The rain started at 1 a.m. on the day we were to hike 27 miles. Hikers were to start gathering at 6:15. This did not lend itself to a comfortable night's sleep. Being the hike leader, there was certainly anxiety as options were limited. It wasn't as if we could wait it out. 27 miles takes a long time to hike, perhaps 11 hours. Considering there are only 11 hours of daylight, well..... The rain eventually did cease and we were able to have our pre-hike meeting while remaining dry. We did not see sunlight for the duration of the day.
After an hour of hiking, the weather gave a sneer and sent down a steady, hard rain that would envelope us for 7 miles. When it stopped our pants were able to dry out in the breeze (fortunately no one had worn jeans). Once dry, the plan was to take a lunch break at mile 12.8. Wouldn't you know it, a mile before that, the insidious rain came back with a tantrum for the next 11 miles. There was just no let up. Our pants were wet and with the head wind, the pants would cling to our legs. Wow, talk about getting beat up.
The task of hiking was formidable both physically and mentally. You start with the idea of doing 18 or 27 miles but meet a continuous hindrance which keeps pushing at your body and brain. As we all know, sometimes one's ego gets in the way of making good decisions and the drive to accomplish a goal exceeds common sense. You have no idea how relieved I was to have the crew of hikers that came along. The temperature was about 55 with wind. We had relentlessly long hours of pelting rain. Hypothermia was ready to attack at any given moment. Those that started to get chilled assessed the situation and, on their own, opted for cut off routes to the bailout car. I want to thank those that took early leave to get to the bailout for making a good decision; that prevented what could have been a very terrible situation.
One thing I learned this hike is that even expensive rain gear doesn't always hold up. A rain jacket that has been a trusty companion over the years eventually loses its repelling properties. Also, sometimes repellent properties may be good but cannot sustain those properties for several hours. Coming at this issue from a different angle: Sue hiked using an umbrella - interesting.
Anyway, the forest was its beautiful self. Colors enriched in the ambient light of a cloudy day. There were lots of areas where there was a fairly recent controlled burn, but the forest still maintains its charm. It reminded me of a gentleman who just had a haircut - he looks good but will be even better looking after the hair grows back for a while. In the forest, the seasons are always wondrous to observe.
And we are Arlene and Alex G at 16.1, John at 17.6, Susan and Cady at 18.1, and Elizabeth, Vickey, Alex F, Darren, Sue, Jette, Thom, Nancy, Gordy at 26.9.
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