Hiking in the rain as a completely different sport. When it’s raining you tend to not want to stop. But you need to stop to rest and to eat food. I got very lucky today with timing my food stops with very brief periods where the rain let up and then immediately started pouring again.

Early Start to the Day

I was able to get out at 7:00 today. I am not likely to go past Camel Lake Campground. It is only 16 miles away. There is one more camp about 2 miles past that, but after that it’s a 10-mile road walking to Bristol which is too far.

It barely sprinkled last night off and on. I was expecting it to rain quite heavily. And in the morning I was relieved to see that the tent wasn’t very wet at all. I was careful about placing the edge of the tent lower so that no water could get inside.

Leaving the campsite started with a short road walk on a freshly paved road.

Wet Trails

The grass is wet with rain, so my shoes get wet pretty quickly. I am also still in Apalachicola National Forest, so every mile or so the trail gets very swampy and muddy.

There are a few sections every few miles where you do have to wade through ankle to calf deep water for a hundred yards or so. It is nothing like Bradwell Bay, but it is still a pain.

It is mostly raining very lightly, but as the afternoon approaches it starts to rain quite heavily. Before I left camp I made sure that my coffee was ready so that he didn’t have to stop and fix it. I was also fortunate that I stopped for an early lunch break at the Vilas Campground.

Because shortly after I left is when it started raining pretty hard. Hard enough you don’t dare stop.

I had plenty of snacks in my pockets because I knew I wasn’t going to want to stop very much. But as the afternoon approached I was getting tired and would have liked to stop just for 10 minutes to get off my feet.

A typical forest road roadwalk

Right around coffee time, the rain did let up so I took the opportunity to stop and have a quick snack and make coffee at the same time. I’m glad I did because it started raining pretty hard just a few minutes after I resumed hiking.

I was only a few miles from the campground and I knew that bathrooms and showers awaited me.

Camel Lake Campground

The campground itself is in a sandy pine area. I was happy to see this because it means there won’t be muddy trail or campsites. I got there about 3:30 so the camp hosts were busy checking people in.

They said they were full and could not accommodate walk-in hikers today. But at least I was able to get a shower.

I found out Jack and Mickey were already there and the camp host had offered them the primitive spot they reserved for the hikers. But Mickey said what they pointed to was a low point off to the side that looks like it would fill up with a water. And because it was still going to rain another day and a half there’s no way anyone in the right mind would want to camp in a depression.

They were hanging out under the picnic pavilion out by the lake and the swimming area. It was pretty large and had four picnic tables. It was a great place to wait out the rain.

This will be home for the evening.

They were planning on going a little further and stealth camping. But because the rain still wouldn’t let up and actually got harder, they decided they were just going to try and camp under the pavilion. And that sounded like a perfect plan to me, too.

Just before dark the camp host came over and let us know that it would be okay to hang out under there overnight. No one was going to be picnicking or swimming in the rain. And we were only 40 yards from a bathroom. Sounds like a perfect spot.

Even though the rain had never stopped, I set out a few things to try and dry. And to a my amazement, some of the things actually did dry pretty well.

That was good, because we were cowboy camping in our sleeping bags on the bare concrete. I could have put my tent over myself, but then my body vapor would condense on the inside of the tent.

I just hope the rain doesn’t get so bad or the wind so high that it starts blowing rain in on us while we’re trying to sleep. That would not make for very pleasant sleep.

Emotion of the Day

I think I need to pick exhaustion today.

I normally only get exhausted when it’s hot outside. And the rain today kept it very cool.

But because there were so few breaks in the rain, I was not able to stop and take even quick 5 minute breaks. If I had not timed my lunch and coffee stops perfectly, then I would not have been able to stop to do those things any other time.

And in the afternoon before getting to the campground, I was getting pretty tired. If I could have stopped for just 10 minutes that would have made all the difference in the world. But when it’s raining pretty heavily you don’t want to take your backpack off and you certainly don’t want to set it on the ground.

So you just keep hiking in the rain, and that is exhausting.