Sunday, August 29, 2010

Caught in the rain

The weather was still unusually cool on Saturday, so I headed for the end of Packsaddle road again. I was either going to go further along the wash than I did Thursday, or I was going to climb a small mountain near where I stopped last time. When I got out of the truck, though, I heard thunder. It looked like it was raining pretty far away to the north. I was going north, but not that far. I decided to hit the trail and see what the weather did along the way. I had two ponchos in my backpack so I wasn't worried about getting wet.

Some dark but harmless clouds near my destination.

There's some rain over there.

Should I climb a mountain or not?

By the time I got to the mountain that I was thinking about climbing, the thunder had faded away. I started up. There was a very nice breeze and I could stay out of the sun most of the time, though I did stop in the shade of saguaros 2 or 3 times to cool off. When I was about halfway up, the sun wasn't a problem any more. I looked to the west and saw that it was blocked by a big, dark cloud. It wasn't raining, though, and I didn't hear thunder. I continued up.

A cloud blocking the sun.

A fluffy cloud over the Supes.

The cloud starts producing rain.

The top of the mountain turned out to be a steep pile of rocks. I looked at it from three sides and decided that it wouldn't be safe for me to climb. That was disappointing because I had been looking forward to getting some pictures looking down at where I had been in June. By the time I had found my way around those three sides, it was starting to thunder in the distance. Time to get off the mountain. I started off slow because I wanted to enjoy the view some more and because I didn't want to go the wrong way and have to backtrack and because my legs were tired. About halfway down I had to stop to put empty water bottles in the pack and get full ones out. I got a poncho out, too. The thunder sounded louder and I decided it was time to hurry down the rest of the way. After a couple of minutes of hurrying it started to sprinkle. I wrapped the poncho around the camera. After another minute I decided to put the poncho on so I wouldn't be trying to do it in a downpour. I'm glad I did because it started raining hard almost as soon as I had it on. Big fat raindrops. Bare rock was wet and slippery. Everything else was wet, but fortunately there was no slick mud. I had to slow down a lot, though. It was kind of fun to be hiking in the rain. I could enjoy it because, even though my legs were soaked, the truck wasn't far away.

The rain was the most fun part of the hike, but I don't have any pictures. I don't think it would be a good idea to get the camera and lens soaked. I watched tiny streams flowing into the wash I was following and hoped I would see the wash start flowing. It didn't rain long enough, though. I was walking along the wash thinking about how it seemed that all of the thunder was coming from up in the clouds. Sometimes monsoon storm lightning is mostly cloud to cloud. About that time there was an especially bright flash. I started counting. At 5 seconds I started to wonder if I would be able to pick out the thunder of that flash from the almost constant background rumble. At 6 seconds a very loud boom gave me my answer. 1.2 miles seemed uncomfortably close if that was cloud to ground lightning. I was glad I was in the wash not not still on some ridge. I quickened my pace until I came to a puddle that looked familiar. I was pretty sure it was the puddle that had hundreds of tadpoles two days earlier. Now there were none. I don't think they could have grown legs and walked away already, but I don't know a lot about tadpoles. As I stood pondering this mystery there was a very bright flash to my left. I started counting and looked up at the peak I had just left, which seemed to be where the flash had been. At 2 seconds a deafening boom made me jump. That was exciting. I think I'll leave myself more margin next time.

Click below to see all of the pictures.


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