|Setting out into the rain.|
I was looking for a challenge and that’s certainly what I got! It had been raining and cold all day, and by the time I set up, a thick fog rolled in and left a layer of droplets UNDER my tarp. I considered packing up and moving to another location down the hillside to avoid the weather, but I’m stubborn and wanted to stay keep practicing until I am confident I can handle adverse conditions. I readjusted my tarp, formulated a "plan B" in case things got worse, and crawled into my hammock for the long dark night ahead.
After waiting and waiting to see if I would get warm (it always takes a while for the quilts to warm up), I wondered why I was taking such risks. “What the &*^%$ I’m doing out here?!?” I texted my friend, and she replied “You are living life to the fullest!” Ah ha! It was true- I was uncomfortable, but at least I was out there pushing myself, doing what I felt I needed to do to prepare for my PCT adventure. Yes, this was living!
Finally, I warmed up enough to realize I would not turn into an icicle during the night. I drifted off to the pleasant patter of rain on the tarp. Happy that I had managed just fine!
Next came the wind
About 5 AM, the next challenge came in the form of high wind gusts. Normally, I do NOT camp in the wind- I’m skilled at choosing campsites that are sheltered. I’d been curious though about my guyline/ stake system- and reading online accounts on hammock forums only gets me so far. I’m the type of person that never fully understands something without trying it out for myself. While I anticipate avoid camping in wind while on the PCT, I also want to have experience under a variety of conditions.
The wind gusts ripped a few of my tarp stakes out of the ground. I saw which stakes held and which pulled out (I was testing several types of stakes). I was also pleased that I had oriented the tarp properly, confirming I anticipated the wind direction by looking at the topography.
While packing up in the morning, I found my bear canister had ice on the lid, requiring some extra fiddling to get it open. Perhaps next time I could put a plastic bag over the bear canister if there may be ice. Guess it really did get as cold as I thought up on that mountain. Which is of course why I've always been smart enough to avoid such places.
|Making a silly bear impersonation as I open my icy bear canister.|
On this trip, I made things much more difficult on myself. One of my friends is always telling me that I create extra stress for myself and am overly self-critical. She’s right of course. But at least I have drive and focus when I set my mind to something- hopefully that will serve me well on the PCT.
At home when I’m in front of my computer reading things about the PCT, I study articles that talk about the completion rate- only 40% of people who set out on a thru hike actually make it to Canada. I examine why they left the trail, and try to figure out how I can be one of those 40%. I wonder if I am using my preparation time wisely, and if I am prioritizing the right things. Should I spend more time on my gear list? Should I read more trail journals? When it comes down to it, what I end up doing to prepare is what I always fall back on- I head out up to the mountains. I go out backpacking.