Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Preparing for Wet Weather

Well, it looks like rain is in our forecast for the next several days.  Today was one of those non-hike days which was just as well since there were thunderstorms in the forecast.  However, it didn’t start raining until about 3 PM; we had a beautiful morning to hike if we hadn’t planned our day around the forecast.

We finally got all our rain gear dried out.  While I washed our filthy clothes this morning, Gene cleaned boots and applied a fresh coat of water repellant.  He also sprayed my poncho and cap with some silicone stuff to help repel the water.

Since we are going to sweat when we hike and the condensation will make us wet anyway, why bother?  That’s a valid question which has no answer.  I think it’s a game we hikers play to see if we can actually stay dry.  It gives us something to think about as we hike down the trail.

Another good question is why do we spend tons of money on Gore-Tex lined boots to keep our feet dry when rain runs down your leg right into the boot.  I came up with this combination of clothing to keep my feet dry during wet weather.  The goal is to keep the water off your legs otherwise what doesn’t just roll on into your boot will be wicked down by your sock.  In a downpour, I put on my Gore-Tex gators.  These legging type things have a strap that fits under your boot and a clip which hooks to the boot lace to holds them in place.  Hikers use gators for a number of purposes--they are great to keep dirt, leaf, and other debris off your socks and out of your boots, they keep your legs warm, they protect your legs from stinging nettle, poison ivy and plants with thorns, and if they’re Gore-Tex, they’re waterproof.  Although the gators come up to me knee, they won’t keep the rain from running down my leg and on into my boot.  On top of the gators, I wear my rain pants.  This combination works pretty good for me and if it isn’t too hot, I can keep from having a heat stroke.  Gene and I always challenge each other to see who has dry feet the longest.  Are we starved for entertainment, or what?

Of course, the day hiker just stays home on rainy days. That’s what we’re doing this afternoon.  However, our thoughts are with all those thru-hikers who are out in this storm.  Their cloths are wet, their boots are wet, and their rain gear is wet, if they had it on.  They’ll come into a shelter for the night and take all that wet stuff and throw it in a corner or hang it from a string and pretend it will be dry by morning.  It won’t, so in the morning they’ll put on those same wet clothes they’ve been hiking in for 3 days, stuff their feet into cold, wet boots, and head on out, probably in the rain.  As they hike, they’ll be trying to figure out a way to stay dry in wet weather.

Tomorrow, we’re going to try to get the last 7 miles into Rockfish Gap hiked.  That will be the end of the Blue Ridge section and we’ll be ready to start through Shenandoah National Park.  The weather forecast is better--only a 20% chance of rain.  Gene will hike no matter what.  I will decide when I look at the sky.

That’s it for today.

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