The clouds before they got really ominous.
I headed out for a hike (I promised myself I wouldn’t run, I’m being good since my stress fracture is being good too), hitting the trail shortly before noon. I had planned to be out for three or four hours, but the weather changed my plans for me.
Hiking out (about an hour), it was sun and blue skies, with the slightest of breezes. Some clouds floated around the mountains south of where I was, but they didn’t worry me; in fact, a biker and I agreed that the storm was looking like it would pass right by us. Happy, I hiked on.
I began part of the trail that summits a peak (nothing crazy, but exposed). About a quarter of a mile up was a nice view spot, so I took a break and walked up to that before getting too high and exposed. I noticed that there were a lot more clouds now, and some of them were looking ominous… and I’d been hearing a few rumbles, but nothing that had me concerned in the least. I watched the clouds for a couple minutes: watched them darken and begin to broil, really move and twist, and then I realized they weren’t moving away from me, but toward me. Great. Still, they looked cool and maybe I could just wait it out and carry on –
You know that thunder, the slow ripping kind that takes forever and shakes the ground? There was one of those guys, and it sounded like it was pretty much above me. At that moment, I did what I probably should have done a couple minutes back: call it a day and begin hightailing it back to the car. Now, I still wasn’t too worried; I’d be headed pretty much downhill from where I was, meaning more tree shelter and lower chance of getting struck by lightning. I started out hiking, since I didn’t want to endanger my possibly-recovering stress fracture, but before I’d gone for thirty seconds the thunder really started going, and that started me going. I managed a heel strike for the whole way down (it took about 25 minutes) to spare my shin, but my knees killed for a while. But anyway, back to the trail.
I started running pretty damn quickly and not soon after, I started feeling giant freezing raindrops splat all over me. These quickly turned into not insignificantly-sized hail which, as you may imagine, were not so pleasant to run through. I was pretty much sprinting downhill at this point, with the wind picking up, the hail falling harder, and the thunder pretty much constant. Luckily, the vast majority of the lightning was cloud-to-cloud rather than cloud-to-ground… until it wasn’t. Then, of course, it was right behind me. And that’s not me being dramatic for a good story. You know when lightning strikes about 100m behind you. I let out a shriek, no shame, and absolutely pounded my way to the parking lot from there, maybe five minutes. Both my shoes were untied, I was freezing, I’d lost feeling in the lower half of both my arms, and the trail was flooding almost as fast as I was running down it. I tried to avoid running through the red muddy water since it’s such a good conductor.
Apparently when I picked up my phone after it fell out of my vest pocket, it took this picture. Glamorous, no?
I finally made it back to the parking lot, where I immediately stripped off my soaked and freezing tank and threw on a sweatshirt I luckily had in the car, covered up with a blanket, and cranked up the heat. So, moral of the story: if you’re standing halfway up a mountain gawking at dark, menacing bunches of swirling clouds, don’t be an idiot and debate whether or not they’ll come your way and take pictures, like I did. Just go back and go run some more once it’s not going to hail on you.
peace love and getting of mountains in time!
PS. I’m working on my trip report, but it’s taking a while… since I do have a month to cover. But yep, my stress fracture seems to be tentatively okay-ish, so I’m slowly adding some running into hiking and that sort of thing.
PPS. Another moral of the story: keep your phone in a zipped, waterproof or -resistant pocket. My iPhone fell out once and it was soaked because it was just in a mesh pocket, so now the speakers don’t work, and neither do the volume buttons… making it useless as a phone. That’s what I get for bringing a phone with me to be safe.