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Local Sports

July 27, 2012

Don't let a wet hike in the Adirondacks dampen your spirits

A few years ago, I headed out on a three-day backpacking trip.

The weather was good, if you don't mind hiking in 90-degree heat. But you can never tell about the Adirondacks. It can be sunny in one valley and raining cats and dogs just over the next mountain.

By mid-afternoon, I heard the rumble of thunder off in the distance. That's not uncommon when the humidity is as high as the temperature.

It didn't matter, anyway. I was totally drenched in sweat as I crossed the upper end of the Kunjamuk heading up Pete's Hill toward Indian Lake.

Suddenly, there was a loud bang and a flash of lightning. I reached into the side pocket of my backpack and grabbed a waterproof cover for it.

I didn't bother with a raincoat when the sky opened up. Wearing a poncho or some other rain gear makes you sweat even more, so you're going to get wet anyway. The only time a raincoat works is when it's cold and raining because it will keep you warm and dry.

A steady, soft rain continued for the better part of an hour after the first thunderstorm passed. Even though I was totally drenched, it was cooler than earlier in the day. The rain stopped by the time I reached the base of Humphrey Mountain, so I decided to set up my tent and camp for the night.

I hung my wet clothes out to dry and enjoyed the evening as the sun set off to the west. As the stars filled the night sky, I climbed into my sleeping bag and was serenaded by a barred owl until I fell asleep.

Just after dawn, another thunder-boomer roared across the ridge tops. I opened the flap of my tent and watched the rain pound steadily down for nearly 20 minutes before the sun broke through. That meant a less-than-comfortable morning lay ahead. I pulled on cold, wet shorts and a wrung-out T-shirt, then slid my feet into soggy hiking shoes. The worst part, though, was putting away a wet tent.

By mid-morning, it was raining again. When I came to puddles and small streams, I just waded through. There was no use trying to avoid the water because it sloshed out of my shoes with every step.

You may think, "That can't be fun," but it is.

Hiking in the rain is something you just take in stride. It's no different than being a little boy and playing outside during one of those summer showers. The only drawback is setting up a wet tent and climbing into a damp sleeping bag at night. It sometimes gets to the point that there is no escaping the clammy feeling that envelopes you.

I made camp near Hour Pond that evening and did some fishing. The last of the storms passed through sometime during the night.

By morning, the sun started to dry things out _ including my spirit. I caught a couple of nice brook trout for breakfast and started out once more. It was going to be a wonderful day _ just me and a wandering trail in the wilderness.

What's Happening?

Don't forget about the 500-yard Rifle Shoot on Worcester's South Hill, which starts at noon Sunday. For more information, call Chuck at 607-432-8180.

Rick Brockway writes a weekly outdoors column for The Daily Star. Email him at robrockway@hotmail.com.

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