22 May 2008

Rotten Rain

Today was a rubbish day. We were up at 5am and having breakfast by 6am in a restaurant down the street which was nice but slow and hard work to get the waitress moving..A bowl of porridge and some fried eggs later and we were off on the 75 mile journey to Dubois (pronounced 'do boys').
The weather channel had already told us to expect some bad storms with an 85% chance of precipitation and it didn't let us down. We had a lovely mixed bag of rain, showers, heavy rain, windy rain, sleet and more rain for the first 40 miles.

Gathering Storm

There were three stops which made things easier along the way. The first was a grocery store on an Indian Reservation where we shivered and put on more top layers before braving the rain again. The second was a lovely little rest area with bathrooms where we used the hand dryers to try and get some water out of our clothes. I switched my socks and shorts over for dry ones and tried to dry my gloves but to no avail. Ten miles later was the service station at Crowthorne where we sheltered from the rain, ate junk food and then chanced upon a bargain. For only $5 they were selling big rubber gloves that looked pretty waterproof and since my own gloves were full of rain water, I invested in these huge monstrosities. The whole time we were in the shop (30 minutes or so) the lady behind the counter seemed to suspect us of being shoplifters as she kept following us around the shop and watching us like a hawk. We twigged this and so split up to confuse her!

Carl soaked in the rest area

The real problem we faced today was not so much the rain as the cold. It was hovering a degree or two above freezing so that all of the rain your clothes had absorbed became a chilly coat of icy water around you. We were praying for the temperature to drop a couple more degrees so that it would snow since snow just brushes off you rather than seeping into your clothes and then your bones! Sadly, it refused to snow so I was unable to put on my long trousers since they would just soak up all of the rain and make me even colder so I persevered in my lycra shorts and 4 top layers covered by the rain jacket of dreams!

After a couple more hours, Carl and I finally made it to Dubois and found the hotel with some excellent help from a chap called Ammon who lives locally but comes from Utah. Great guy. The hotel is v.basic and I have left Carl back there trying to make the heater work but for 12 quid each for the night it is a lot better than camping in this weather. Also, now that we are here, the rain has turned to snow. Too little too late for my liking...

Tomorrow we have about 60-70 miles to do, starting with a 30 mile climb over a 9500 snowy mountain pass which may be closed if the weather worsens but apparently we end up at a cool set of cabins looking out over a beautiful lake (v.romantic) so I'll give it a go, weather permitting. 3 weeks til I finish so I can start to dream of Oregon but by the looks of the weather forecasts and the terrain maps, it isn't going to be an easy cool down session from here on in.

My clothes in the dryer
I also received 2 e-mails today from an A-Level student from Sussex and a guy from Brazil who are thinking of doing the trip so hopefully this journal will encourage them to give it a go (despite the rotten weather). Everywhere I go I am told by the locals that the rain/heat/snow/flooding is unseasonable and hasn't been like this for at least 10 years at this time of year so I guess I am just lucky... :-(

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