Countdown 28 Days – 4 Weeks!
I double checked the weather last night and the forecast was for rain – I was still optimistic that rain could mean a drizzle… or even very scattered showers… or even an early morning rain with beautiful sunshine in the afternoon. Before I went to bed, the hourly forecast informed me that the rain would start around 11:00; showers at noon; turning back to rain at 1:00; and then changing to light snow about 4:00. Sunrise was to be at 7:36, so my plan was to get up in time to hit the trail around the sun’s first rays. I figured I could hike for almost three and a half hours before having to dodge the raindrops. On a dry trail, I could be around the 10 mile marker in 3 ½ hours.
I was in my Civic driving to Sugarcreek MetroPark at 7:30 hoping to enjoy the sunrise from my steering wheel. Instead, I needed the windshield wipers just to see the road. It wasn’t pouring down, but it wasn’t dry either. I immediately saw my first 10 miles taking on a different flavor. I had jumped into my sandals before pulling out of my garage thinking that I would hike in my Chacos until the rain made the trail sloppy and then I would switch to hiking boots.
My sandals lasted 1.5 miles as the weatherman was off by several hours. The rain really picked up steam about 8:30 and I had changed shoes, put on my raincoat/pants, and dressed my backpack in its rain-cover. I thought of my fellow hikers already on the A.T., how they had little choice but to persevere in the rain – I was determined to hike 18 miles with them today.
My rain gear worked great! My boots kept my feet comfortable and warm. The rain, however, caused streams of water to cascade down the trail emptying into the creek below. Soon the trail developed huge pools of water but the path underneath maintained a pretty solid surface making the hike very manageable. The creek quickly began to rise. Sugarcreek MetroPark has a great 3.1 mile loop trail – my primary path when I visit. There are two places along this loop where the creek crosses over the trail. These crossings are usually easy to maneuver with nicely placed stepping stones. The first three loops were fine as the stones were visible and the trek across the stream was as normal. However, on my fourth circuit the stream began to fill with the drain-off of the rain. The stones were barely visible and most were under water. I got my feet wet up above my ankles but I forded the stream successfully. The fifth and sixth laps were even worse. The temperature dropped all morning and the water in the stream was COLD. No adversity…no adventure.
Having completed my 18 miles, I left with a feeling of accomplishment. The rain had not discouraged me! The overflowing creek had not won! And I walked to my little red car with a positive spirit and optimistic smile on my face.