I wake up slightly before our alarm goes off to the sound of rain hitting the window. The excitement and confusion were overwhelming for me. California in the middle of the greatest drought in recorded history was getting rain? Then, I thought about all of the slightly damp laundry I had carefully hung outside the day before to dry. They weren’t slightly damp anymore. I guess it was for a good cause. I’m glad something finally worked.
Groggy, I lay there waiting for the alarm to go off excited for the hike that we had planned to do in spite of Super Bowl Sunday. We were going to head to a local open space preserve Purisima Creek Redwoods. The 20+ mile day hike was scheduled to get into better shape and test our gear for our Pacific Crest Trail Thru-Hike starting in June.
I was a little nervous about waking up Dormouse, thinking she would want to skip the days hike because of the steady rain outside. I definitely wanted to still go. If we were going to have an amazing hike on any day it would be on a rainy day with a major television event. The alarm went off and I let it go for 30 seconds. Dormouse was still sound asleep despite the beeping. I woke her up and told her the news. She was as excited as me because of the cool air, lack of people, and a whole day outside. We both were especially excited for seeing the creatures that come out of hiding during rain. Some of our favorite days hiking have been in the rain.
After gobbling up some breakfast and scrounging around for the rain gear we weren’t expecting to use. We were off for a walk in the park.
Starting out we parked outside the gate we worried that we wouldn’t be back before the gate closed at sunset. We were happy to see that we were the first and only people there. It was still coming down pretty hard and in the 40s. Getting ready for the cold rain another car showed up. It was a lady with shorts, a thin rain jacket, and an umbrella. I was happy to see someone use an umbrella for hiking because I am a recent convert to using an umbrella as a way of hiking in the rain. I didn’t really think she would be comfortable in her shorts though. I was content that Dormouse and I were properly outfitted for the situation with multiple layers and our wonderful trekking umbrellas. It wasn’t long before the woman turned around looking cold and defeated. We knew we had at least 20 more miles to go. We were headed to the farthest part of the park to see what was there. We knew a trail went there and roughly how far it was. That was enough for us.
Something I forgot about walking under an umbrella before adopting one for hiking is that umbrellas are really great for keeping you dry. Not only that they keep the sun off you when there is no shade. We walked comfortably, dry, and warm. Ok, we weren’t completely dry our feet got wet. There is definitely great benefit to having a dry face and head for moral. In warmer temperatures you can even keep cool while staying dry not having to wear a restrictive jacket to keep the rain from hitting you, while you sweat inside.
Along the way we saw hundreds of banana slugs. We were in Purisima the week before and had not seen a single one. If you know the area, that is a big deal. Although, given the record drought it is not surprising. We were glad that they were out in such great numbers. They bring a certain flare to hiking in the Santa Cruz Mountains that we have grown accustom to.
We even saw California newts. A few here and there along some streams. When we finally got to near the end of the trail at Lobitos Creek Trail we stopped for a second to look at the map and found ourselves completely surrounded by newts. We counted 20 newts while we stood in one spot. It was unreal the ground was basically moving. We were careful to move them aside off the trail before we moved on because we were going to come back the same way. We had to look really closely at each step because of their camouflage. After reaching the end of the trail we turned back and found that the area full of newts now had none. We happened to catch a mass migration of newts!
It reminded me of a day hiking on the Appalachian Trail hiking into Rockfish Gap in Virginia. On that day, we saw 280 red-spotted newts. Thru-hiking can be boring at times, so when something like this comes up we actually counted every single newt. We would never had seen so many newts if we waited to hike on a sunny day.
Besides happening into a great migration of California newts there also happens to be an impressive redwood tree at the end of Lobitos Creek Trail.
Towards the end of our hike back to the car the sky started to clear up and we saw great views of the evolving clouds.
Thanks to our umbrellas and warm clothes, we finished up our hike well before sunset in good spirits having spent the whole day in the rain happy to see the world that lives on wet days. If you haven’t tried hiking in the rain I would highly suggest it. Try it out in warmer weather first. Hiking with temperatures in the 40s – 50s can be dangerous due to hypothermia unless you know what you are doing. This doesn’t mean that hiking in the rain during warm weather is safe. Be prepared:
1. Be sure to wear and bring synthetic or wool clothing which dries much faster than cotton and is able to insulate while wet.,
2. Put on a layer before you take a break to keep warm. Keeping warm is easier than warming up.
3. Have a waterproof/windproof layer to keep the rain from cooling you off too much. An umbrella can help a great deal with keeping your dry and can be used with a lightweight wind breaker to save on weight and allow for greater breathability while active.
When you are all done with your rainy adventure let us know how it goes,
Mileage: 21.8 Miles
Time: 8.5 hours