Hiking in the Rain
Hiking in the Rain
Hiking in the Rain
As you know from my articles, I love to hike and I love to turn other people on to the joy of hiking. I love hiking in all kinds of conditions (except maybe through swarms of mosquitoes!)
Yesterday I happened to be hiking in the rain, which I don’t mind because the rain can be very refreshing, especially when it is scouring out humidity and high temperatures. As I was watching chipmunks scatter for their homes and ferns bowing their heads as the rain washed over them, I realized there are different conditions and changes in terrain that need to be addressed when hiking in the rain. This realization came after I slipped in mud on the wet trail!
The first thing to do when hiking in the rain is to prepare, especially if you know there will be rain. There are different things you should take along, but the obvious one to NOT take is an umbrella. Can you imagine trying to wield an umbrella while scampering up a hill?
In order to be able to navigate the often slippery trails, you will need a good pair of boots. Hiking boots with a Gore-Tex (a synthetic waterproof fabric permeable to air and water vapor that is used in outdoor and sports clothing) layer and high tops (at the ankle or higher) are good for swollen streams, puddles, snow, and mud. Add two layers of socks, liners, and thicker woolen trekking socks if hiking in cold weather. For warm rain, the boots are still critical, but you may wear a lighter hiking sock over liners.
The boots should also have good traction on them because as I said earlier, mud can be very slippery, even on a level trail. One misstep and you can find yourself skidding along on your rear.
Other items of clothing should include a rain hat. Especially for warm rain, a wide-brimmed hat may be enough with a light shell. Be sure the hat is a fast-drying fabric like nylon or water-resistant cotton. Even for cold rain, a hat on top of your hood may help to drip rain away from your face.
Now depending on the hike you are taking, a waterproof backpack should be considered, especially if there are a lot of items to be stowed. Some of the things that should be taken with you are a first aid kit, an extra poncho, binoculars, drinking water, and bug spray. Bug spray especially should be taken because believe it or not, mosquitoes can be quite active during rainy weather and will drive you crazy if you don’t take steps to prevent them. One of my favorite things is mosquito netting that you can pull on over your head and covers your face. There is nothing worse than having a mosquito fly into your eyes or up your nose.
A word of caution should be inserted here. No matter how well you are prepared, or how many waterproof items you have on, you WILL get wet. Rain and water seem to find a way to sneak in, under and over all those layers you so carefully put on. But I also encourage you to take a chance and go anyway. It will be an entirely different hiking experience like never before.
Now we are ready to go. Hiking in the rain is like stepping into another world. All the sights and sounds you are familiar with on a dry hike are still there, but you will also encounter amazing things that you can’t experience on a dry hike.
One of my favorite things about hiking in the rain is the smell. There is nothing like the smell of a forest during a rain. All the scents such as pine trees, the dirt of the trail floor, even the small animals you may encounter smell deeper and richer than ever before. The rain itself has a scent that is difficult to describe, but makes you come alive.
Then there is the solitude. Most people try to avoid getting wet, so don’t often hike in the rain. You will probably have the trail to yourself. You will feel like you are in another world as the rain and mist envelop you in their embrace. The colors around you are intensified. The greens become jewel-toned and the ferns and leaves on the trees sparkle like they’ve been sprinkled with fairy dust.
So the next time it rains, don’t put off that hiking trip you were planning. Go anyway and experience for yourself the joys of hiking in the rain. You can’t really call yourself a true hiker until you’ve hiked in the rain.