spot and set up camp, ducking inside just as it starts to thunder.

Hours pass. Malaise sets in. My shelter is lightweight, but small. I duck and contort every which way to try and avoid touching the walls, which have been soaked by condensation. Sooner or later, I decide to lay down and fall asleep. It's not dark yet, although the line between daytime and nighttime is blurred inside the cloud. The pitter-patter of rain is constant, mere inches above my head, as droplets splatter on the nylon tarp. I'll wake up several times in the night to ensure that none of my things are getting soaked - not too soaked that is. Everything gets damp when the humidity's at one hundred percent.

But sometime in the night, something changes. That relentless pitter-patter becomes softer, and more sparse. Soon it becomes the occasional splat! And finally, morning dawns. The sunshine is watery, but I'm not complaining. I poke my head out of the door cautiously, hoping to avoid the splats, as water drips off the tree branches above my head. But it's a new day, and soon all this water will be converted into unbearable mugginess by the mid-morning sun - and finally dissipate. I let out a hollar of joy as I pack up my damp pack and stride down the trail. My shoes are wet, my tent is sodden and heavy, but there's a certain lightness of spirit that only appears after the rainstorm.

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