My money's worth and then some....
Found myself at the gym Saturday morning wondering why I was not hiking. After all, I'm always blathering on about how much I like to hike in the rain and the prediction for the Supes was a 100% chance of rain. Finished the workout, went home, changed and headed out to First Water. While there was a great deal of wind, I saw zero rain between Gilbert and the First Water TH. Had purchased a new pair of hiking shoes last week and this would be my first outing in them. However, given the 100% chance of rain I opted to wear my old shredded pair instead. A lot of dust clouds along the trail but no rain. I began to feel cheated, where was the rain I was promised. When nearly to the top of Bull Pass, it started. It was coming in hard and fast. As I crested Bull Pass I was nearly blown off my feet and it started coming down hard. For a brief second I thought about making a dash for the car. Then I remembered the car was about 2 hours away and I really wanted to see the view from the top of the mesa anyhow.
I thought Yes! I was finally going to get to use my "poncho"!!! (Poncho history...bought this poncho for $8 approx 4 years ago and have never taken it out of its carrying case. It's been on countless hikes all over the state, into other states and actually made it to the Southern Yucatan along the Belize/Guatemalan border, just in case I needed it while climbing Mayan Pyramids)
Started up the trail from Bull Pass to the top of the mesa while simultaneously pulling out and attempting to put on the poncho. The wind was so strong that it must have been comical watching me try to get into it while muttering a few choice phrases about the quality of the poncho and the situation that was rapidly unfolding. (Trust me, none of those phrases included the word "pumpkin") Once on, I continued up path and within 20 to 30 paces, my never before worn plastic poncho had already snagged on multiple bushes and shrubs, tearing in several places. As I was getting soaked/pelted with heavy rain, struggling against the wind to keep my feet (I don't weigh much) and watching the sky continue to blacken above me, all I could think was that this was totally unacceptable. I thought come on, seriously, how much does a guy have to spend to get a quality poncho?
Once at the top of the mesa the views were not as promised. You'll see my prize photo of Weaver's Needle in the photo set. My hands were so cold that I could barely operate the camera. That's when fate stepped in to assist. My batteries went dead, thereby relieving me from the need to take additional photos. As my hands were stiffening up I couldn't help but take pride in the fact that I had purchased not 1 but 2 pair of gloves for hiking. I was however, more than a little disappointed that both pair were lying side by side in the trunk of my car back at the trailhead.
By the time I descended to Bull Pass, I was soaked from my toes to my waist and my finger tips to my elbows. If it hadn't been for my trusty "poncho", I'd have really been in trouble. By the time I'd made it back down to the flats, my shoe came untied which allowed me to experience the most amazing thing. My hands were so cold and stiff I couldn't tie my own shoe. Must have taken 2 minutes and multiple tries to get it half tied. After a while, I realized I was also trudging through trail with 8 to 10 inch deep mini-lakes. You know by then, it really didn't seem to matter anymore.
Somewhere around the Black Mesa/Dutchman intersection outbound, I passed 3 young hikers heading inbound. Two males and a female and 2 out of the 3 were wearing shorts. I couldn't help but feel empathy for them as they were covered in little more than plastic garage sacks, not quality poncho's with their own carrying case, like mine.... I was also concerned for them as they too appeared to be soaking wet, only minimally equipped, nearly an hour and a half from the trail head and with darkness only 90 + minutes away, heading in the wrong direction, in my humble opinion. Approximately 20 minutes later I thought I heard someone calling out from behind so I turned around. It was one of the young hikers, the one wearing the blue garbage bag. I stopped to wait for him to catch up. He said, "do you know where you are?" I said "I do, do you?" He indicated that he did not. He and his companions had somehow gotten turned around and didn't know which way was "out". I assured him that the direction I was going was "out" and he asked how many miles back to the trailhead. I shared that for me, the car was a little over an hour away. He thanked me and turned around heading back in to find his friends. (I did see the 3 of them arrive safely at the trailhead before I departed. In fact, I waited for them to drive out and I followed them.)
Once at the car, as anticipated, my fingers were unable to get the remote out of my pocket. Had to push it up to the pocket top from below by pushing and nudging with both hands. Once in the car, the heat came on full force and it still took 15 minutes before I regained enough dexterity to remove wet clothing and shoes and drive away.
I guess the moral of this story would be...be careful what you wish for...