A Sunday walk in the pouring rain…waterproof jacket or poncho?

Our walk started out all right with cloudy skies and light winds and just a few veils of showers coming over the west hills in Portland. It was a Sunday walk just to get outside and enjoy some fresh air. Everything we had on we wore on the Camino. Today it was waterproof jackets and pants. No ponchos. Off we went down past Fort Vancouver, across the land bridge that leads you to a walking path along the Columbia River where we turned east. The first 8K was fine and our pace was steady and brisk. We were really enjoying ourselves. At Tidewater Cove, where we doubled back, I could see heavier showers approaching. No worries lets see how all this gear holds up. It was shortly thereafter when the first drops greeted us and the trees started moving to the rhythm of the gusting winds. We shortly were being pelted by driving rain and much stronger winds. Sheets of water ran off our jackets and pants down over our boots. The older trees were shedding smaller limbs. We were effectively underwater. We actually never had any rain like this on the Camino so I thought this will be a perfect test. We slogged on towards home doing constant mental body scans seeking out possible wet spots beneath the hard shell, soft shell, Gore tex, and whatever. I got the first hit. Left foot upper part definitely damp. These were the same brand and model boots I wore successfully on the Camino but not the same pair (that pair presented no problems fording streams in Spain). These will go back to REI next week. Then I noticed a dampness running down my right arm, below the elbow. This was then followed by dampness in the front of my pants. Robin fared much better and arrived home without much complaint in her hard shell outfit. My soft shell jacket and pants were advertised as waterproof, but I guess one could add, up to a point. Today’s weather must have moved just beyond that point. We finished our walk. Had a wonderful day of it and learned something valuable. Even the best gear can leak so it is still wise to carry a poncho (for us it’s the Altus). You will never know when you might need it, and it covers your pack as well. Our “swim” home was followed by a couple of  cold Believer Double Red Ales (from Ninkasi Brewery) in front of the fireplace. As we sat warming and drying ourselves by the fire, and enjoying our well deserved ale, I must admit my thoughts drifted far from home, to some rural part of northern Spain, where Robin and I were still inching westward.

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