Sunday, June 12, 2016

Day 43 : Chased By A Thunderstorm

15 miles today
1920 miles to go

Crash! A loud clap of thunder wakes me from a dead sleep. Lightning ripples across the sky flickering in my tent like a strobe. More roaring thunder. The rain increases its intensity. I check my iPhone, three am. The storm continues until close to sunrise. The rains lets off, changing sound to a soft patter. It's snowing! The air cools and the soft sound of falling snow is all I hear. I drift off to sleep again. 

Sunrise is quiet. I peek out and see blue in the sky. There is snow in patches on my tent and the ground next to it. I eat breakfast in my tent heating water in the vestibule for coffee. The sun begins to heat the air, vapor rises off the ground and from the trees. We lay out wet stuff in the sun to dry. We leave much later than usual because of the drying of our gear and the realization that we have two days to hike thirty eight miles.

The day is beautiful the air smells clean and fresh the ground is moist keeping the dust from coating our clothes and shoes. We hike at a fast clip, around three miles per hour up and down. My knee isn't protesting at all. Maybe it's finally healed. We begin climbing higher and higher, up above ten thousand feet. The air is significantly cooler here. It's hard to imagine that a few days ago I was sweltering in the heat of the desert. As we hike the sky begins to fill with clouds. The ridge we are climbing is covered in fog. We are in a cloud! The air is cold, then warm, the breeze gusts back and forth. I think that we are in a building thunderhead. The clouds darken. We are hiking under the last remaining patch of blue sky. Thunder rumbles in the distance. It's coming for us. We are exposed on a ridge and my thought is we need to get off of this ridge as quickly as we can. Braveheart is zipping along ahead of me as the trail turns and runs east, with the blue sky. Thunder crashes closer and closer as we descend. I think about how uncomfortable it would be to setup camp in the rain. I think about hiking in a thunderstorm and being soaking wet. I think about how to keep stuff dry. I started the day with two liters of water I probably still have a liter and a half left. We arrive at the water resource where we plan to get more water. Rain, or is that corn snow? Falling slowly. Braveheart asks me, “what do you want to do?” “Camp,” I say. I imagine that tomorrow the day will be sunny and bright without rain. We find a place near the water and setup camp. We get in our tents out of the rain. It's early afternoon. This is lame, I think to myself. Now our tents are wet. We are semi wet. We'd have been better off donning rain gear and just continuing to hike. I am disappointed in my decision. 

The rain lets up and I suggest we go get water. By the time we start collecting the water wet corn snow is falling in sheets. We are getting colder and wetter by the minute. I apologize to Braveheart for my decision and say that I think next time we should probably just keep hiking. She is gracious and kind and said it hard to know the right decision at the time. 

Back in my tent time stands still. The day drags on and on. I think about how much distance we could have covered. Instead we are sitting in our tents afraid of a little rain. I cook my dinner and eat it not so much because I'm hungry but because I don't want to carry it tomorrow. Late in the day the rain completely stops and the sun comes out. We could have been miles further. I know I need to let it go, next time I want to keep hiking.

We don't pack up, we don't keep hiking. We decide its to late to start now. By the time we start we'll only have an hour or so of hiking. Rest, that's what I do, just rest. As the sun begins to set it starts to get cold. Then it gets colder, and colder. I decide to wear my fleece to sleep in. This is the first time I've used it for something other than a pillow. Now my rain poncho is my pillow. It's not as big or fluffy as my fleece, but it's better than anything else I have. 

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