As I said in my last post, I woke up Tuesday morning (April 15th, 2014) in Cades Cove campground to pouring rain. This was not how I wanted to be spending my time in the Smokies. I took it easy leaving the Cove in the morning, catching up with a few more rangers and volunteers, before I hit the trails. I wanted nothing to do with the rain, but I also did not want to sit around all day. Therefore, I went hiking with an umbrella for the first time. I had read plenty about people hiking with an umbrella, but had never done it. Outdoor companies are even producing light-weight but rugged and functional umbrellas specifically for hiking and backpacking (such as Go-Lite). I personally, do not own a technical umbrella. I just have an old, probably quite heavy and excessively large golf umbrella that I keep in my car. For the first time, it came in handy for a hike.
There are many pros to hiking with an umbrella. The only con, as far as I can tell, is just having another piece of gear to carry and take care of. As others have written on the subject so eloquently, I’ll spare you my own thoughts. But I encourage you to read more here:
All I can say is, on this day in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where I experienced rain, sleet, and snow, the umbrella saved the day. I had my rain jacket and pants, but even when those get wet, it can be really unpleasant; not to mention sweating inside sticky sil-nylon and gore-tex. I just wanted to stay dry, period. My umbrella did the trick. I even figured out a way to strap it into my camera case on my backpack’s hip belt and into my chest strap so that I didn’t even have to carry it. This allowed both of my hands to be free to use trekking poles. Additionally, I used some rope, a trekking pole, the umbrella, and trail signs at a junction to create a mini shelter to eat under during lunch, keeping my hands free, and allowing me to get at my backpack while staying under the umbrella. Definitely appreciated. Hiking with an umbrella turned a what could have been a really cold, wet, and unpleasant day into a dry, enjoyable day. To me, that’s worth it. And I didn’t even get funny looks, and actually seemed to be the envy of the others on the trail that day.