Words & Photos by Sarah "Sniffles" Legg
Usually, rainy days have a negative connotation, but I tend to thrive in them. Not only does it cool down the day, wash off the Earth, and rid those annoying gnats while you’re hiking, but it also gives you a pretty amazing dramatic effect for singing and dancing. I am always sun hungry, but even the nastiest days can’t bring me down.
I stopped at David Lesser Memorial Shelter on the Appalachian Trail in West Virginia for a long, restful lunch. I knew there was a possibility of rain later in the day, but it was so lovely out, I was okay with taking it easy and sunbathing–just for a bit–with the pup, Tick McGee. The campsite we were aiming to reach for the night was only five miles up ahead, and it wouldn’t take long. I even decided last minute that I would stop by the little Sweet Springs Store, which was just a skip and a hop down a blue blaze, and maybe grab a sandwich and some snacks to go. I packed up my Southwest 40 to head out as I heard the thunder rolling in, confident that I would be okay.
If anything, what’s a little rain?
A lot of rain. That’s what it is–a lot of freaking rain and a crazy thunder and lightning storm that had us running. Not only were we running through the Appalachian Creek Trail, but for some reason, I was confident in hiking the last bit in my camp-flops. BRILLIANT. Slipping every step is my second hobby, you know. It’s PERFECT. I really couldn’t help but laugh. My pup Ziggy and I were running full speed, packs on, slipping and sliding, but still determined to get a nice cold sub from the store. A heart wants what it wants, right?
We make it to the main road. Huge sigh of relief, knowing that the store was only five minutes away. We began our road hike, also known as the “Side Runoff Puddle Sprint.” I was running as fast as my little legs could allow me while wading in a street stream up to my shins. It was comical until it wasn’t. Each step was confident and filled with power until I was right on top of something that gave in a little TOO much. My body stopped me in my path as I couldn’t help but look down to see what I was too terrified to accept. Slowly floating up from my foot disturbing its bottom-of-the-puddle rest was, of course, the worst thing you could step on when pretty much barefoot. Yes. A freaking dead raccoon. All I saw was his head surface above the water, and that was enough for me to get the frick out of that mess. So pumped to have been wading in raccoon death stew!
We finally made it to the store, got some snacks, and booked it back to the trail, avoiding any puddle possibilities this time. I finished the last few soaking miles singing as loud as I could and dancing harder than I was singing. I saw so much wildlife that came alive in the rain during this last stretch, no twisted pun intended, and it was a beautiful thing. I even ended the hike at the campsite to find one last beer that was part of the trail magic left by an angel. At that point, it was liquid gold in a can.
Better still, I went about setting up my dry tent, my dry sleeping bag, and I put on some dry clothes. It’s nice not having to focus on keeping everything in my pack moisture-free. It does the job for me.