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Hiking Adventures in the Rain

This section is all about rain hiking, wildlife watching, and nature at its best.

There are a few things that separate more experienced hikers and backpackers from less experienced ones. The top skill is hiking and swimming in the rain, something that a lot of hikers go to great lengths to avoid.

If you only hike on days when there is no chance of rain, you won’t do much hiking. Sooner or later, you are going to get soaked through on a hike, even before you go for a swim. Once you're perpared for this with the right equipment and clothing, you'll learn to enjoy getting wet immensely. There are many benefits with hiking in the rain. Studies have shown that spending time with nature helps reduce stress levels.

Empty Trails and Clean Air

Not many people like to go for a hike in bad weather, they rather stay home and miss out. You have the freedom of the trail, and burn more calories during outdoor activities when it’s raining. The air is less contaminated during the rain. The smell of rain, Petrichor, the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil, is proven to have a soothing effect on people. Humidity makes your skin healthy, clean, and fresh.

You Will Get Wet

Prepare to get soaking wet and muddy on an amphibious trek. That is its appeal and where the fun comes in. Smart wildlife watchers wear clothes in the water to keep warm, avoid sunburn, protect from cuts and bruises in wild terrain, but also to add fun and excitement.

Wetland trekking is unpredictable. The thrill is that you may not know when you have to go into the water. One moment you're dry, the next you're soaking wet. Just when your clothes have dried a bit, there is yet another beauty spot beyond the water, and so you go in for another swim.

The most beautiful places in nature are off the beaten track, beyond rivers lakes and muddy trails. You may cross flooded ditches, crawl through mud pits, and clean off while swimming in a lake. The best part of a wet trek is when you go into a lake or stand under a small waterfall. It is a refreshing chance to clear the mud and dirt out of your clothes.

As children, many of us used to be told: “Don’t you go out in the rain, because you could get wet, catch a cold, and miss school." But now you’re an adult and you’re hiking in the rain without any fear of becoming ill. Getting wet in the right clothes doesn't mean you’ll get hypothermia. You just need to become a little more vigilant in managing your thermo regulation.

Wild Weather

Wet and windy weather can be exhilarating when hiking along the coast. Sea spray hits you often, while you keep a safe distance from the waves. On some promenades are safe places where the waves dump lots of water over hikers. A hiker’s #1 priority should always be safety.

When hiking in wet and windy weather for an extended period of time, it’s not so much a question of staying 100% dry (which is nigh on impossible), as it is maintaining a reasonable level of comfort whilst out on trail.

When hiking for extended periods in driving rain, staying “dry” often becomes a relative term. In colder conditions, hypothermia can become a very real possibility. Proper clothing can keep you warm, even when your are soaking wet.

Once you have the gear and experience required to hike safely in wet conditions, the key is a positive attitude. When the conditions are challenging, stay positive by viewing such times as stepping stones to greater bliss, with learning opportunities provided by Mother Nature that will help you improve your back-country skill set.

The only thing you have control over is yourself, your attitude and your actions. The elements couldn't care less about your first hike, your time record or your worthy cause. In rain hiking, as with all adventure sports, adaptability can determine whether you have fun or not.

Gentle Nature

Hiking in calm rainy weather may afford you some of the best scenery Mother Nature has to offer. When it rains you can experience nature at its gentle side. The ground is softer, the air smells fresh and full of fragrances.

Enjoy listening to the rainfall, watch the drops run off your rain cape, and the feeling as the rain is peacefully soaking you. Hiking through constant rain can be quite fun even though you get all wet.

The most beautiful places in nature are off the beaten track, beyond rivers, lakes and muddy trails. You may cross flooded ditches, crawl through mud pits, and clean off while swimming in a lake.

Soaking Hiker Wash

Hiker Wash is a cool morning phenomenon. Early in the morning, or after the rain, look at the beautiful lush meadows, the captivating thin ribbon of trail flanked by thick vegetation. You'll find it also near waterfalls. Lovely, yes, but also know what awaits you: the Soaking Hiker Wash. This is a nice experience when the temperature is warm and a refreshing start to your hike.

Also called Runner Wash or Mountain Biker Wash, the Hiker Wash occurs when saturated wet vegetation comes in contact repeatedly with your carefully dried trousers, shoes and socks. Wet brush on narrow trails will quickly soak your clothing. If the brush is tall enough it soaks the rest of your outfit. Your whole outfit. For days.

To protect from nettles and insects wear thin pants, a long sleeve top, and maybe your hiking cape. Now that you're ready, head out and get wet. Enjoy seeing other hikers traipsing in front of you, getting soaked while taking the Hiker Wash for the team.

Swap the lead position occasionally, so everyone has a chance to get completely washed, clothes and all. You will dry soon as you keep going after a good hiker wash. Definitely a happy experience!

Kit List for Amphibian Hiking

Every hobby has its essential gear, hiking and wetland wildlife watching is no exception.

  1. Waterproof marine binoculars
  2. Waterproof camera
  3. Waterproof mobile phone with GPS logger
  4. Field guide app
  5. Note taking app
  6. Quick drying clothes that can get wet
  7. A dark/camo poncho or cape to hide your shape
Attach all gadgets to you, so they don't get lost.

Cost

If you’ve ever bought waterproof hiking equipment you already know it usually comes with a hefty price, but this doesn't have to be so. Don't go for expensive technical fabrics. Simple nylon and polyester is fine, as long as it is breathable. A good breathable anorak or poncho, rain pants, robust footwear, and a hooded rain cover for your pack have you prepared for wet days.

No Swimwear

Swimwear is not needed. You can use unlined rain clothes as swimwear, because they dry quicker than shorts or swimsuits, and make good sun protection that doesn't wash off like sun lotion. Save the weight and help protect the environment.

Test your kit for comfort before your wetland hike. It should fit well and feel good in the water.

Reader Comment: Rain Maker

by Patrick, from Oakland, California

I’ve thought of renting myself out as a rain maker. If I didn’t hike in the rain, I’d never get out. My favorite time to hike is when it’s raining. There are always less people out then. A great reason to hike in the rain is to avoid the crowds. Most weekend warriors don’t like to get soggy, so I go out in the rain when I want to get away from all the dang people cuz lets face it, they are everywhere.

A few years ago, I flew to Montana, which was in the throes of a six year drought that didn’t break until the moment I set foot off the airplane. My friend and I delayed our trip to the Bob Marshal Wilderness for days and finally gave up and went anyway. It rained the full five days we were on the trail and we got soaked every day.

A couple years ago, my friend and I planned a backpacking trip. When we hiked we got sixteen inches of rain overnight. We cleared out just in time to miss the flood that killed twenty people at Albert Pike.

A year later, we hiked together on the Buffalo River Trail with a forecast of 1/4″ of rain. If the thirty six hour deluge that ensued only netted a quarter inch of precipitation, they were using government math to measure it.

Montana again with my brother, more rain. Arkansas with my nephews with another quarter inch forecast that was more like a quarter foot between the time we got up and I fixed breakfast, not to mention the rest of the hike. We were soaked all the time. Great fun.

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