Day 145: A Soggy Slog

As I mentioned yesterday, Washington is known as a wet state. As if yesterday afternoon’s rains weren’t enough to prove it to us, last night and today made the point in earnest. Not long after we fell asleep last night, it started absolutely pouring, and continued pouring for hours and hours in the middle of the night. (I know this because every time I’d wake up a little bit to roll over, I could hear the rain coming down on the tarp.) And today it basically never stopped raining, aside from maybe thirty minutes here or an hour there — sometimes a light drizzle, usually a steady rain, sometimes a true downpour.

We have really good raingear with us, but, as anybody who’s hiked in much rain knows, this does not mean you stay completely dry. You know those labels that brag “Waterproof and Breathable”? Lies, every single one of them — there is no such thing. Out here, if you don’t wear raingear, you get wet from the rain; if you do wear raingear, you get damp from the rain, and more damp from your own sweat. It’s sort of damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t. The fact that it’s kept raining all day long also means that the humidity has stayed at 100% all day long, too. I’m typing this while lying in our tent next to damp: rain pants, rain jacket, rain gloves, hiking pants, hiking shirt, underwear, sock liners, socks, and gaiters. (My shoes aren’t damp; they’re soaked.) I fully expect every single one of them to remain just as damp tomorrow morning, too. It won’t be until we really have a sunny day that any of that stuff will actually dry, which is a bummer but nothing you can do anything about. I’ve heard someone quip about hiking Washington on the PCT: “just about the time you’re convinced you yourself are going to mildew, you’re finally done”.

Washington, however, is lush and beautiful. The phrase “temperate rainforest” keeps going through my head, as I’ve heard that’s an accurate classification of the forest here, and it’s a perfect description. There are ferns everywhere, moss growing on nearly everything, trees sprouting up like mad, salamanders (cool!) and giant slugs (gross!) absolutely everywhere, and it all generally just feels insanely fertile. A giant tree falls down, moss grows on it, and another giant tree has sprouted and grown sixty feet into the sky, growing directly out of the first tree’s trunk, lying on the ground. There’s water everywhere, and it’s all really quite beautiful. I enjoy it a lot, even if I do wish my clothes could be dry, and it’s so, so different from everything I’m used to at home or on other parts of the PCT.

Yesterday and today have also been incredibly difficult hiking, for reasons I don’t fully understand. This morning, we got a very late start because we kept waiting for the rain to stop; of course, it never did, and we eventually just started hiking anyway. I think the difficulty is a combination of very heavy packs from our recent resupply (and, ironically, a twelve-mile stretch between water stops today) and adjustment to the rain. Wearing a pack over raingear just feels very different from without, and this is really the first time we’ve had to do it for long enough that we’ve had to get used to it, or at least try to.

The next few days, however, we’ll have to pick up the pace considerably if we want to get to Trout Lake, our next resupply stop, before our food runs out. I’m not really worried about this, but it is a big motivating factor. It’s still drizzling and dripping from the trees onto our tarp as I write this, but I’m hoping that tomorrow morning it will have stopped completely before we get up. Onwards!

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