OK, you were smart enough to get your rain-gear on before the deluge, but now you’ve reached camp and it’s still coming down. What to do?
Situation #1: You can see the end of the storm off to the west. So find a big old spruce, hunker down and enjoy. Maybe light one up if you’re in Colorado or Washington. In this situation, channel John Denver: there will soon be sunshine on your shoulders making you happy!
Situation #2: There’s no end in sight, it’s getting late, and it’s time to set up camp. Thus, we have a number of options, one of which is to simply sleep out in the rain to see if that synthetic sleeping bag really does insulate when wet. I’ve done that, it does (more or less) but I do not recommend it. Forget that one. So, if the guide has brought a kitchen tarp (which is usually the case on a Big Wild trip), help to get it set up first thing. At the very least, it provides shelter for firewood, stoves, food and kitchen gear. And for you. If it’s really pouring, group members can then take turns setting up their tents under the tarp and then quickly move them and stake them out at the chosen tent site. I’ve used the same strategy, by the way, by setting up under a big old spruce, a kind of tree that can be a great umbrella for surprisingly long time periods before the rain begins to seep through.
No tarp and no spruce? A bummer indeed. But take solace in the reality that a little water probably won’t be your ultimate demise. Not with wool, capilene, polypropylene, gore-tex, fleece, fiberfill, and a $500 coated nylon tent with rain-fly. And vestibule. Set the tent up quickly, keeping the tent covered with the rain-fly as much as possible during the procedure. And when you get in, leave your wet rain-suit in the vestibule and wipe down the inside of the tent with your bandana or camp towel. Or T-shirt. Voila! Soaking wet has become just a bit damp but still cozy.
Here’s one more piece of advice. Don’t turn in for the night without your rain-gear inside the vestibule or tent, no matter how clear the weather is. Ever! That’s because if it’s raining in the morning, you can put your rain-suit on before going outside. Rummaging through your backpack early on a rainy morning while getting wet is less fun than planning ahead and having your rain-gear with you! As the saying goes, proper planning prevents piss poor performance!
And one final thought: Our bodies are 70% water. Water makes life on Earth possible, and rain in the Rockies is a joyful experience of all things green and growing. So don’t shrink from it. But do make wise choices, think ahead, utilize common sense, and …..enjoy!
In case you missed it, go back to read my first blog post about ‘Staying Dry when Hiking, Part 1′.