Sunday, July 13, 2008

0 A Half-Sunny, Half-Rainy Mountain Hike


The summit, at the start of the rainfall....

Start Time:
3 pm (approximately)
Temperature: 91 degrees (Fahrenheit) (N/A)
Humidity: 52% - 94% (before & during the rainfall!)
Distance: 2.6 mi (roundtrip) (It's 1.3 miles to the summit.)
Elevation Change: 560 ft.

Erik & I went hiking this afternoon. We did a total of 2.6 miles, which took us to a lovely mountain top vista & back.

We originally intended to hike a circuit of 4.4 miles total, but then our plans were cut short when it began raining & thundering (Yikes!) about half-way through, as we were almost to the summit of the mountain. Nonetheless, we still rock-scrambled (very carefully!) to the summit & took a few pictures, & then scurried back down the mountain the exact same way we came.

The hike to the summit is a steep incline all the way to the top, with very little level ground. In other words, it was a great aerobic workout! The reward for all of that climbing was of course the return passage. After all, what goes up, must come down. ;-)

Even though it rained & we didn't get to do the full circuit, which would've taken us past a lake & possibly some falls, we still had a good time.

Another photo taken at the summit. This one was taken from the top of the white rock outcropping shown in the previous picture.

As for the second half of the hike: What began as a perfectly beautiful sunny hike turned to a rather soggy one. ;-) Although we were dressed in entirely non-cotton apparel, it didn't really help us much, as we still looked like drenched (& rather muddy!) rats by the hike's end. The only part of me that managed to stay dry was the top of my head -- I'd quite inadvertently worn a waterproof hat -- It's one of my favorite hats that just happens to be waterproof. ;-) Too bad the rest of the outfit wasn't waterproof! Of course, the hat didn't really do much good without other waterproof items to keep the rest of me dry!

The only other item that stayed dry, quite ironically, was my Gerbal hydration system. Yes, the pack containing my water stayed dry. ;-) I really do like the unit, because it can hold up to 70 fl. oz. of liquid & also doubles as a knapsack; this means that I don't have to bring any other attachments or containers, because it has some rather handy exterior zip compartments with enough room for some basic essentials -- a few trail snacks, keys, ID, pocket knife, compass, trail map, mobile phone, etc.

Anyhow, as you can see from the picture on the left, our hike started out with much better weather. ;-) It might be hard to tell from the picture, because we were in the partial shade of the mountains, but the day began with some marvelously sunny & beautiful weather! In fact, if you'd only looked outside to gauge the weather, there would've been absolutely zero indication that it was going to rain later in the afternoon.

Out of curiosity, I made a point of checking the hourly weather report after we'd gotten back. (If only we'd have checked the forecast on the way out there!) As you can see from the below hourly report, the weather changed quite drastically in the span of just a few hours:

Time Condition Humidity
3:05 PM Fair 91°F 44%
4:05 PM Partly Cloudy 90°F 49%
4:45 PM Heavy Rain 77°F 78%
5:05 PM T-Storm 72°F 94%
5:25 PM T-Storm 72°F 94%

Wow! Look at that temperature drop of almost 20 degrees! The rain did cool things down considerably.

And true to form, as indicated by the above weather report, our hike through the forest had started out in rather hot & muggy weather conditions. With every footstep up the mountain, I kept telling Erik how overheated & warm I felt, even as I continuously sipped water through my hydration pack. Several yards into the hike, I'd even zipped off my convertible pant legs into shorts, which felt much better, but I still just couldn't shake that overheated feeling.

Erik appeared to be just fine. And he continued to feel just fine throughout the entire hike. So why was I the one who was feeling so overheated?!

The weird thing is that normally Erik is the one who typically gets overheated, not me! In the car, he was the one who'd insisted on air-conditioning, whereas I was perfectly fine with rolling down the windows. ;-)

There was one point where it felt so unbearably humid that I told Erik, "The air feels so heavy with humidity that it feels like it's going to rain..... And I hope it does rain, because that'd actually feel good right about now!" [I love those warm, gentle rains of summer! They (usually) feel so great!]

About half way up to the summit, I mentioned to Erik that I'd heard a noise that sounded like "someone upstairs rearranging furniture." Those of you who've ever lived in an apartment before know exactly what noise I'm talking about here. ;-)

Erik replied, "What noise?! I didn't hear anything."

Apparently, I was the only one of us who'd heard it(!), & at that, I wasn't sure at first that I'd really heard what I thought I'd heard. So we kept going. I didn't know it then, but it was the advance makings of a thunderstorm. It began as an infrequent, low, dull rumbling.

By the time we'd gotten to the summit, there was no mistaking the sound. It was thunder. Loud and clear. Of course, by that point, it was too late. So we just decided to turn around & head back as fast as we could.

Hmmmm. Should've trusted my initial instincts. ;-)

There'd been other signs that we probably should've turned around sooner. Another indication had been the sky: The sky began to darken as we made our ascent up the mountain, so much so that by the time we were nearing the summit, Erik commented that "It looked like it was going to rain." Of course, by that point, it was a bit too late to be noticing such things, because 5 minutes later, almost as if by magic, Erik's prediction suddenly came true. ;-)

With all of that humidity suspended in the air like big heavy bags of water sitting on our shoulders (well, I was actually carrying 70 fl. oz. of water on my back!), the rain was at first a very welcome relief indeed. And it did feel quite good. Well, actually it felt really good for about the first 10 minutes, and then it just felt... er, wet. And then it began to feel cold & wet. ;-) We felt a tad bit chilled as we got into the car. And this time, I insisted that Erik NOT turn on the air conditioning. ;-)

We got back, showered, & then just chilled. Of course by this time, we'd changed into dry clothes, so the "chilling" was no longer being done in the literal sense of the word. ;-)

We had a very calm & quiet evening. Around 6 pm, I unintentionally fell asleep on the couch & napped for a brief bit. Then we just relaxed for the remainder of the evening. Ahhhhh.......

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