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Camping in the rain

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Thinking about Scoutergriz’ “sights, sounds and smells” comments, for me it is the sounds.

When a storm in moving over and the first big raindrops hit the tarp, at first slowly, PLOOP. . . .PLOOP . . . .PLOOP, then faster PLOOPPLOOPPLOP, building to a constant pounding deluge. That is so satisfying when safe and dry under a well strung tarp.

Snowfall too, there is a peculiar hiss of snow falling on a tarp, even better sometimes in the canoe on the river, when all other sound is muffled except the sound of flakes hitting the water and the trees.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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I like paddling in warm climes and times, and since boyhood have loved paddling in a warm rain. There is a "singing" sound the rain makes on a calm lake that is hypnotizing and entrancing and seductive to me. Obviously, I'm not talking about Frankenstein rain with high winds and a lightening storm.

If I think the rain will be the singing kind and not the Frankenstein kind, I would rather break camp and paddle on than sit in a tent or under a tarp doing nothing. Or I might not break camp, and just go out for a Gene Kelly pleasure paddle.
 
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Rain is just another 4 letter word that also happens on a canoe trip. Best be prepared for it.
A gentle rain is pleasant enough and can easily be lived with. I love hearing it overnight drumming a soporific staccato on the fly. If it keeps up throughout the day then I'd rather be travelling than sitting it out in camp. For that matter I'd rather be doing the same on sunny days too. My wife is the exact opposite. She puts the camp in canoe camping. But that's all part of our tripping compromise.
Just recently I was seam sealing one of the tents and came across 2 old pairs of rain pants I'd purchased years ago from an Army Surplus. They've seen better days and were in need of seam sealing too, so they got the treatment. That leaves us with 4 prs of rain pants and several rain coats to choose from if we ever trip in the rain again. Which I expect to. Rain happens.
 
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Enjoy it? Sometimes. Not at all if it is cold rain and I have a cold tent and it is blowy enough to discourage paddling . A big tarp and temps above 10 c make for a pleasant rainy day experience. Sometimes portaging in light rain is enjoyable if it is not May and cold weather and cold water. I would say that a rainy cold day is the only time I start a fire. I do carry firestarter aka birch bark ( which I have a lot of on my property). I have not yet graduated to Chaga tea which might also help a rainy day. We just found a birch with Chaga and I am waiting for winter to really set in to harvest. I am just learning about that fungus. I tend to pace in camp on rainy days. I do take a book ( most likely several books on a Kindle which saves room but sacrifices firestarter) so I ought to take up some sort of other peaceful hobby like carving though I would be the one to slice off a fingertip.
 
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Most of my trips, due to my work schedule, happened in the spring. As a result, I have been rained on … a lot. Now that my situation has changed and can paddle latter in the season I do not miss the volatility of spring in the boreal. I have dealt with steady cold hard rain for 6 days straight, days of driving rain, 2 weeks of on/off rain, cold winds …. I am not a fan.

last weekend I went for a two day paddle down the Wisconsin River. Saturday, cold ( high 20’s low 30’s) and windy but really a great day … tons of Eagle sightings, Sandhills cranes, and a great camp spot about 12 miles from put in, out of wind very peaceful. Sunday , windy in the face, and rainy. Again, about 12 miles of icy gunnels, wind and rain in the face … by the time I arrived at the take out I was ready to get off the water.

So, rain on a trip …. I will be prepared for it, but am sick of rain and prefer to not have to have to deal with it.

Bob.
 
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I thought Shackleton was crazy (for polar exploration), but he did apparently say "there's no such thing as bad weather, only improper clothing". And I tend to go camping when a lot of other folks won't... I go because I planned to, and took the time off work, and have the skills to stay warm, dry, and comfortable... that said, of course I certainly would rather it didn't rain and be 33* the whole trip.

Despite that, I still struggle with the issue... site selection is critical to my normal tarp setup... since moving back north, I'm more likely now to take my hammock setup, especially in a new area, just because it's able to compensate for a lot of ills; rocky ground, hillsides, poor drainage, forced camping in fixed sites, etc... Camping mostly in NF lands, with no restrictions, as well as a deep layer of pine needle duff over a largely sandy soil meant there were few drainage problems. Rain gear in the South was simple: a poncho always worked, nearly year round, and if you calves and feet were wet, so long as you wore wool socks, it wasn't unbearable.

Not so in the Adirondacks... poncho's fine from June-Aug... but I prefer April/May, and Sept/Oct... colder, rainier, windier. On 2 of my 3 trips this past spring, I got soaked to the skin on my last day, leaving in the rain, because I haven't figured out the right combination of pants and jacket and hat... Don't want to carry too much, evidently not carrying enough.

Best combo I've come up with yet is a wool base layer under a tightly woven shirt, with a poncho around my lower body. Still looking for the 'one hat' that will shade my eyes, remain cool, and keep rain off (the Tilley is not it). A ball cap and rain jacket work great in camp, but you sweat to death paddling in a rain jacket, getting wet anyway, from the inside.

I used to use DriDucks for backpacking, and they worked pretty well... Heard that Frogg Toggs are essentially the same, and recently bought a set to try. We'll see.

I've also looked at a spray cover, but that gets expensive.
 
