Monday, January 17, 2022

Day 41: Weather Worries

May 31: I woke up and hit the trail early, but I couldn't tell you precisely what time it was I started since I failed to note it in my journal. Just that I "hit the trail early." But I definitely wanted to beat the storm that was expected to hit the area later in the afternoon, so I had an incentive to start as early as possible.

The night before, it sprinkled a bit, but it turned out to be nothing more than a light sprinkle. Lightning flashed in the dark clouds in the distance which caused Evenstar to get out of bed to set up her tent in the dark and perhaps throw out a few cuss words while I laughed. Looking directly overhead, however, I could still see the twinkling lights of the stars and given the lack of overnight rain in the forecast, I decided to hope for the best and merely threw my tarp over me like a blanket.

By morning, the sky was filled with dark clouds, but the sun eventually came out to play and the rest of the morning turned out to be quite pleasant for hiking, along with the awesome views along the route.

I also spotted another rattlesnake on the trail--my second in two days! This one didn't scare the crap out of me, however, since it was located about 10 feet off the trail and didn't even rattle until after I had already passed it and was already heading away from it. As soon as I heard it, though, I turned around to get a better look. =) I couldn't get a decent photo of it, however, since it was mostly coiled around a log and some brush that obscured it.

Early in the afternoon, Evenstar and I filled up with water at a spring. We predicted that Pez would probably camp here this night given the fact that he was starting from a few miles behind us and certainly hadn't started hiking before us since he needed a ride back to the trail before he could start hiking. And it was basically the only water source between the water cache where he left the trail and the town of Cuba which we didn't expect to reach until tomorrow. It was the logical place that Pez would stop to camp for the night. So I wrote in the sand where people clearly camp regularly "Camp Pez" in the dirt. We weren't sure if he'd notice, but we hoped for the best! 

It's hard to see, but I wrote "Camp Pez" in the dirt at this campsite since Evenstar and I predicted that he'd probably spend the night here.

Evenstar and I pushed onward, however, planning to get a few more miles in before calling it quits for the day. The trail had a few ups and downs, climbing up a plateau, then crossing it before going down the other side. Nothing was particularly strenuous until the last plateau of the day when the trail become a positive rock scramble straight up the mountain in what both Evenstar and I cursed as an "AT-style trail." WTF?! The trail had been such a pleasure to walk on, then they throw this crap in the middle of it? But at the same time, the climb up was kind of exhilarating as well.

Once I reached the top of the plateau, I immediately started looking for a place to camp. It was still early in the afternoon, but dark clouds were blowing in quickly and I had already done about 17 miles for the day. It was a good time to call it quits! I preferred a site near the edge of the plateau where I could admire the views but also among the trees so they would help block the wind.

So I walked another 10 or 15 minutes before finding a location that seemed suitable and set up camp. I set up my tarp between two trees then staked down the corners and edges and made myself comfortable. Evenstar arrived perhaps a half hour later and set her tent nearby.

The calm before the storm

And it wasn't more than a half hour later that a horrendous thunderstorm struck. Lightning! Thunder! Crack! Boom! A terrible wind tore through camp, ripping stake after stake from my tarp out of the ground. Three times I had to hammer a stake back into the ground, and I popped out the trekking pole I had used to prop up one end of the tarp to lower its profile and provide less of a surface for the wind to hit. I also popped open my umbrella to plug the hole at the one end of the my tarp where the wind was blowing rain water under it. It didn't seem safe to be at the top of a plateau in a thunderstorm, but at this point, there was nowhere else we could hide. At least we were camped among trees and not a lone high point on the plateau.

It was a wild half hour or so. I didn't know how Evenstar was doing in her tent, but I imagined she was having issues as well. But after a half hour, the intensity died down relatively quickly. The wind settled down, the lightning moved on, and we were left with nothing more than a light sprinkle the rest of the evening.

I actually came out a lot drier than I expected given the intensity of the storm, and Evenstar seemed to survive with nothing more than a few minor leaks in her tent. I was glad I had set up my tarp between two trees. If I had set the ridge line of the tarp directly into the ground, my tarp probably would have blown away completely. We had known it was going to rain this afternoon, but we had no idea of the intensity of the storm that wound up striking. That came as a surprise!

I had stopped to set up camp at 3:00pm, the storm struck about an hour later at around 4:00pm, then stopped a half hour later at 4:30pm--or at least reduced to a light sprinkle. Trapped under my tarp because of the sprinkle, I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening watching Queens Gambit on Netflix. Good times! I also wondered if Pez managed to see the "Camp Pez" note we left for him before the storm certainly wiped it clean.

And thus ended my 41st day on the trail.....


I absolutely loved the scenery along the edges of the plateaus!







There's a rattlesnake in this photo. Can you spot it?






Evenstar fills up with water at our one water source for the day.



The climb up this plateau was more of a rock scramble than a true trail!


Michael said...

Why doesn't water flow along the ground in the gap between the ground and the tarp and get you all wet? The last time I slept in a tent in the rain, the bottom of the tent was soaking wet from the ground water simply flowing along the tent.

Ryan said...

Sometimes water does flow between the ground and my tarp and I do get wet. =) This ground was pretty sandy, though, and water just drained into it very quickly. Ideally, I'd set up somewhere that water wouldn't run under my tarp anymore. Even if it does run under my tarp, though, I might still be able to stay dry if my groundsheet is fairly waterproof. (The one I'm using this day isn't particularly waterproof, however. It's generally best for water not to go under my tarp at all.)