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just back from a week in kosovo, not for hiking. but, i walk to stay in shape & see what different places look like. yesterday, despondent of another day in a windowless gym on a machine and faced with a few hours of free time in the afternoon/evening, i figured a walk in a light rain wouldn't be bad. i was staying on the outskirts of Pristina, the capital. my choices were to hop a fence and walk through the farmland behind the hotel, or to walk along an access road that parallels a limited access highway. i have now dubbed the access road 'apocalypse avenue' because it is one of the more depressing scenes i can recall walking along. the access road fronts a series of concrete structures that are in many cases empty or half-built; vacant lots full of debris; yards filled with broken down vehicles; and some modern buildings that appear to be empty. it could be a movie set for a post-socialist (or post-nuclear war) thriller.
i chose apocalypse alley because hopping fences in recently war-torn countries is, in my opinion, a bad idea. that turned out to be wise, because the strips of land adjacent to the road, a combination of broken concrete and mud, proved to have a very thick, sticky consistency - clinging to the soles of my trail shoes in huge, wet clumps, like clay. i suspect the farmland would, given the weather, have turned into ankle-deep, shoe-sucking mud.
the 'light rain' morphed into a wind-driven thunderstorm, and the temperature dropped to about 40-45 degrees. Kosovo, in the vicinity of Pristina, is pretty much a flat plain, nothing to stop the wind. the wind picked up to about 40 mph, the rain started hammering down, and the lightning strikes, by my count, were within a mile or so of my route.
i got a good 90 minute walk in. no rain pants, unfortunately. my trail shoes, not gore tex, made spongy noises by the time i was done, they were so wet, and were caked with debris; my wool socks were sodden and filthy, shorts drenched from mid-thigh down. i wore a waterproof hard shell, wild things eVent shell, that kept me fully dry and kept the moisture to a minimum. (memo to file - i need to buy some wash-in dwr, because the rain wasn't exactly beading on the surface). i was warm enough, wicking baselayer and a Jos. A Bank thin lambswool sweater, deployed in a manner not contemplated in their catalogue - or by me, until i realized the temperature was dropping so quickly. had a hat, thankfully. the cold and wind were making my quads cramp by the time i was done, the last 45 minutes having walking straight into the teeth of the wind.
this post doesn't really have a point, except to say that bad weather can pop up anywhere and can pose a legitimate challenge, even in what appears to be a fairly urban environment.