the north island report: about that rain

The first few days after we arrived in Port Hardy, the weather was beautiful for late November. It was overcast, occasionally sunny, but around 8-10 C, with very little rain. Through December, it's been raining off and on -- mostly on.

Occasionally it's cold enough for freezing rain or light snow, but that will be brief bursts. Mostly it's been around +3 to +8 (high 30s to mid-40s F), cloudy or raining. Since moving here, I've yet to put on a winter jacket. I've been wearing a fall-weight jacket, or else a rain jacket that's just a shell (my new find from L.L. Bean).

So for winter, it's warm and it's wet.

Here's the thing. Wet weather has always made me feel bad physically. Yep, that's the dirty little secret I didn't want to talk about before we moved. In the back of my mind, I was concerned about potential fibro/arthritis flare-ups. But... nothing. I've been completely fine.

I don't have an explanation for this! I do have a theory. Could it be that what was difficult for me wasn't the rain itself, but rather the barometric pressure change? And that in a climate with a lot of rain, the pressure is more consistent?

Sadly, there's no sign that I no longer have these conditions or that they're improving. So this air pressure theory is all I can come up with. I'm sure some readers will weigh in.

And here's the other thing.

Several people have advised and suggested that the rain shouldn't stop us from walking or hiking, as long as we're dressed for it. I now have a good rain jacket -- the first I've ever owned. And after discovering my hiking boots are no longer waterproof -- in fact they now immediately result in wet feet -- I found two different pairs of waterproof boots, which I'm very happy about. (No link because the boots are getting their own post!)

I've seen many colleagues come to work wearing a rain jacket and rain pants, and quickly slide them off and continue on their day. I don't have rain pants yet, and I'm not sure I can find ones that fit my size and shape, but I'm going to look into it. They do seem like a very good idea.

However... you can suit up for the rain and stay dry -- but it's still raining, and being outside is still unpleasant. I have a friend who is an all-weather walker. She lives in southern Ontario and she walks for an hour every day, no matter what the weather. I would very much like to do this, especially here where I usually won't have to deal with snow and icy sidewalks, or incredibly hot and humid weather, both being prohibitive to me. But walking in the rain for a sustained period of time seems very unpleasant.

There is a recreation centre in town, with a pool. I could return to swimming, which I did avidly for 20 years, until I started graduate school in 2009. But there are other issues with that, and I'd much rather be outdoors. I'd like to learn a new attitude about walking in the rain, but I'm not sure that's realistic.


Amy said...

Glad so far you are feeling good. Does the rain last all winter? Or is it sporadic as rain is, for example, in the East? Maybe with rain pants and the right boots and hat and coat, walking in the rain won't be as unpleasant. I hope so!

drf said...

Hey...it's called the Wet Coast for a reason! Still, the summers are extremely dry, and for the last few years very smokey. By October you will be welcoming the return of rain?
From a very, very windy Vancouver,

laura k said...

As far as I know, it rains all winter, with scattered days of not-rain here and there.

Vancouver Island has two distinct climates -- the south and east coast that faces the mainland, and the north and west coast that is on the Pacific Ocean. In the south and east, summers are hot and dry. But the north and west are a rainforest, and right now we're in the rainiest season (I believe). Wikipedia:

A notable feature of Vancouver Island is the extension of summer dryness to latitudes as high as 50°N. Only in the extreme north of the island near Port Hardy is the rainfall of the driest summer month as much as one fifth that of the wettest months from November to March. West coasts of other continents at similar latitudes have a practically even distribution of rainfall through the year.

Mound of Sound or Jay F might tell us more.

laura k said...

Still, the summers are extremely dry

Not in Port Hardy. :)

Jay Farquharson said...


What is it that you find uncomfortable about walking in the rain?

With good rain gear, and layering, you should be immune to the physical effects of the rain.

Is it the sound? The impact on the view and sound from the hood? How one has to adjust the path for puddles? Something else?

In light rain, I wear a waterproof baseball cap, so I can feel the rain. When it’s medium, a wide brimmed waterproof hat. When it get’s heavy, hood up over the baseball cap to cover the face and keep the hood from slipping down.

For rainpants, gortex pants from MEC with built in gaiters, zippers on the sides with velcro, elastic waist.

Wind and rain make their own ever changing music. Over here, one can often see the rain coming from miles off, ripping across the sky and falling in sheets to the ground. Often one is still standing in bright sunshine when the rain is falling. Sometimes if starts off in a gentle fall, building to a massive drumming cresendo, then hail, then back to nothing. Sometimes, when the wind is up, it comes in sideways. Watching it can be very “centering”, as much as watching a deer graze, an eagle fly, a hawk “surf” the updrafts.

It’s effects on land and water can be as interesting to observe. Trees bending from the water, how dry spots on the ground and bark are created, how the colours of tree, rock, ground change. Rivulets and streams filling and flowing, small minature rapids and waterfalls forming where there was dry ditch. Watching how it forms ringlets on the lake or ocean surface, or watching sheets of raindrops change the surface of the water, offen pushed by the wind. Noticing how the rain falls unevenly, pools and gathers unevenly, and how little things, like where the moss, or Solomon’s Seal, or Oosier Dogwood grow, are all shaped by water.

