Too Much Rain? See Here…
So the rain here in the NW has been legendary. Literally. With the wettest year on record since record keeping began in 1940, 2017 has seen 146 days of rain and there seems no end in sight. In fact, many folks (including me) are worried that our summer may be just more of the same. Well, rain or shine, life marches on…yet we don’t have to despair; there are indeed ways to stay active, have fun and to enjoy nature, even without the beautiful sun.
Surely you can don a raincoat and march forth in spite of the near constant deluge we’re seeing. However, sometimes the rain itself opens up opportunities otherwise not seen. Just maybe we can turn these lemons into lemonade?? Today I’m featuring (6) random activities that take some advantage from these heavy rains and cold snaps. Perhaps one or more will spark your interest and you’ll get some nice, outside benefit! Good luck ;).
Nobody in the Surf, Rip Away!
I fancy myself an “Oregon surfer.” Having plied the waves here in this great state since 1979 (yep, I’m that old), I’m here to tell you that if you’re living here in the valley, working, etc., you often don’t get down to the coast except on the weekends. And on the weekends, the good surf spots are often packed. If conditions are really good, well, people pour down to the beach in droves and clashes with locals are not uncommon. The stories I could tell about run-ins with locals that seem to forget the ocean is for everyone, well, a heavy crowd seems to make people crazy. Nevertheless, surfing is SO incredible, especially in good surf, some hassle is almost always worth it. That said, some of the VERY best surf days happen in light rain. While true that rainy, murky water can increase the chance of a shark encounter, the probability of that is so infinitesimal that it hardly bares mentioning. So, dreary at the beach, yet nice swell, low wind, and basically zero crowd? That makes for an epic adventure where you and your small crew can have it nearly all to yourself. Why? Valley folks won’t make the drive (usually) and the locals, well, they get to cherry pick the blue bird days because, well, they live there.
Choice Tee Times and Exclusive Play
O.K. Golfing in the rain can be a bit rough. However, most of the rain we are seeing these days is showery…pumping down one minute, sun breaks at the next. So, grab an umbrella, or a covered golf cart, and play during the in-betweens. The upside here is that tee times are open…sometime across the board…and nobody is breathing heat on you from behind. Take your time. Hit an extra ball (or two)…get your money’s worth! The golf club will just be happy that you are there. Sure you won’t get much extra roll in the soggy conditions, but you will still be out playing golf at the pace you prefer with all kinds of options to get in extra practice. On this…I had a day two weeks back that was quite literally abysmal out, yet I had a personal opening and golf seemed like the ticket. After all, we are northwesterners, we forge on! Well, I was able to rally a cousin of mine and boy did we have a great round. One tip: make sure you have waterproof shoes! And if you want some great advice on how to be even more effective in the wet stuff, check this link on Global Golf’s website.
Ape Caves Anyone?
With hiking a favorite pastime of mine this rain has been a real bummer. That said, there are some options out there that are legit and won’t soak you. From heavily-forested trails, such as the >>>>>, to my favorite, the Ape Caves on Mt. St. Helens, you can indeed get out and pound the ground. Focusing on the latter spot, the Ape Caves, this subterranean adventure will provide the chance to stay dry and relatively warm, no matter what the weather or time of year. Oddly, the cave, which is found on the south flank of Mt. St. Helens (link here), maintains a relatively steady temp of about 55 degrees fairenheit and stays bone dry. About mid-way through there is an opening to the sky, and the area below gets a bit wet…but other than that it’s just you, your flashlight (bring backups!!) and your grit. With legends telling that this is a favorite haunt of Sasquatch, well, it can be a bit creepy. At 1.2 miles long, and pitch black inside, this little trip will raise the hackle on your neck. That said, I’ve hiked the Ape Cave five different times.
For an extra adventure around the Ape Caves, Nearby “Ape Canyon” is where a famously reported battle between miners and a family of Bigfoot (or is it Bigfeet when speaking plural?) back in 1924. The incident has become a legend in the NW – here is the bigfoot story from one of the miners that was reportedly there. Watch out!
A Great, Rainy Portland Hike
While on the subject of great hikes in the rain, here is a gem right here in Portland: Macleay Trail to the Audobon Society and/or The Pittock Mansion. These Forest Park options are fantastic in the rain due to strong forest canopy overhead. Even in a big dump you can quickly find a solid tree to duck under, yet most of the time you won’t feel a drip. Getting there is pretty easy. Down below the Thurman Street Bridge is a park called Lower Macleay. From that location, find a paved trail that heads into Forest Park and later connects with the Wildwood Trail. Thus, this hike is really several possible hikes in the area. In any case, once at the Wildwood Trail I suggest sticking with the Wildwood Trail and going up to Balch Creek. You will climb a bit going this way and then, about 1.1 miles later, you’ll pop out at Cornell Road and the Audobon Society. You can cross Cornell Road here and hike another 1.25 miles (climbing gently) to reach the Pittock Mansion. On days when the mansion is open for tours, well, it’s quite dry inside as well! Great views of PDX abound from up here.
Yep, so with all this colder-than-usual, wet weather comes an extended winter in the cascades. This all adds up to more fresh snow and more fresh tracks to be laid. Whether your a skier, boarder or snowshoeing is your thing, extra white stuff this late in the year deserves to be taken advantage of. To deal with the possible depression of too much cloud cover and rain, just tell yourself it’s still winter and head for the hill. Even as I write this the freezing level today is at 3500 feet and the forecast is looking great. Going to have to wax up and head east myself.
So the Oregon Zoo seems like the last place you might want to go when it’s raining. However, I’m here to say, having done just that the other day with my two kids, it’s actually a great time. Why? No crowd and many of the animals are lively. Something about the weather gets some animals moving, especially the monkeys. Further, the zoo has many different covered areas that you can dash around to or duck into when it’s raining. Specifically designed for our NW conditions, the zoo is a great spot to take advantage of when you want a more personal zoo experience and all the space at the railing you could ask for. Truly, my last visit to the zoo, in the rain, was better for animal viewing than any sunny day I’ve been on. Fantastic!
A Wet Roundup
So there’s a few different options for getting outside and playing “in the rain” that won’t get you totally soaked and actually bring some advantages. Of course, I am praying for sun as much as the next person as nothing really beats el Sol. But don’t let our unusually wet conditions stop you or get you down. Find your opening and get out there!
Header Image Courtesy: Koin.com