Optimistic on Osceola

Hot would be an understatement when describing the weather last week. With temperatures in the nineties almost every day, it was clear that summer had finally arrived. During the week, I had begun to settle into a summertime routine of getting up and exercising before it got too warm, and I had finally made peace with the fact the usually quiet rock gym would be turned into a playground by their summer camp for the next eight weeks. On a positive note, the early start of the rock gym’s camp meant that the air conditioning had been running for a few hours by the time they open to the public—offering a refreshingly cool place to climb.

It wasn’t only in my weekday life that I had begun making adjustments for the summer. The Friday before the Fourth of July, I headed to Rumney and the only extra layers I packed were a second wicking tee-shirt—in case I sweat through the first one—and a bathing suit for swimming in the river at the end of the day. That’s right, no windshirt, no raincoat, and not even a light puffy. Instead, I brought a small pack and used the extra space I had for an additional water bottle. On the Fourth of July, I headed to hike the Kinsmans and once again left the raincoat and puffy behind. I also brought along a hydration bladder for the first time in a long time to help stay hydrated in the hot, humid weather.

The stretch of warm and dry conditions had made me pretty cavalier about the weather, which is why I was positive I would be able to climb at Rumney this past Saturday despite the weather report predicting rain off-and-on all day. Blinded by the current weather trend, I packed all of my climbing stuff into my pack Friday night as the drizzle turned to rain. Saturday morning wasn’t much better, as the ground was soaked and it was still raining lightly. Somehow, the recent weather had turned me into an optimist, as I packed the car with my climbing stuff, sure that the weather would clear and the rock would dry by the time I arrived at Rumney.

Optimist or not, driving up north in the rain to climb without a backup plan would be foolish. Also, it would be spitting in the face of the climbing gods, and virtually ensuring a rainout. With that in mind, I grabbed my raincoat and a pair of trail runners on my way out the door, figuring I could hike if climbing didn’t work out. I remember thinking to myself that I should grab a pair of rain pants and a light puffy as well, but was either too lazy to run back and get them or too confident the weather would improve to be bothered.

As we continued to drive, the rain didn’t slow down and the temperature didn’t rise. It was clear that we would not be climbing, as well as ruling out any hiking that involved much terrain above treeline. As we debated about what hike to do, I began to get nervous (realize) that I was underprepared. With the memory of hot and sunny days fresh in my mind, I had only packed shorts and a few light layers, and certainly hadn’t thought to bring a hat or gloves. Furthermore, the steadiness of the rain had me regretting not running back in for my rain pants earlier in the morning. The temperature was hovering in the mid-fifties, and that was on I-93, not high up on an exposed mountain.

In the end, everything worked out fine. We hiked Mount Osceola and East Osceola and while it was cold at times, it was never unbearable—and the torrential rains held out until we were within a few minutes of the car. It’s ironic that I had recently been talking a lot with a friend about all the stuff that I feel like I carry all the time, but hardly ever use. All it took was a few weeks of nice weather to have me jettisoning all of that stuff from my pack to carry a little less. A critical element to moving fast in the mountains is to carry only what you need, but moving smartly in the mountains is realizing that mountain weather is fickle and ever changing, and knowledgeable people are prepared for those occurrences.