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When it rains it pours in Alaska, especially on a Haines moose hunt

Heather Lende

I couldn't take many pictures, as two days of heavy rain fogged my lens, but I did get a few during breaks in the weather. It was even raining in the tent.

It's not that it leaked -- it was actually very dry and warm with Chip's little steel stove (he kept saying, "isn't this great?"). But what happened is that once the fire went out and we fell asleep, the condensation built up on the inside, and the rain beat down so hard on the outside that it knocked the tent walls making big drips every now and then as well as a continuous fine mist. It must be good for my skin, right?

All I could think of were the Klondike stampeders who lived for months like this in the mud and cold and rain with dried food and not nearly as good gear. They were so much tougher than I am.

I'm reading a novel, “The Death Instinct”, which takes place during and after World War I, and it's the same thing -- the cold, the mud, and always the hunger in cities and villages across war-torn Europe. Plus, they were getting shelled. We were just moose hunting. And it was fun, once you got past the rain.

When the forecast says "heavy at times" think raindrops as big as marbles sheeting straight down. The noise is still thrumming in my ears.

But we were dry, mostly --  thanks to Helly Hansen rain gear, wool, poly-pro, and hip boots. The stove helped dry things and we erected a big tarp over the camp that was a lifesaver.

If you want to re-create my two days in the tree stand, put your rain gear on, sit on a small rickety chair in the shower and turn the cold water on full. Then try to look through binoculars. The good news is you will see as many moose as we did on the rainiest of days.  

The best thing about moose hunting is the first walk in the woods at dawn, when anything is possible -- thrilling and a little scary. I feel safer in the tree stand, but so much more alive when I'm walking quietly through woods that smell moose-y and look moose-y and sound moose-y. I like the high alert feeling, when every sound and motion could be a moose. That's what keeps me going back.

Haines writer Heather Lende is finishing her third book of essays, “Finding the Good.” This post originally appeared on her blog. It has been reprinted with permission.