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Mike, I'm not familiar with Lieutenant Dan, but watching his demonic rage on the clip was cathartic. I'd hesitate to trip with him in a tandem boat, though. Might consider fully autonomous co-soloing with him if I could know with certainty he was unarmed and I had my own personal can of pepper spray on a hip holster.
 
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When I was in high school, I had an after school and weekend job at a car wash.
I also had a motorcycle as my only independent mode of motorized transportation.
The only days I had off from the car wash were rainy days.
Eventually, with some good rain gear, I looked forward to those rainy days.
Well, I still ride a motorcycle, and I still enjoy some rainy days. A good tarp, tent, and good rain gear makes those rainy days not too bad when camping.
I do love to be in a good thunderstorm while camping on an ADK lake, with the thunder echoing around the lake for what seems like days.
I also like hearing the approaching rain, and watching an approaching squall line...

But after a full day, or more, of rain, I do get tired of pruney fingers.
 
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Prior to our first ever “canoe trip” (many years ago) my sweetie and I participated in a weekend workshop with Rolf and Deb Kraiker. It was at the end of April. The weather was miserable. High winds and freezing rain. I dumped my canoe while solo paddling.

The experience was invaluable. We learned that with good gear, appropriate clothing, and an awareness of rescue techniques, we could be warm, dry and safe in any weather that we would ever encounter.

That being said, we still prefer dry weather while tripping. ;)
 
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I've enjoyed this thread. When I was younger I used to be indifferent to rain on trips. I never tried to plan around forecasts. With age and experience, that's changed. After brushes with two separate wind events, a tornado and a microburst, some particularly miserable and unsafe spring ice-out conditions, and yes, getting decidedly less masochistic with age, I confess: rain does little to buoy my spirits on backcountry trips, especially when solo. I've learned a lot from past mistakes about gear, clothing, and safe practices. Nonetheless, as a ceiling of grey cloud blankets the view and thunder rumbles in the distance, I'm almost certainly visited with mild, but thankfully, manageable, feelings of doom.
How long is this rain going to last and what the hell am I trying to accomplish out here?
I persevere. I endure. I may even gloat when I'm bone-dry buried in wool and down in a chair under the tarp. But I'm by far happiest under sunny skies, rising barometric pressure, and in gentle breezes.
 
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One of the things I learned fairly recently about living with rain and being wet was on a guided 8 day sea kayaking trip in Haida Gwaii. The area is very wet, rainy and humid and sea kayaks don't have a lot of storage. Participants were told to bring two sets of clothing. One set was your wet clothing. One set was your dry clothing. Every morning when we got up, we put on our wet clothing. That was not too much fun. It was, at least, damp and usually quite wet and it was very cold and it did not slide on easily. It wasn't too bad once it got warmed up but it wasn't great. The best part of the day was just after we put up tarps and tents and got to change into our dry clothing. We couldn't have carried enough clothing to have dry clothes every day. It worked and the experience has changed my approach to rainy weather.
 
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I love plopping down by a fire with a good tarp over me and a good book or conversation while the skies open up, or walking a trail when all the amphibians and small animals are scurrying around, and fall tamaracks are almost magical the way everything around them takes on their golden glow.
how long does the good tarp over you last with a fire by you? I’ve never had the nerve to put a fire under the tarp. How’s this work? I did read about using two tarps set in opposing lean-to configuration ( /\ ) with a vertical gap at the top. Seems logical enough, but sparks fly and I’d want expendable tarps.
 
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I like having changes in weather during a canoe camping trip, so I don't mind some rain. I have the gear and clothing to stay warm and dry so it is not a problem. That being said, I like going in dry and coming out dry.
 
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Participants were told to bring two sets of clothing. One set was your wet clothing. One set was your dry clothing.
That's been our practice for over 30 years. There are some cold mornings up here too, but it really encourages you to get moving.
how long does the good tarp over you last with a fire by you?
We usually bring a cheap poly tarp with us, if it gets pinholes or whatever, slap some duct tape on. However, I have used my CCS tasrp over a fire too, just hang it a little higher and don't make a bonfire.
 
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how long does the good tarp over you last with a fire by you? I’ve never had the nerve to put a fire under the tarp. How’s this work? I did read about using two tarps set in opposing lean-to configuration ( /\ ) with a vertical gap at the top. Seems logical enough, but sparks fly and I’d want expendable tarps.
Been using the same polyester tarp for about 30 years and still no burn holes, but I string my tarp a couple of feet away and parallel to the wind- down wind is pretty obviously a bad idea, but so is up wind because you create an eddy that actually draws smoke in. Also most of my fires are fairly small and compact, not big bonfires.
 
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A rainy day can be relaxing. Always prepare for rain. Best camping experience was one rainy morning, under a tarp with my wife enjoying breakfast and a hot cup of coffee. It was so peaceful hearing the rain on the tarp and watching the mist over the water.

However one spring solo trip I cut short as all it did was rain with strong winds. Forecast kept worsening and figured I wouldn’t be able to do much, merely endure.
 
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I have been camping for about 60 years. I am as comfortable camping as I am at home. If it is raining, I don't want to go camping, but if it starts raining while I am camping, it doesn't bother me.
 
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