Sunday, October 16, 2016

Rainy Day Idiocy

About a month ago, I got a text from Sarah inviting me to join a group of "drinkers with a hiking problem" on an October sunset hike in the old (unused, I was assured) train tunnels near Donner Lake. "Sounds awesome!" I replied, and the plan was set.

Last week, as it became apparent that most of Northern California would be getting rain this weekend--make that rain and wind, actually--I wondered if the event would be postponed. It was not. 

"You still in?" Sarah texted.

"Sure!" I texted back. Hey, a little rain never hurt me.

So yesterday, a merry band of idiots set out to hike in the Sierra Nevadas during a rain storm. The temperature without wind chill was in the low 40s, which is "fucking freezing" for the woman who lives in the Sacramento Valley, even if she did live in England for a year, and then Washington State. Hey, that was over a decade ago.

That's not to say that the day wasn't fun. I had a great time, even as I shivered in my rain-soaked shoes. Every once in a while, you just have to do something stupid, right?

I met Sarah and her dad Mike at Sarah's place at about 12:30, ready to go with my fleece-lined, rain-proof hooded coat (if it was good enough for London in February...) and a small bag of snacks to offer up. Shortly after we congregated, a fourth member of our ride party, Timarie, arrived, and we started making our way into the mountains.

What always amazes me about California is how quickly you can go from being in a valley that is basically at sea level to being at about 6,000 feet. It didn't take us long to get up to the Donner Lake area, but some of our hiking group were lagging behind, so instead of waiting for them at the parking area near the tunnels, we stopped at a comfy little restaurant bar to start in on the drinking part of the day and to use their restrooms. 

Fireball shots for Sarah and I.


Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain.

Inside was cozy.

There was money on the ceiling. Apparently locals and seasonal
workers leave it there with stuff written on it.

Irish coffee. 

Merry band of idiots about to leave a warm, comfortable bar to go hiking
in the mountains in the rain.

Perfect weather for hiking!! 
When we got to the entrance to the tunnel, it was pouring rain and the wind was kicking up a little. We all dashed as quickly as we could to the first bit of tunnel, but it became quickly apparent that the tunnels become a small creek when it rains. I was grateful we all had flashlights (and grateful to Sarah for saying, "Do you have one?" before we left and then handing me one of her extras when I said, "Uh-uh, should I?").

The first entrance. You can see the water flowing in.


The tunnels are heavily graffiti'd , which makes them interesting to look the parts where you can see.

Starting to doubt my own sanity.
 It was about this time that I realized I'd left my nice camera in the car (oops) and only had an iPhone with which to take pictures.

The light at the end of the tunnel. 

A short break between tunnels. 

Cali came along. He loved all the rain, but was one cold little
rubber ducky. 

Small waterfall

There's a couple of dudes up there.

Dark. This is where I was very happy to have that flashlight.


Yes, I'm worth hiking in cold rain. 

By this time, my Irish coffee had caught up to me, and I needed a bathroom. Thing is, there are no bathrooms in train tunnels, old or new. Sarah had brought toilet paper as a just-in-case measure, so I grabbed a wad of that, stationed Sarah as a guard on one side of a pillar off to the side of the tunnel, and...

Yes. I peed in a tunnel. I know I'm not the first, nor will I be the last.

(Between this and dying my hair purple, I hardly know myself.)

We stopped to eat and have some hot coffee. People had brought chairs (I didn't, and it was fine because standing and moving kept me warmer). Someone had brought candles, and another person a small music player, so we had a small party in a dark tunnel during a rainstorm.

I brought cheese, crackers, salami, and pickle bites. 

Sarah brought hot coffee and Kahlua, which was a WIN.

Winning with coffee.

We are not losers who bomb. 
In better weather, we'd have done the whole tunnel (about two-and-a-half miles), but it was just too cold and our feet were soaked through.

We stopped back at the same bar/restaurant on our way out, to warm up.  

I got home around 9:30, and wasted no time in peeling off everything and jumping into a hot shower. I was in there longer than a California-loving drought-watcher really ought to be, but damn, it felt amazing to warm up. 

So yes, we were idiots, but it was also great fun. I'd love to hike the tunnels again in better weather at some point, for sure. 

1 comment:

Mike Nolan said...

And don't forget the "joy" of finding out the fireplace in the bar was a fake fireplace that put out no heat at all. But it was relatively warm inside and certainly dry. And they had booze!