Payson to Pine: A Saga of Rain and Hail

It was dark. The kind of inky black dark that feels suffocating. Maybe that was coming from my tarp though, as the wind pressed on its sides so heavily it caved onto my exposed face. Driving rain was being held off by my umbrella in the entrance to my trusty shelter. As I lie there, giving up on sleep, I gripped the handle of my umbrella tightly so it wouldn’t fly away with the wind.

A flash illuminated the sky to our west, followed by the BOOM of thunder. One of the stakes on the corner of my tarp was ripped out of the ground by the wind. Quickly, I replace it and reinforce it with the closest rock I can find. I do this with all the other stakes as well, so to not have to get up again. During my brief time outside, I discover that we were being pelted with not only rain, but hail as well.

The storm lasted the better part of the night, and we all slept pretty poorly. Everything was, at the very least, damp. Everest fared the worst of us all, a hole having been ripped in his tarp. His belongings were all soaked, and he needed to bail out in the morning. Arizona went from sunny and nice to “I’m just gonna throw every weather pattern imaginable at you guys,” in two days.

Did it end there? Oh no. The next day, while we hiked we were pelted with hail stones the size of my pinky nail. They came with such velocity, they left little red marks on any exposed skin. I am so glad I decided to bring an umbrella on this hike. This ingenious piece of gear kept all the hail and snow and rain mostly away from me.

0/10 would not camp here

Give Us a Break!

The next day, I wake up to a full bladder around four in the morning. The moonlight illuminates our forested camp spot. Clear night sky above me, it is a relief to not see clouds in the sky.

A few hours later, I’m making the crucial decision to deflate my sleeping pad. It’s odd not being coached out of bed by the hiss of air as Everest opens the valve on his pad. He’s always the first one to go, but since he’s not here the job falls to someone else. Me this time.

I pack up my things, waiting until the last minute to put on my still soaked boots and socks. Icy water gushes in between my toes as I take my first steps of the day.

I climb up, out of our shadowed campsite, towards the light and warmth of the sun. The last remaining clouds sit low atop the mountains we crossed yesterday. As they slowly blow off, they leave a layer of snow in their stead.

I’m grateful that it has stopped raining for now. Of course, it had to. Every storm eventually runs out of rain. With the arrival of some different weather comes different challenges. My bottle of 50 SPF and I are ready.

Slip ‘n Slide

That next challenge just so happened to be the muddiest trail I think I’ve ever hiked through. And that’s saying something, I live in New England, next door to the aptly nicknamed “Vermud.” After crossing a river that was just barely low enough to cross, our team was slowed by mud that clung to your shoes like glue. You could shake your foot all you wanted but it would not come off. Every step added a pound of mud to your shoes. I felt like a baby deer learning to walk for the first time. It slowed our progress enough to get us to give up on getting to town that day.

The next day we slipped and slid into Pine. More nasty weather is on its way, but for now we are stocking up supplies in the van so we can avoid going into small trail communities. I also got a hair cut, but that’s another story. 😉

Be sure to check out NAMI NH, the organization I’m raising money for. They do all kinds of great things for the mental health community. If you so desire, the link in the footer will take you to a page where you can donate to them in support of my thru hike.