Rain often offers the opportunity to see wildlife and wildlife behaviours you wouldn’t normally see, if you look. It can be as simple as rescuing earthworms from puddles before they drown, watching a bee drink from a stilled raindrop, frogs and salamanders, normally sheltering in moist cover during the day, becoming active in daylight. Noticing which ducks and seabirds prefer sheltering on the beach, or driftwood, or docks rather than staying in the water, watching a disgrundled owl, out in the low light of the day, seeking shelter under the boughs of a cedar and irritable shakeing off like a Golden Retriever. Peering into a stream and watching the fish, because with the rain breaking the diffraction effect, for the time, you can see them, long before they see you, quite the turnabout.

I hope this helps.

laura k said...

That sounds lovely, Jay.

I have trouble articulating what makes being out in the rain unpleasant for me. It's hard to see, for one thing. My glasses get wet, and I end up walking with my head down.

I enjoy being outside when it's snowing, as long as it's not icy. But rain... it's just gross.

Dogs also love the snow and hate the rain, so walking in the rain means leaving the pup at home.

Jay Farquharson said...

Brimmed hats, from baseball hats to Australian Slouches help keep rain off the glasses, and a chunk of “shamwow” type cloth in an inside pocket can clean off any fogging or raindrops.

Other than two gortex jackets, ( MEC Tiaga and a Pategonia one), I’ve never found a rainjacket that allows you to hold your head up in heavy rain or snow. The one thing the two jackets have in common is a stiff brim that projects forward of the forehead. The Patagonia one was made for climbing, so you could look upwards as much as 45 degrees with out getting a face full of water. When that one wore out, ( mountaineering and rock climbing on the Coast), I replaced it with an MEC one with not as great a brim, and a long brim baseball hat sprayed down with 3M Weatherproofing. Worked great for sailing and paddling in the winter as well.

Being a Wet Coaster from 15 years old to 50, rain never bothered me, and of course, the dogs needed a walk/run every morning, one after work, and one after dinner. Dogs are very emotionally sensitive animals. If the rain bothers you, they will know it and as pack animals will respond to the Pack Leader. All my dogs through out time, loved the rain. Puddles to drink from everywhere, mud, glorious mud, and of course, the rain washes away all the old smells, so everything they sniff is fresh, new, bold, vibrant, not masked by days or weeks of older scents or scent trails.

After Casey had her two TPLO surgeries however, she became sensitive in her hind legs to the cold. Engineered chunks of embedded stainless steel will do that. So, on the Coast, she had two rainjackets that covered her back and legs, just past the knees, with an open chest and belly so she could cool off. A plain goretex one for summer, a fleece lined goretex one for winter. Digger was never bothered. When we moved over here, she got a snowsuit and booties as well.

One of the first home reno’s I have always done, since my first home, is instal a hot water outdoor dog shower and a dry outdoor closet for dog towels, to go with the rubbermaid full of more dogtowels in the trucks.

I hope this helps.

laura k said...

With respect Jay, my dogs haven't hated rain because I dislike it. They hated rain. It's true that dogs are sensitive to our emotions, but they are also individuals with their own likes and dislikes. In my experience, most dogs do not like their coats becoming sodden.

I've been walking dogs in all weather, beginning in 1987, and continuing every day since then. My dogs have always been urban or suburban, so perhaps their experience walking in wet weather on sidewalks has been different than the joyous puddle-jumping you describe.

Unfortunately, we can't give other people our likes and dislikes. I love cold weather, love to bundle up and walk in the biting cold. I hate hot weather; all I want to do is stay inside in air-conditioning. Naturally I have friends who feel exactly the opposite. I could write a love letter to the cold, but they are never going to enjoy it. They can tell me how 25C is not even warm, but I'm done in.

I'll definitely look into rain pants, and I'm already enjoying my new rain jacket and boots. Hopefully these things will help me get daily outdoor exercise. But that's the most I can hope for.

Jay Farquharson said...

Here, we get the heat, 38, the cold, -35, the rain, sideways and road flooding, and the wind, ( gusts to 140 kmh tonight). Watched some trees splinter and blow over, so chainsaw in the truck the next few days.

None of my dogs, ( Lab X, Golden, Rottie/Lab/Shepard, Pit/Border, Belgian/Border) ever minded being sodden. Part of it is you can’t walk a dog 3 times a day in YVR, or take them on hike or to the dog park in the spring/winter/fall in the YVR with out them spending most of the time being sodden.

After a hot shower by the back lawn, Casey and Digger would go all “zoomie”, Digger so much you could barely towel him off, he’s be so wiggly. Constantly towelling his nose and bridge would slow his wiggles down and he would grunt with pleasure.

Growing up in the Maritimes with Labs and Lab X’s, wet dog became my favorite smell in the world.

And on the Wet Coast, it sure beat what can happen after spawning season. I’ve only had two dogs that never rolled in dead salmon. Sugar, who was my fishing partner for 12 years, who was only interested in live fish, and Casey, who had some Princess properties, like her dog bed, pillow and blankie had to be perfect.

Hopefully, all of you will adapt well. Make special effort to enjoy every fall/winter/spring day with sunshine as much as you can. Most people who move to the Wet Coast from other parts of BC and the world, find themselves ground down by the grey. It’s the one part of the Wet Coast I don’t miss at all.

Take care,

Dusty said...

I found out today that vegan Nanaimo bars are called Tofino bars.

This amuses me.

laura k said...

That's hilarious!