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I’ve noticed lots of references to rain and rain gear here on the forum. Nevertheless, it might be helpful to share experiences that worked for you – or didn’t. To get the discussion going – some thoughts:
WET RUN – We’ve found it advisable to take a “dry run” before heading to IRNP; especially if we’ve added any new gear. But it’s also worthwhile to walk a mile & set up your tarp and tent in the rain before going to IRNP. After an ALL-DAY, HEAVY rain on the island, I met another visitor who said his brand-new Patagonia rain shell leaked badly. He added, “And they don’t give that stuff away!”
SEASONS – As expected, we’ve experienced more rain in the early season than later. On one trip, it rained for 5 days straight. Spring on the island can be magical, but it does pay to prepare with redundant dry clothes and rain protection during the rainy season.
FORECAST – There is an official IRNP forecast, but I’ve found it to be only a guide. And even though they give a seven-day forecast, it bears mentioning that the further out the forecast is, the less reliable it becomes.
PACK WATERPROOFING – I’ve found lining my pack with a plastic trash compactor bag to be the best way to keep things dry inside. I tried a pack cover, but it didn’t work as well for me.
TENTS – A quality tent does a pretty remarkable job of keeping things dry. But we’ve found it prudent to keep gear in plastic bags anyway.
SLEEPING BAG – It’s imperative to keep your sleeping bag dry. Long ago, we were advised to stuff our sleeping bag into a stuff sack, then into a plastic trash bag, then into a second stuff sack. It adds a few ounces but it’s never failed to keep our bags dry.
RAIN CLOTHING – We’ve tried ponchos, rain parkas & rain pants. Umbrellas & gaiters have never made the cut. It’s not always possible to stay completely dry, so our goal is to at least stay warm and have dry clothes and bedding when we arrive at camp. Of course, cotton is the pits and down needs to be kept dry.
TARP – A rain tarp can save a trip. I use a 5X7 for solo trips; up to 9X9 for a foursome.
DRYING WET CLOTHES – Until the sun comes out, we’ve found that it’s nearly impossible to dry wet gear. Although it can be unpleasant, we’ve found it preferable to wear damp clothes the next day rather than risk getting our dry camp clothes wet.
FIRE – Of course many IRNP campgrounds are stove only. A campfire, where allowed, can take the chill off of a cold, damp day. But I’ve found that a campfire makes a poor clothes dryer. So on IRNP, we seldom resort to starting a fire.
SHELTERS – Obviously, the shelters can be a godsend in the rain – especially heavy or prolonged rain. But be prepared for heavy, sideways rain that soaks everything within 2 ft of the screen in the shelter. Likewise, a leaky roof can soak your gear. Also, at times the rush to get a shelter can put a damper on a trip. Sometimes it’s better to relax, take your time and be prepared to stay in your tent or hammock.
OTHER SHELTER – Besides the campground shelters, there are other ways to get a break from the rain that are not widely advertised. I’m thinking of the picnic pavilions at Daisy Farm & Belle Isle; the auditorium & visitor centers at RH & Windigo; the ranger stations at Malone Bay and Amygdaloid; the Rock Harbor light house; Rock Harbor lodge, restaurant & snack bar, ... Some would include the privies, but we’ve yet to be that desperate.
PACKING – Pack so that your rain gear, tarp & tent are readily accessible without getting other gear wet.
SETUP / TAKEDOWN – Friends were packing to leave a campsite with their gear spread out when a cloudburst suddenly hit; soaking all their gear. Fortunately, they snagged a seat on the Voyager to get back to RH. We’ve found it best to make the rain tarp first up; last down.
WET BRUSH – I remember getting soaked on a sunny day from the dew on the brush on Feldtman Ridge.
ATTITUDE – Rain happens. With proper planning and a positive attitude, rain can be a relaxing and enjoyable experience.
ATGATT – Motorcyclists recognize that accidents can happen even on a short ride to the corner store. So they stress “All The (protective) Gear All The Time”. On a calm evening without a cloud in the sky, we once rented a canoe & paddled out to Raspberry Island. While on the island, a severe cloudburst suddenly hit. We were very glad we had all our rain gear and some snacks to relax and wait it out. We take the “10 Essentials” whenever we leave camp.
SO, WHAT WORKS FOR YOU, OR DIDN’T ??
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Places I've sheltered from cloudbursts include Susy's Cave, and underneath the tower at the Ishpeming trail junction. It is obvious people have camped there too even though it's not an allowed site.
I often wear my raingear in early morning to avoid getting totally soaked from the wet underbrush. I also carry in my pocket a thin plastic folding "emergency poncho" as back-up to more sturdy raingear for dayhikes or short excursions from camp. Only time I've ever used it was in Soldier Field in Chicago when the wind off the lake plus a misting rain left it extremely chilly in the upper bleachers!
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That rain tarp can go a long way towards solving the sideways rain and leaking roof problems in the shelters too.
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Also good to have extra cord, as the tarp was still flopping with all those lines across it.