We get this question a lot, and there isn’t a simple answer. With over 700 miles hiked on the AT, we’ve lost count of how many times we’ve been caught in the middle of a soaker. The first thing it usually does is dampen our spirits, but our attitude on rain has changed since hot weather moved in these passed few weeks. Just the other day as we climbed to McAfee Knob, a rainstorm hit and we were relieved. It was a nice change to have our clothes dripping wet from rain instead of sweat. We didn’t get to see the most photographed spot on the AT in all it’s splendor but we did have it to ourselves. According to us, that is worth more than a good view on the often crowded trail. The weekend before, when weather was more ideal, a Ridge Runner counted 300+ visitors to McAfee Knob in one afternoon. Some Thru-Hikers waited for days in the shelter that came before just for a picture with a clear view.
The thing any hiker hates most though is wet gear, especially when it’s our home away from home – our tent. So, last night as it started to come down on us we decided to go against our no shelter policy. The pups are getting more comfortable to the point we trust putting a little distance between them and us overnight. We laid their mats underneath the shelter where they would stay dry and cool, and that was okay with Lewis until the early hours of the morning when he prefers snuggling. We never seem to get our best rest when we stay in the shelters, but waking up dry with little break down to be done is a nice consolation.
As hurricane season hits we’re watching the weather even closer. Stories from 2011 Thru-Hikers who were caught in Hurricane Irene’s path are nothing to take lightly. We didn’t sign up for this because we were promised it would be sunny and 65 degrees everyday. Taking the conditions as they come is part of the challenge and the beauty. Some of our greatest memories yet have been watching threatening weather move in from the top of a bald or drinking coffee under the roof of a shelter waiting for the rain to pass. So, to answer the question, we hike rain or shine. Sometimes we wait it out for a few hours, sometimes we luck out and are in town, but we have yet to get off the trail solely when faced with bad weather. Days like this make the days of sunshine and cool breezes that much more wonderful.