Friday, November 21, 2014

47. Drying Gear Out in the Sun

I recently put a gigantic photo album up on facebook of 400 photographs that Dumptruck took along the trail. After I put them up, and people started commenting on pictures, I was feeling like a pretty cool cat, and I decided to look back through the photos again to see what people were enjoying.

There was one photo that at first glance looked pretty cool. It was a shot of me walking away from the camera on some of the rickety log-boards of New Jersey, surrounded by lush green wilderness. The boardwalk curves around and off the left edge of the frame, leading the eye out and away. But if the viewer focuses back on me, on my backpack, the viewer will notice, stretched out across my pack to dry: a pair of neon green underpants.

I immediately took the photo down, and no I can't show you, because I blushed so hard that the photo vaporized straight out of existence.

Now, you might be curious: why would I be perfectly fine parading through the woods with a pair of rain-soaked, dirty underoos stretched out across my pack for all the world to see, but now I have become modest to a fault? I'll tell you! It's because when I lived in the woods and only saw 20 people per day, it didn't really matter who saw my skivvies, because every other hiker I passed had some indecent article of clothing hanging off their pack to dry. But when my neon green underwear becomes immortalized in the hallowed halls of the internet, where it will remain for all time, I get a teensy bit prudish.

Some days I'd get completely soaked. Observe:

But what was truly wonderful was when a day of rain was followed immediately by a day of sunshine. That's when everyone became mobile clothing lines. Soaked socks, tshirts and bandanas would swing merrily from every external strap on everyone's backpack. I'm sure we all smelled like a troop of dogs who'd gone swimming in the East River. Our clothing would slowly stiffen to salty planks on our packs, but it would be dry! And it sure was nice not to have to stuff soaking clothing into our packs, where it would be left to molder until the next trip into town.

It was particularly excellent if we also had time to lay out our tents to dry in the warm sun. Having to pack up a wet tent is unpleasant, but having to get into a damp tent again at the end of the day is even worse. 

Pro tip: 

If you have a down sleeping bag, you can use your body heat as a simple dryer. This only works for slightly damp or wet clothing, it won't work if you've been in a torrential downpour.

Wear your damp clothing to bed at night in your sleeping bag! It will be uncomfy at first, but as you sleep, your body heat will cause the moisture to travel away from your body, into the sleeping bag, to the outer layer of the sleeping bag, and then eventually out into the air to freedom! 

I was too put off by the tactile sensory input of wearing damp clothing to bed, so I never quite pulled this off with any level of expertise. However, I would always put the damp socks I'd worn during the day at the foot of my sleeping bag, and in the morning they were super dry! It was like a miracle, except it was science!

Yay science!

Clever Girl

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