by Greg Whittaker
This morning at 5:30am, I was awoken by the sound of big fat NW atmosphere colliding with my roof. Many people may feel sorry for their “ruined plans”, but I got news for you, this is how it’s supposed to be in the Pacific Northwest. I was stoked to hear the rain, knowing that the watershed was filling up, the hummingbirds are getting a much-needed drink, and the Evergreen State is again turning green.
The last two summers have been an anomaly of sun worshipper proportions. Yes it has kicked ass having 6 – 7 months of dry hot weather when we are on the West Side of the cascades with access to Puget Sound to cool us down, however a return to wetter summers is why a lot of us live here. I for one could not survive 98 degrees with 99% humidity, and choose to live in Western Washington for the ability to wear my NW layers which keep me comfortable no matter what the weather. Yes people, the Seattle cliché of sandals and socks came from necessity, not style. Just make sure they are wool socks or you will be hating your nasty cotton covered athletic sock feet.
What we have here is a Pacific Maritime Climate. 1000 foot cloud ceilings of grey during the summer months have evolved our unique flora and fauna of the region. Cedars, a wetland species; salmon, dig fresh rain so they can sniff out their home waters and begin the migration to spawn.
So you newly arrived multitude of wary atospherians, it’s easy to survive and thrive if you know what’s up. It comes down to one thing, bring layers. Back in the day, oh say the 70’s, there were 2 options, nylon and wool. Nowadays, thanks in part to local companies, some of the most technical fabrics known to man and previously only seen on Star Trek exist. Thin, synthetic layers will keep you cool when it’s hot and can easily be stuffed in a drybag (yes get one). When the weather changes, and it will, you can bust out the thin fleece and shell with a hood and go onward on your adventure and not freeze your hiney off. Use a local independent outdoor gear shop and ask the knowledgeable outdoors professional what they recommend.
For those of you growing your own in the outdoor environment, this may present a problem, as cannabis is a dry climate plant. Cover your weed and harvest early if it comes in a vengeance. But hey, you can always buy recreationally, and use this opportunity to fill up your rain barrels.
So what’s the purpose of this message? To get you outside year-round. Search out a local and go bag a peak, cross a Puget Sound crossing, and go no matter the weather. This connection to nature will help you respect where you are from so we can protect and preserve some of what’s left while we focus on high-density development to pack in the inevitable crowds that are migrating here.
If you are still bitchy about the weather and are stuck in a funk, image me holding my hand out with my pointer finger and thumb lightly rubbing the worlds smallest violin to your apathy and try to get over your first world problems. Get layers and go outside, it’s why we live here.
Greg Whittaker is a transplant to the NW from being an Air Force Brat arriving in ’78. Owner of Mountain to Sound Outfitters and Alki Kayak Tours he encourages you to shop LOCAL INDEPENDENT OUTDOOR SHOPS, which REI used to be, but is no longer.