If you ever have a day like the photograph to the right, than you know what my day has been like!
Here in the Redwoods it is either nice and sunny, wet, or it is really really wet.
Today, it was really really really wet – and I had already decided I was going to go for a hike, so no amount of rain was going to stop me!
This was the first hike of any distance since I injured my knee on June 26, 2012 that brought my 2012 hiking season to a complete stop, and threatened to bring my 2013 hiking season to an end as well. I finally got cleared to go back hiking, but was told to take it easy, so I decided to go right back to the trail that caused my knee injury eight months ago.
It was not an easy decision to head back to this same trail. As most of my readers probably know, so much of hiking is a mental challenge. When we first get into backpacking we go out and buy the most bombproof shelter we can find, usually weighing in at 4 or 5 pounds, and we carry at least two or three more sets of clothing than we would ever need on-trail. Eventually, if you stick with it long enough, you get over those mental issues that tell you that you can never ever ever have even a single drop of water get into your shelter, and that you really do not need four changes of clothing. After all, if triple-crowner Speedstick can hike almost half of the CDT in a single pair of socks, I think the average hiker can get away with the same. But, in the end the vast majority of thru-hiking, once you hit the trail, is all in your mind.
It was that same mind-set that I went out today and hiked some serious miles for the first time since my injury. I can be honest with myself and my readers and say that I stopped hiking more than once and almost turned around. But there was that something inside, that drive to keep going that long distance hikers know and understand, that just says “no!!!!”.
A few times the weather was clear enough for me to get some nice photos, here are some of them:
After years of hiking through this type of wet muddy trails I have learned that there is really no way to keep your feet dry. It just is not going to happen.
So my approach to dealing with this yuck and to wear your normal trail shoes (Inov-8 Trailroc 245 are my shoe of choice these days) and a pair of very light socks (Wigwam Cool-Lite Mid Hiker Pro) and a pair of 2 mm neoprene NRS Wetsocks. As I have written about before, the neoprene socks have nothing at all to do with keeping my feet dry (that is impossible) but rather to create a microclimate to help keep my feet warm – I hiked for hours with wet feet and my feet were not cold once, even though the rest of my body got cold a number of times. I also apply a bit of Gurney Goo to my feet before I put my socks on.
The trail that I was hiking has one of, if not the, highest waterfall in the entire North Western part of California. I stopped here for lunch and shot some video and took some photos.
It was amazing to get back out onto the trail for the first time in eight months. I called it quits before I had planned too, but I also pushed on a number of times when I thought I was going to quit. The road to recovery is never easy. Thankfully I live in a place as amazing as the Redwoods – and that always helps me getting back out onto the trail.