Today I was hoping to take a trip to Shenandoah National Park for a day hike, and to try out my new boots. Unfortunately the weather forecast reported a 100% chance of rain, possibly turning to snow. Not the type of weather for spending time in the mountains. Instead, I revised my plans and went hiking on the Northside and Buttermilk trails in Richmond. I've cycled these a lot, but when its wet biking on the trails is too dangerous and damages the trail too much. I wasn't sure how far I would be able to get on foot, but reckoned that hiking couldn't be that much slower than mountain biking on technical terrain. I set off from the Texas beach parking lot and headed towards Tredegar St. Since the river was reasonably high I wanted to check out Hollywood Rapids up close, so continued over the footbridge to Belle Isle. Once I had gone that far, it seemed silly to retrace my steps, so I returned on the buttermilk trail to Boulevard Bridge and cut behind Maymont to get back to the truck.
It was raining when I left the house, so I donned full waterproofs. However the trails are mostly through wooded areas and the trees break up the rainfall enough that it is not depressingly drenching. My new boots fit me well, which gave me a sense of confidence of the slippery rocks covered in wet leaves and the wooden bridges that are lethally slick in the rain. By the time I was on the return leg my feet still felt warm and relatively dry. It really wasn't a bad day to be out for a walk, but I was apparently the only one who thought so. I had been on the trail for almost three hours and hadn't seen a single soul (except for a group of foolhardy Kayakers). While crossing Boulevard Bridge I did encounter a couple of joggers, but nobody else was out on the trails. Ironically, conditions on the bridge were the worst I encountered, as the rain was blowing down the river about 10 degrees from the horizontal and the wind was bitingly cold.
As I write this, the meteorologists have been proved correct. The rain has turned to snow. I doubt it'll settle, but I'm still happy I'm not out in it!