The last few days (weeks?) have been rough. Bear Squad has been doing a series of twenty plus mile days and the rain has been nearly constant. Rain isn't a problem if it comes and goes, but when it lingers it siphons morale. The clouds block the sun making it hard to dry tents and packs and gear and kill the odor causing microbes. Everything is damp and smelly. In the morning I drag on wet socks that squish with every step. My boots weigh twice as much when saturated. Our clothes are heavy and cold. Blisters and rashes proliferate. It is a malaise of unpleasantness that turns all the chores of camp life into burdens. We are slower setting up and breaking down our tents and crawling from our bags. We procrastinate. We force ourselves to eat and sip fluids. We move more slowly. But always we move on.
Once we found ourselves trapped on an exposed ridgeline in a thunderstorm with no choice but to lose altitude as fast as possible. We sang to keep our spirits up, but The wind stole our voices. We had to touch heads and shout at some points to be heard. For two miles we scrabbled down rocks. Some of our party lost the trail in the storm and were forced to bushwhack up the mountain. Another time we found ourselves climbing fallen branches in a furious downpour trying to free our entangled bear bags.
Then we make a fire and cook a hot meal, and the cold fades. We change into our carefully protected dry clothes and the damp is barely felt. We sip coconut Malibu from ninja turtle flasks bought at Walmart and imagine ludicrous back stories for characters we've met along the way. We read the graffiti on the shelter and the log book to see who's dissing whom. We get a hot meal at hostel or drink a bud light in agas station parking lot. The sun cuts through the clouds and we strip drown to dry what we can. For a few moments, we don't smell quite as bad.