Day 71: Riding out the thunderstorms

Miles Hiked: 9.1
Miles Left: 1628.7
Ending Location: Chestnut Knob Shelter

Today was the first time on the trail where I had to deal with drenching rain. That’s a bit of an accomplishment for someone at around the two month mark, but I’ve been very lucky with the weather so far. The day started out dry as I left the shelter but the weather reports forecasted storms so I was prepared when it started drizzling. The rain started and stopped throughout the morning which meant I spent a good amount of time putting on and taking off my rain gear. I didn’t want to leave it on since the weather was warm and there was a lot of up. To put it another way, it was a balancing act of deciding if the rain would soak me more than my sweat. Gross, I know. I was in this position when it once again started raining around 10:30. I went from damp to soaked before I could even get my pack off to grab my jacket. Luckily with the heat and the exercise I wasn’t cold but after that I didn’t bother with rain gear at all.

After that point the rain did not let up and more disturbing, thunder started to rumble in the distance. To sum things up, I was climbing a mountain, far from civilization, by myself, soaked to the bone, in the middle of a thunderstorm. My mom would have been very unhappy with me!

Side Note: Hi Mom!

I did run into a couple other hikers in similar circumstances. Happy and I ended up having to shout at each other to make ourselves heard over the storm when she was asking if I had seen her friend Alaska further down the trail, (Alaska had stopped to eat a soggy lunch). Most of the time though I was by myself which was a bit scary and exhilarating at the same time. I didn’t use the strap for my hiking poles so I could throw them away from me at a moment’s notice and spent much of the time counting the seconds between the lightning flashes and thunder booms. It was also a new experience since I couldn’t check the gps on my phone to see where I was at or take pictures since everything was so wet the touch interface would not work. Near the top of the mountain the terrain opened up into pastures and balds. Standing in the treeline, looking out at the fields I would need to cross on top of a mountain in the middle of a thunderstorm, I went “Nope” and just chilled for a while waiting for it to pass.

I hiked the last bit of the mountain with Happy and Alaska who by then had caught up to me. We ended the day at Chestnut Knob shelter which was the best shelter possible to ride out the storm in since it was a converted fire warden’s cabin so it had four walls and a door just like a real house. It was packed with other hikers in similar circumstances as us but became steadily less full throughout the day as the rain would briefly pause and a group of people would venture out. The allure of making more miles was strong, especially since I was still trying to catch up with Owl, but seeing other hikers head out only to have the skies open up on them tempered my enthusiasm. The best decision I made was to take out my sleeping bag, climb into it, and then change out of my wet clothes. At that point since I had stopped moving I had been getting quite chilled so I greatly appreciated the fact that I still hadn’t switched out my winter bag for a summer one and I still had my full winter jacket. Eventually around five I gave up whatever fantasy I had of heading out that day and settled in for the night. It want ideal since that meant Owl was now two days ahead of me but trying to push those miles would not have been a fun experience.

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Knot Maul Shelter which is the one I started out the day at20140429-110707.jpg

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