Last weekend I took a 3 day and learned how to camp and ride in the rain without ending up a pitiful cold, drowning rat-like animal.
How to Camp in the rain:
I've used my one person backpacking tent exactly twice - once at Tevis (I forgot the stakes, used screw drivers instead. Cursed it everytime I had to crawl into it on my hands and knees and had a sharp sticker get me) and once on a backpacking trip (was very tired, kept knocking it down every time I tried to stumble in it) and discovered that it is actually a very nice tent to use when you aren't tired and grouchy. I set it up in my horse trailer, threw a thermarest, a sleeping bag, and down comforter inside and slept as snug as a bug for 3 nights, even though it POURED. I had all my fixings to make coffee within easy reach of my tent for the cold mornings, a light to read by at night, and a propane heater in the corner in case I got chilly. Everything stayed dry and I stayed happy.
Proper clothing makes a difference - Part 1
On Friday my aunt and I rode. It was RAINING. I was amazed at how much a "non issue" the rain was with my Gortex jacket. If I'm not wet and cold, the rain isn't that bad! My Serius gloves worked ok....since the seams are not sealed, they are water resistant only. My hands got damp, but they weren't cold - although they weren't toasty warm either. What I'm lacking is a pair of waterproof pants....which I need. I can stay warm for a while in wet tights, but after 2 hours I start to get cold and stiff. I tested out this theory again on Saturday, when I hiked....in the rain and snow....Again, I was fine until my pants got soaked and I got cold. (which nessitated me stripping out of them as soon as I got back to the vehicle, which prompted certain relatives who were accompanying me to do the same thing, which would have caused certain questions by any nice officers if we had gotten pulled over....but as we are not talking about it, I leave it to your imaginations).
Proper clothing makes a difference - Part 2 of clothing
For riding I used my Ariat winter boots, which were FABULOUS. I wasn't quite that lucky when I went hiking. I thought my ariat terrains went into the truck. It turns out I was wrong. I was left with the option of hiking in my knock-off Uggs OR my almost-worn-out-no-tread-left Muck boots. I chose the Uggs. As they have ZERO support, I'm counting the hike as my barefoot run of the week. They were suprisingly comfy, and gripped the trail nicely. Too bad they aren't waterproof. And one is a size 8 and one is a size 9. And for a $5 thrift store finds I think that this trip was the "end of the trail" for them.....
The Blanket Dance
The pen I was keeping Farley in didn't have a shelter, but fortunately I have a wide selection of (second-hand) blankets to make her comfy....and thus started the blanket dance. Sheet on, mid weight on, everything off, cooler and sheet back on...and back off. Do her ears feel cold? Mid weight back on.....and off. You get the idea. I don't blanket on a regular basis so it was nice to be able to discover exactly what Farley needs in inclement weather.
We got to ride exactly once on Friday. It was muddy! I haven't ridden Farley in a lot of mud, so I wanted to see how she handled herself. It was a technical ride with lots of creek crossing, banks with soft footing, TONS of cows, and mud-mud-MUD. It went well. It was only a 5 mile ride but it took us 2 hours to complete it. At one point she was floundering in soft footing going up a bank and I was sure she was going down. Rather than planning her line of attack on the hill, she had been distracted by half-grown calves on the the other side of the fence. She's incredible athletic, and by the grace of God leaped her way out with such grace my aunt decided to follow me (even as I turned around to say "I don't think that was a good place to go...."). Her ride up the bank was a wee bit more exciting than mine and included an emergency dismount and me yelling a very naughty word, coupled with "DISMOUNT".
I'm a little nervous about my lack of long rides since the beginning of January, but it is what it is. I'm going to try and do a 10-15 mile ride next Monday (a holiday) which should be enough to maintain fitness without risking our 100 mile ride on the 27th. I have a tendancy to override and over prepare for a race - which will DEFINATLY NOT be the case for 20 Mule team. Should be interesting......
So overall a very nice weekend for learning how to deal with the rain and still have fun. I have a feeling that most of my spring rides will be rainy, so I just need to come prepared.