Jeff Ryan, Author & Speaker

We will weather this

In 1983, three of us were hunkered down in a tent so small that it barely contained us and our gear. Our sixteenth consecutive day of rain in the Oregon mountains had us at our worst. Our supplies and patience were thin. 

We’d been on the trail since we’d left the border with Mexico on April 1st. Now, in mid-July, we were confronting the winter of our discontent — day after day of walking over snow and making excruciatingly slow progress through mist and rain with no chance of ever getting our gear dry had our whole trip on the verge of collapse. I was the lone holdout. But, now I was finally prepared to let go.

“If it’s still raining tomorrow, I say let’s bail”, I said.

“Are you serious?”, Mick asked. He was so used to my resistance, that he had to be sure.


The next morning, we awoke and looked out the tent window. More fog and mist. As we started packing up and planning our escape route, no one took note of the fact the rain had stopped. We’d had enough false alarms to believe it was a short break between deluges.

But just as we shouldered our packs, a shaft of sunlight burst through the clouds and lit up our campsite in the snow. At first we though it was a cruel joke. It was actually a message of hope.

Over the next 32 days, it didn’t rain once. It was the best month of hiking any of us would ever have — enough to carry us all the way through Washington state and into Canada. And it wouldn’t have happened if we’d given up on the trip a moment sooner.

Whenever I’m in the middle of a storm that seems without end, I think back to that trip, knowing that the sun, will in fact reappear.

Jeffrey H Ryan is an author, adventurer, photographer and historian. He has written several books about his outdoor exploits, his fascination with hiking trails and the people and places found just off the beaten path. His debut book, Appalachian Odyssey: A 28-year hike on America's trail was hailed by the former Executive Editor of National Geographic as "a classic of nature and travel writing" and set off a national tour (in a 1985 VW camper, no less). His books are known for weaving a deep appreciation for history into walks across contemporary landscapes that give readers the feeling they are hiking right alongside. When Jeff isn't trekking, chasing down a great story or spinning yarns from his keyboard, he enjoys sharing his adventures with audiences who love the outdoors. He spends much of his time in his beloved native state of Maine.

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