Monday, July 18, 2022

Day 120: A wet, miserable day of rain....

August 18: A strong lightning storm woke me up a little before midnight. From flash to BOOM, it was less than a second. A bit startling, but not a particular problem and I soon fell asleep again a half hour later after the storm cell had passed.

When sunrise came, the rain hadn't started yet. This was actually a pleasant surprise for me since the weather forecast had predicted a light but steady rain all day long which I wasn't particularly excited about. Fortunately, I had a short 12-mile day planned. Normally I'd prefer to hike a heck of a lot further than that for a full day of hiking, but in bad weather, 12 miles sounds just fine. =) Not like I had any choice in the matter, though. I was stuck with what my Yellowstone permit allowed.

Hanging out under my tarp. =)

Because I had such a short day of hiking ahead, I took my time getting ready and didn't plan to start hiking until about 7:00am. It was a late start, but it turned out to required anyhow. The ugly rain clouds kept my surroundings particularly dark and I needed light to get photos.

Just as I got out of my sleeping bag and started packing it up for the day, the rain started. I reversed course and got back in my sleeping bag. Maybe there would be a break in the rain and I could start hiking then.

I pulled out my Kindle and started reading to occupy my time. There weren't any other people at this campsite so I was on my own.

At one point, I heard a nearby tree crash loudly, giving up the ghost. I hoped the tree hadn't crashed across the trail. Even more, I hoped none of the trees in my immediate area felt compelled to follow suit. The wind was certainly blowing them around like crazy!

A couple of hours later, the rain picked up so it was moderately strong, which eventually started flowing over the hard surface and under my tarp causing some water intrusion problems. I tried to carve drainage channels around my tarp, but that only helped a little. Water continued to intrude.

I pulled all my gear closer to me and shrank my footprint--the easier to defend against the water intrusion--but after a half hour of this, I was clearly losing the battle. If I stayed much longer, I and my gear was going to get very wet. Having lost the battle, it was time to go.

Before I left, I stuffed myself full with snacks. I ate until my belly burst. I hadn't been hungry, but the weather forecast did call for rain all day so I knew there likely would be no good places to stop and eat out of the rain. Thus, my plan was to hike the entire 12 miles without any snack breaks or other rest stops. A non-stop 12-mile hike to my next campsite. Then find a good place to set up my tarp and throw myself under it for the rest of the day.

'Twas a wet, wet day....

It was 9:30am when I finally started hiking. I put on my waterproof socks--my feet were clearly going to be wet the whole day anyhow--but they also helped with a few small stream crossings. They kept my feet warmer, but definitely did not keep them dry!

Along some areas, the trail was horribly slick and muddy which slowed me down some, but I only fell once. The rain quickly rinsed off the mud that covered me from the fall.

The hike was nice. Most of the time the trail paralleled the Snake River along a deep canyon, but the trail itself was largely flat and easy. Except, of course, for the muddy areas that were so slippery. If the weather had been nice, it would have been a pleasant walk. I never saw any other hikers all day either. It seemed astonishing to me that I could be in a national park visited by millions of people each year and not see a single person the entire day.

The rain never did stop, although for about a half hour, it grew light enough that I stopped using my umbrella.

Anyhow, several hours later, at about 2:00 in the afternoon, I arrived at the Surprise Creek campsite (8J3). All of the campsites have names, but the park service tends to refer to them by an identifier. In this case, 8J3. I didn't particularly like the system because "8J3" meant absolutely nothing to me. Surprise Creek camp reminds me that it's near Surprise Creek. But I can see how it would be easier for them to give them identifiers. 

But I digress.... I was about to search the campsite for where I wanted to set up my tarp when I noticed a large tree with overhanging branches and the ground under it was completely dry! I was stunned! After all this rain, there was a dry spot?! I didn't even bother looking around the rest of the campsite. That was where I'd camp!

Here was a pleasant surprise--dry place to camp for the night!

It was actually near the eating area, the second time in two nights I didn't actually camp in the sleeping areas preferring the area by the eating area. It was just too good to pass up, though! 

Although the rain wasn't reaching the ground at this point, I still set up my tarp in case it eventually worked through the canopy or the wind shifted or whatever and it would blow the rain into this protected little cove. I had plenty of head room, though, easily sitting up without any trouble. I could even stand, albeit in a crouch. It was far better than I could have ever hoped for. As an added bonus, the ground next to the tree was covered with a thick layer of pine needles that would be absolutely wonderful to sleep on. =)

Then I spent the rest of the day just reading my Kindle and watching a couple of Netflix videos. I had hours and hours to kill. Probably close to 8 hours before I'd start getting tired enough to want to sleep. It was a bit exhausting trying to entertain myself for that long with nothing but a Kindle and a phone.

I did take a break from those in the early evening when I made dinner, but after that, it was back to the Kindle again. My boredom level was high, but at least I was dry and comfortable. =)

Although the rain hadn't gotten through the tree cover, I still set up my tarp under it just in case it did or the wind shifted.

For much of the day's hike, I followed parallel to the Snake River after fording across it early in the morning.

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