Creating our own nice weather

  • Friday, September 25, 2015 1:08am
  • Sports

It doesn’t rain every day in Juneau, but when we get into weather like we’ve had lately, it sure begins to seem like it does. Even the “nice” days this time of year generally consist of 23 hours of light drizzle followed by one hour of small “sucker holes”.

The good thing is that once you adapt to this climate, you really do start to believe that these are in fact nice days. Weather that would be considered horrible in most other climates comes to be thought of as a nice day. Out of necessity we learn to take a cup half-full approach, even when it’s raining steady enough to literally fill that cup half way in a few hours.

As an avid runner, or any outdoor enthusiast, it can be pretty hard to cope with these wettest times of year here in Juneau. It can be especially daunting if you live in a house — like I do — up on a hillside, with large windows leading to a wide sweeping view. This is great when it’s sunny and you are dreaming up adventures you will soon take into the spread of mountains you can see in the distance, but when it’s socked in and raining, and you can’t see anything in the distance, only a panorama or rain drops in the foreground, this can be a really hard time to get out the door to go for a run.

It becomes so easy on these wet days to daydream while drinking your morning cup of coffee about all the things you can accomplish indoors that day. Maybe this is the perfect day to catch up on your two years of backlogged New Yorker Magazine articles. That dining table you’ve been telling yourself you are going to build out of scrap lumber — what better day than today? You’ve lived in Juneau nearly a decade and have never been to the City Museum. Looking out the window again, the museum certainly sounds like a better option than going for yet another run in the rain.

Then I remember that I could simply go to the gym and run on a treadmill. This is when I finally snap out of it and remember that the rain is never really falling as hard as it looks from the front window. I lace up the shoes and somewhat reluctantly head out the door.

It’s definitely raining. It has definitely been raining for the better part of the past month. For that matter it’s been raining for the better part of the past decade.

Gradually, as I run though, I realize that it really isn’t raining that hard, that it really doesn’t generally rain that hard in Juneau. I get into the forest heading up the Mount Roberts Trail and the tree cover is enough to block the rain completely.

Within minutes I realize I am over-heating. I laugh at the irony of having just spent two hours indoors procrastinating going out in the rain for a run, certain the wetness will lead to being cold and uncomfortable, and within 15 minutes up the trail I am feeling warmer than I have all day.

As my run unfolds I completely forget that it is raining, or that it really ever rains in Juneau. Another wet, drizzly, cool day is becoming nicer and nicer the further I run.

I return home an hour later completely renewed and excited for the day. I check the tide tables thinking that maybe I’ll go out to Sheep Creek and try to catch a couple Coho for the freezer, or maybe I’ll see if any friends want to gather in the evening for a North Douglas beach dinner. Anything to get some more outside time on this now surprisingly “nice” day.

After a quick shower though, I glance out the window and notice that it is looking rather rainy and gloomy once again. I guess it’s time to start digging that scrap lumber out of the garage and get cracking on that table. First though I’ll just read a couple magazine articles in hopes that the rain lets up a bit so I don’t get wet going outside to get to the garage.

Several hours later and I’ve finally got the lumber organized, ready to see if I have any chance of actually building my own table, when my phone begins to buzz with text messages. One reads: “It’s getting sunny. Want to head out to the beach for dinner”? Another says: “Care to soak up some sun and drink a couple beers at False Outer in an hour”?

I glance out the window and notice a few tiny “sucker holes,” each about the size of a Subaru. The rain has even diminished to the most gentle of drizzles. I check the hourly forecast and notice that the chance of precipitation has dropped from 90 percent to 60 percent for the rest of the evening.

It’s going to be a perfect autumn evening in Juneau. The table will have to wait for another day. I quickly push the lumber to the side of my living room and begin to gather the essentials: wood, beer, matches, lawn chair, and of course, a rain jacket.

An hour later I’m with a few friends, sitting around a fire on the beach in a light drizzle. One of them asks if I bothered running at all on such a wet day? “Yes,” I tell them. “I went out in the late morning and it actually dried up and got really nice for the hour I was out”.

My friends all look at me in disbelief. This is when I remember that they were indoors all day, looking out the window at a wet, cold, gloomy day — not out running through the forest, creating their own “nice” day.

“Well, at least it’s nice now,” one of them adds. “Yeah, at least it’s nice now, ” I agree. The reality, of course, is that’s it’s been raining all day, and for the better part of a month.

Luckily though, if we get out and create our own “nice” weather there is a nearly endless supply of it there for the taking.

• Geoff Roes lives and runs trails in Juneau. He has run more than 40 mountain, ultra, and trail running races all over the world – winning the majority of them. He is the founder and director of the Juneau based Alaska Mountain Ultrarunning Camp. He can be reached at and more of his insights can be found on his personal website He is also a regular contributor at “Running Wild” will appear in the Juneau Empire every other Friday.

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