Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Singing [Joplin] In The Rain

No View Today at Dragon's Tooth

Thirty miles into our journey at the Walasi-Yi Center, the owner, Winton Porter gave the advice that the best training anyone can do to prepare for the A.T. is to hike every chance you get in the rain. Afterall, beyond the first 2 weeks, the trail is more of a mental journey than a physical one. So, to prepare our minds for this summer of living in the elements, we've kept low expectations for the number of sunny-days.

A temptation, when hiking in rain, is to gingerly step on the dryest parts of the trail and tip-toe around puddles - a fruitless exercise in delaying the inevitable. While taking a zero day at the Kincora we read another hiker's perspective about hiking in the rain, taken straight from some Janis Joplin lyrics "freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose."

Freedom comes when your feet are so soaked, you walk right through the puddles and streams of rain coming down the trail, because it doesn't matter anymore. There is a feeling inside of us that occurs at the moment this freedom is achieved, and it's powerful and playful! All of a sudden, our mood lightens, the day's enjoyable, and we're kids again! But it's how quickly you allow this change to occur within that brings total freedom.

Down the trail in the pouring rain I hike, sometimes singing "Bobbie McGee" as loud as I can belt out! If anything, it lightens the mood and makes Stitch laugh. We've had quite a few days of rain now, even three rainy days in a row through the Shenandoah, but I am still in the learning process.

So far, we remind ourselves of these things to keep our attitudes in check:

  • See the hidden beauty and each wet day as being the most beautiful in the rain
  • Stop walking and look up to see how tall the mountain is above me, how far the mountain continues below me, and realize how tiny I am, not the center of the world, and I can deal with this
  • Remember the importance of water and try to reflect of each of its life-giving properties
  • Keep a perspective that "this too shall pass" - reminding us that all good and bad times will not last forever so enjoy them for what they are and learn what we can

Janis, thank you for inspiring our journey. And to our readers, please let us know if you can think of any more to add to our list.


  1. Rock on Ben and Lauren!!! Water is the source of life !!! You guys have reminded me of my hike on the JMT 2 years ago where I got my shoes wet at every crossing, and where I drank selectively from every water source available without filtering or treating :-) Not only did I not get sick, but I was never more well and alive !!! Since then I have never treated or filtered water
    and have reaped only benefits. Tomorrow I leave for the Sierra High Route, a solo 3-week UL thru-hike without resupply. I have followed your journey since day 1 and will miss your inspiring stories and photos on the route. I look forward to checking in and see how you guys are doing when I come back. Gook luck and keep inspiring the world from the heart of Nature Divine !!! I love that Janis Joplin quote, "freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose." -- how true !!!

  2. Thanks Adrian. I hear you with the water. Have a great time in the High Sierra Playground! Curious what your 3 week provisions look like. Be safe and tell me about it when you get back. Best, Ben