Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mud skating

Rainy day trips used to mean cheap bright yellow rain pants, a poncho and a garbage bag with some slits cut for your pack straps. Yes you got wet and cold, but you survived, although there was always a lot of whining along the way. As an adult, getting ready for a rainy day has become a quest for some mythical fabric that will keep you perfectly dry. In a world or goretex, pertex, event and a million other fancy fabrics there still doesn't seem to be a perfect answer. I'll admit those fancy fabrics are tempting and I have a few, but between sweat and wind and other mysterious factors I haven't had a ton of luck. So what's a girl to do on a wet and windy day with a dog that's bouncing off the walls? Last I checked I don't melt, so hiking it was. With a loaded backpack and some fancy duds we hit the local ridge line. Those of you in the bay area know we've been having our fair share of rain lately and the day of my hike was no exception. Exposed on a ridge line I was surrounded by eucalyptus trees whipping around and creaking away in creepy chorus. My dog looked at me with a reproachful expression as we went slipping and sliding away in the icy cold wetness of the day. I figure sticky and slick mud is a bit like hiking in snow, your ankles and knees get jarred every which and those solid little spots seem like heaven. Does that make my mileage count more as far as training goes? After a long and cold day I'm not going to lie, my toasty warm house was pretty sweet.
almost done, I swear it was tougher than it
While hiking I got to spend some good quality time with my fancy rain gear. I'm sure in certain conditions it's great but as past experiences have taught me it was pretty useless keeping me dry. With the high wind and hill climbing I was sweating away and was saturated within an hour on my exposed side and by the end of the day I'm pretty sure the upper portion of my left thigh was my only dry spot. Old lessons were reinforced. Fancy rain gear is a whole mess of money and not a whole lot different than the cheap stuff. Which still leaves me with the choice of what am I going to take? There is no way that I will forgo raingear for washington but what about the rest of the trail?
Lots of folks consider socal all desert, but they have to remember that the weather can get pretty nasty down there, snow and ice storms seem to hit PCT hikers in socal almost every year. I'm not a fan of hypothermia and know if it gets really bad I can hunker down in my tent but I'm not willing to completely leave out rain gear even in socal. The thing is rain gear loses its waterproofness the more you use it, and I can't see rewaterproofing gear on the trail. Staying dry seems to be impossible but sleeping warm is something I can work on. So as of right now my fancy rain jacket will be nice, happy and dry sitting in my closet at home ready to be mailed to me if I so desire closer to Washington. Until then some simple frogg toggs for emergency use will be sitting in my pack.
Right after I came to these lovely conclusions I stumbled on Guthooks recent blog post (past thruhiker of the PCT and AT) on just this debate, definitely worth checking out.

On an unrelated note I have been bogged down by work related things recently and have done basically nothing for the PCT. As of today all of my certifications are current and back to PCT planning and stressing it is!


  1. hey maya, my name is Erick ive been following your posts. I too will thru hike the pct this season. I am from San Diego and Mud is like walking on ice but different then heavy snow... been doing some hiking in nearby mountains after heavy snowfall and its harder then mud way slower too....

    1. Cool, thanks for following. Can't wait to start! I've spent some time trudging through snow, always seems as if my joints get extra stressed. Although I haven't spent much time actually backpacking in snow, who knows what this season will bring. HOpe to see you out there.

  2. Yeah the extra weight while going through knee high snow will through your balance of a bit. Your knees and legs will get tired faster its almost like climbing stairs. Whats your email address?

    1. well we might get more practice than we had originally thought if it keeps dumping in the mountains like it is now...still so excited :)
      email is: