Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness – Walking in the Rain
Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams. ~ Ashley Smith
So friends I find myself once again in the Armstrong Redwood Reserve to do a couple of days of training hikes. California also happily finds itself being hit by a series of pacific storms dropping significant rain. So as I laid down last night to sleep and the rain began to beat on the roof I wasn’t surprised, nor was I upset. In the morning the rain had not let up, in fact it was heavier and more steady than it had been the night before.
The nice thing is that this would be the first opportunity I’ve had to test out my rain gear. So I geared up, heavier undershirt, lightweight rain coat, cycling rain gloves with my silk liners, my new rain skirt and my Merrell cross-trainers.
As if the universe wanted to join in, as I pulled into the parking lot the rain cranked up like a fire hose, if you’re going to test your gear, you may as well test it full on.
The beginning of a hike in the rain is never comfortable for me, I’m always a bit grouchy, I’m worrying about my gear, my footing, basically I’m stressing out and expecting the worst. However the true beauty of hiking is that as you walk stress falls away. The rain hits you but it’s ok, you don’t fall on your ass as soon as you hit the first slope, you start focusing on the hike. All the little things that eat up your brain when you are walking; picking the right spots to step and trying to stay out of the streams of water running down the hill, evaluating your handholds on your trekking poles, getting the hood of the rain jacket appropriately placed on your head, and remembering to focus on your breathing.
The focus is particularly strong in the rain and the world grows closer.
In the rain, with a hood up, the rain beating on your head sound is deadened a bit, your vision is slightly restricted and things get close and quiet, you’re more focused on the details of the hike. I like this and particularly in a dark redwood forest the closeness leads to a feeling of peace.
So today was a peaceful day, my hands were soaked through, my body was soaked, sweat and humidity more than rain. My Morrell Moabs were exactly as billed, completely useless at keeping your feet dry, but tonight we’ll see if they dry out quickly also as advertised. The rain coat did its job and I LOVE my rain skirt!!! I hate rain pants, a pain to get on over your boots or worse, you have to take your boots off to put them on. The swish-swish noise of rain pants kind of drives me nuts, so when I read about a rain skirt I had to give it a try. It’s perfect, easy on and off, keeps the rain off of your legs, extremely light, packs up tiny, velcroes down the side which even makes rest stops easy to deal with. Hell, if need be it could serve as an impromptu rain tarp, love, love, love it.
So today the most beautiful thing I saw was a waterfall, I’d walked this path a number of times and always wondered why there was a walkway off to one side. Today I learned why, there is a lovely little waterfall just off the trail.
What I learned today, was the beginning of the understanding of what spring on the AT is going to be like, particularly as I sit here drying my gear, a luxury I won’t have most nights on the trail.
So my second day was a mess (at least my shoes had dried out), started out with the intent of testing my new video camera, battery was dead. This stressed me out way more than it should have, also, although no aches and pains it was one of those days when you just don’t have it. So I was grouchy and bitching under my breath and feeling overly tired and I came quickly to a little bit of reality, I was being an idiot.
So I stopped, took a break on a climb and took about 2 minutes to just do a very simple meditation. Just to focus on my breathing, really simple, stop, breathe, let it flow in and out and after a couple of minutes I felt better. So I powered through and did the hike, was happy to have put in the miles, even in the downpour that was the last couple of miles. Once I got my head right it was a really wonderful and peaceful walk in the fog, the clouds and the rain.
What was the most beautiful thing I saw today? It was an old couple, a really old man and his really old dog, out for a walk. They both looked over and kind of smiled at me as they hobbled along together. They looked like they’d been together a very long time.
What I learned today was more of a reminder than something new, just remembering to breathe, to keep working toward getting into the flow of this journey I’m currently on.
What made me happy, was the most beautiful thing I saw today, the dog and the old man, out walking in the rain really touched my heart and left me smiling for quite a while today.
I topped the day off with a long, hot bath, I leave the mountains in the morning and head for two nights on the ocean, falling asleep to the sounds of waves outside my door. Today was a wonderful day and I hope you had a happy day as well my friends ~ Rev Kane