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The wetter the better

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November 2023 Issue

Tramping in the rain might not be on your bucket list, but here are nine wonderful reasons why it should be.

“It looks like rain. You’re going to get wet,” said the elderly woman collecting her post as I hurried past towards the ridgeline of the Brynderwyns in Northland. 

Not long after, with a muesli bar halfway to my lips, I realised the sky’s gathering darkness was swarming and heading straight for me. I had two minutes to don a raincoat before the biblical deluge struck. I was drenched in seconds.

I could have moaned about the discomfort and lack of summit views, but trudging through the cloud-clogged Brynderwyns with the patter of rain on my hood turned out to be a magical, enriching experience. 

The wet-moggy look is not for everyone, nor is pitching a tent in the rain. But there’s something about walking in the rain that you don’t get when the sky is clear. 

It’s better than watching telly or being stuck in a tent

Walking in the rain beats the boredom of being stuck indoors. You’re outside, the blood’s pumping and rain has the benefit of bringing you back to the present and your connection with nature. Plus, if you’re on holiday, who wants to waste one day of that precious annual leave? 

It sounds cool

Search Google for the most-loved sounds, and rain will always be near the top of the list. Sure, the sound on a hut’s tin roof or a tent fly when you’re nice and dry might be the ideal, but even in a raincoat, the pitter patter of drops on your hood is curiously comforting. Listen closely for the full orchestra: drips from trees, the rush of miniature waterfalls and rivers, and the squelch of your feet along the trail. 

It’s atmospheric

Think cloud curling around mountain tops or walking through a dripping mist-shrouded forest. There’s a primaeval otherworldliness when the skies are heavy with rain and fog. Add rain’s earthy outdoors smell and a touch of wind, and those tramps can be when you feel most alive.

It’s a good excuse for a low-level tramp

It’s easy to get sucked into bagging summits and forget about low-level tramping like river trails, coastal walks and low-altitude forest tracks. A low-level walk in the rain in the forest is perfect. Navigation is easier and safer at a lower altitude, where visibility is often better than higher up. You also get more views for the same reason.

Popular trails will be quieter

At the mere mention of a spot of rain, fair-weather walkers will stay at home. That means fewer people on the trail, especially on popular day walks. And that means a lot more trail to yourself, more privacy and a sense of space and peace, and no queue for that Instagram photo.

It’s a good excuse to embrace your inner child

Rain means puddles. Puddles mean jumping and splashing. You’re already wet, so where’s the harm in going a bit further, having a bit of fun, acting like a child?

It provides a sense of achievement

Arriving home dripping wet, knowing you’ve bagged some summits or walked the klicks, is an epic feeling. Furthermore, you hit legend status when it’s realised that other walkers sat in front of the telly or hunkered down in their tent.

Friendly people take pity on you

Need to hitch back into town? If it’s raining, your chances can be better. In my experience, offers of shelter, food and cups of tea are more likely if you’ve been walking in the rain.

Hot showers are better

After trudging for hours through the teeming rain, home is finally in sight. That first moment when you strip off wet clothes and plunge under a hot shower is a moment of bliss to be savoured. It’s when we really appreciate what we’ve got.