The weather report for Saturday promised warmer temperature (low 40s) and rain. I really did not want to hike in the rain and mud but I know that there will be many wet, rainy days on the A.T. so I decided to throw on the pack and put in some miles.
The weatherman did not disappoint – rain and temperatures above freezing greeted me at the trailhead. What failed to register was that the rising temperature caused the four inches of snow on the ground to melt combining with the new rain to cause a super-sloppy, water-drenched path. The outside temperatures were fairly comfortable and I dressed appropriately, but the water on the trail itself was rather cold. I started out wearing toe-socks and my five-finger running shoes. In just a few minutes my feet were soaked, a continual condition all day long.
Saturday was some sort of special day for the Dayton Hikers Club at Caesar Creek. I must have passed 35 hikers throughout the afternoon. They were all friendly and many were interested in why I was hiking with my 32 pound backpack. Although it was good to see so many hikers on the trail and the friendly encounters encouraged me regarding the hiking community, 35 hikers on the same path really made the mud impossible to avoid. I was really struggling to find the best footprint on the trail.
When I realized that the ankle deep mud and water were impossible to dodge, I decided to approach the trail like I was 10 years old and like my grandsons would. I recently was walking my three-year old grandson across a church parking lot to the car. There were several puddles between the church exit and the car. He strained and pulled my arm so that he could walk through, jump in, and splash away each puddle. He had so much fun and I remembered doing the same thing as a little tike. So, I decided to try the same thing on the trail. Instead of attempting to avoid the center of the trail where the muddy, rain-filled ruts dominated, I walked right through the middle of them. I didn’t jump up and down, but I tried to enjoy the slop like a little boy – it really worked. Although I looked like a mud newt and my feet got really cold, the little boy inside was satisfied and I made better time in completing the hike. No adversity…no adventure.