Soaking in New Ideas

Soaking in New Ideas

Anyone who lives in the Four Corners region knows we’ve all signed up to inhabit an arid zone. Climate change or no, it’s dry. Scientifically, our situation is classified as “extreme drought”.

It’s common around here to pray for snow, hope for a drenching monsoon and frequently discuss weather patterns. But when the glorious pitter patter of rain actually arrives, how many of us run outside and splish-splash in the wetness?

In September, the Adventure Education Department’s “Block” program (three courses taught concurrently) headed out on a rainy nine-day expedition in the Weminuche Wilderness. The trip was bookended by soggy weather; on the front end, we waltzed up the Vallecito drainage in two days of gentle drizzle and, on the backside, we hiked out during 36 hours of flash-flood warnings, blinding deluges, and overall sogginess.

Our time behind the rainy curtain provided insight into the subtleties of a Southwest soaking. As the rain came down, we were able to identify a few distinct moods:

  • A Haiku Drizzle: The inspiration of poets, this rain falls gently, straight down, with a misty, mystical feel. Creative visions and thoughts of cozy hot coco fireside hangouts drift in on the drops. The Haiku Drizzle is the calmest and most welcome of rains, though it still eventually leaves us waterlogged.
  • Rain Gear no Rain Gear (see also Haikai no Renga): A constant, deep soaking, this rain makes us wonder why bother spending hundreds of dollars on waterproof, breathable rain gear. The industry term “wetting out,” meaning rain no longer beads up on the outside of one’s flashy jacket, doesn’t quite capture the experience of being a total swamp monster both inside and out while still wearing fancy, “waterproof” attire.
  • Indeterminate Moisture: You know how this goes: Is it raining? Is it not? Should I put my raingear on? Oh, it’s starting, wait, is it over? Now it’s staring again…. Rain gear goes on, rain turns off. This one is hard to deal with and, as mentioned above, usually results in being soaked no matter what.
  • I Can See Clearly Now the Rain Has Gone: Like any period of adversity, when we immerse ourselves in a challenge, face it full on, run it all the way through and see where we end up, all of the various types of rain we walked through taught us that, like all things in life, this too shall pass.

In Adventure Education, we explore both inner and outer landscapes in pursuit of being excellent leaders and educators. For the Fall Block program this year, we examined this topic in our local outdoor classrooms including a variety of wet and not-so-wet conditions. We all have the opportunity to consider what “rain” in our lives looks like. It’s up to us to learn what we can from the experience.


Eli Shostak on a mountainEli is a Lecturer of Adventure Education at FLC with expertise in mindful leadership, expedition planning and leadership, and tons of experience leading others in finding the personal and interpersonal benefits of exploring wild spaces.