Stepping silently is impossible, especially in the woods. But under the refuge of a heavy rain, each step disappears, blunted and blended into the sounds of the rain. If ever I needed to escape or evade, I would hope for a downpour to hide my sound, my scent, my very presence, truly allowing me to leave no trace.
Perhaps it is the feeling of being encapsulated in a rain shower that causes an illusion of privacy. As we put one foot solidly in front of the other, I forget my companions. I look around in a panic realizing I haven’t heard Tisen’s familiar jingle for quite a few yards. He is close at my husband’s heels, still trying to keep his head dry by hanging out under the over hang of Pat’s pack. He hasn’t yet learned rain is its own kind of shelter.
Stepping through the rain becomes a meditation. I cannot hear my own breath nor even my thoughts. My mind has gone still and I focus on planting a trekking pole, placing a foot, planting the other trekking pole, placing the other foot. I feel the muscles in my arms flex as I push off the poles. I feel the twinge in my knee that threatens to turn into a sharp stab should I push it too hard. My shoulders are already screaming. I shift my focus back to my steps. I don’t think about the distance left or the distance behind. For those moments, I am my feet, my arms, my shoulders, my legs. My boots and the ground move together as if the earth moves with me and all of me has melted; I am the rain.
Then, it stops raining. My metaphysical moment evaporates even before the sun dares to break in through the clouds.
Returned to my more mundane reality, we find a spot to stop for a snack. I slide out of my pack and dump it, rain cover down, onto a log. It looks like an overturned turtle who has given up and stopped waving its legs.
I can’t remember ever enjoying trail mix so much as I enjoy it standing on the trail with a grumbling stomach, wondering if we will make it back without stopping for lunch. Tisen stretches out and opts for a quick nap while we finish eating our apples before strapping our packs back on.
Now, the wet forest demands my photographer’s eye. Every stretch of the trail reveals even more beautiful mushrooms. I do my best to capture some of them with my 24-70mm lens, but I wish there were such a thing as a weightless macro lens and tripod so I could get up close and not worry about camera shake.
We hike faster as we get near the end. My mind is no longer in the moment. I’m longing for when I can set down my pack and know I don’t have to pick it up again for a very long time.