If memory serves (which, in reality, it rarely does), last summer was a sunshine fiesta where every weekend provided blue sky backdrops for some seriously spectacular hiking adventures. I fondly recall frolicking through the hillside and mountain tops in blinding sunlight, vitamin D coursing through my veins. Every. Single. Week. Trails were bone dry with nary an annoying mud puddle to be found. Snow had melted by late June leaving the highest of our local mountains ready to summit. In short, I was spoiled by the most perfect of west coast weather.
This summer, on the other hand, welcomed us with cool temperatures, cloudy skies, and more rain than I’d like to see. It has reawakened the fair-weather hiker in me. I want to sleep in and eat eggs for breakfast instead of dragging my ass out of bed at ungodly hours and shoving “road toast” in my face as I drive to trailheads. I have explored shockingly few new trails to date this year. So far, Summer 2016 is a bit of a hiking bust and I blame the weather.
But is that fair? Yesterday, while cursing the crappy weather of late, I took a quick scroll through the old iPhone photo bank only to find that 2015 had not been as endless-blue-sky-and-sunshine-y as I had originally thought. Let us recount the reality of my 2015 hiking season:
- June 20th: clouds for days
- July 5th: forest fire smoke obscures any mountains
- July 10th: cloud and rain
- July 13-15th: clouds galore (though this may not be fair as, technically, I was in Alaska)
- July 18th: no views, all clouds
- July 24th weekend: Rain-fest in Mount Rainier (3 out of 4 days)
- August 21st extended weekend: Smoke-fest in Mt. Baker
- Labour Day: cloudy and cool in Mt. Baker
I mean, that’s not such a stellar summer after all. Memory has, once again, failed to accurately recall all the finer details.
As I thought about it more, I also realized that there are some serious perks to this year’s cooler, cloudier weather. Last summer, with all the heat and dryness, I experienced the following:
- I had to carry 3 times the water as usual to stave off unquenchable thirst and deydration–and I was still thirsty all the time.
- I felt like I was getting hit by a blast furnace any time I walked from shade into the sun.
- I had to shellac myself in SPF 45 just to keep sunburns at bay
- I was so exhausted from 30+ km days in the heat on the trail that I could barely function beyond 8 pm on any given hiking day.
I think the overwhelming evidence shows that my memory sucks and that this summer isn’t worthy of my hasty and harsh judgment. Summer 2016, maybe I owe you a bit of an apology.