Continuing with my series of a few of my closeups here is one, again fairly mundane, but a lucky shot.
This is actually outdoors, not just house plants. On an otherwise dreary and rainy walk through the woods the rain stopped for a bit and made it easier to look around. I have no idea what kind of plant this is but it’s cool how the surface of the leaf makes the water bead up. Needless to say if you ever brush a leaf like this you get a shower. Green and water are obviously linked in nature but I like the juxtaposition of the two elements in a single image.
While rain does create green and can be attractive it’s also a pain when hiking or especially backpacking. My first backpacking trip was in the middle of a hurricane (one that reached New Hampshire so just a lot of rain). Tiny streams that had be easy to cross on the way up became torrents on the way down. There really isn’t raingear to stay dry in prolonged exposure to rain so after a while you’re just soaked and you don’t care any more. My almost brand new boots were so wet that after miles of hiking the linings completely disintegrated.
Rain gets particularly hazardous when it’s also cold. Once on the Pacific Crest Trail in the north Cascades after managing to stay dry most of the time on the next to last day it was just pouring. Even our normally water impervious Golden Retriever had her inner fur soaked and was cold, as were we. One bother in rain is that rest stops aren’t much fun so we cut back on them. But once we were just worn out and had to stop. Then along came another hiker who was really soaked with no raingear at all. It was our first time to witness hypothermia because he was really incoherent. We did our best to direct him (he was lost) but hopefully he fended for himself because he just wandered off, in the wrong direction.
We had planned to stay on that trail and camp at the higher elevations. But the rain was just beginning to turn to snow. We weren’t very far from hypothermia ourselves so we decided to take a side trail and descend in the valley where we’d stayed days before (we were on a loop, now returning). By the time we reached the main trail we were so groggy we almost missed the trail. We actually went there because there was a shelter nearby but after searching for a while and not finding it we decided to stop (the next morning we found it a few hundred yards away, right where we thought it was, but had missed it in our diminished capacity).
It’s now hours before bedtime so I really didn’t want to put up the tent and risk it getting wet. Over years of backpacking we had upgrade from just a tarp to a real but cheapo tent (no fly) to a better tent and finally an expedition level (and quite heavy tent). We knew it would be OK at night but the longer it was exposed to rain the more likely water would get inside.
So we searched for some place where maybe the trees would give some shelter. A small and tight ring of trees hit the spot. It was completely dry inside. Then I noticed each of the trees on the internal side of the ring had lots of completely dry snags. Soon we had a fry and despite the cramped space the two of us and our dog managed to stay out of the rain and have the fire both warm and dry us. I’m not certain we would have survived without that respite.
So now the dog is dry and we’re dry and I put up the tent, trying to avoid getting any rain inside; and to get the sleeping bags out (which were down which is useless wet) unfurled without getting them wet. We’d actually tied our dog to that ring of trees so she wouldn’t get wet again (being a Golden she loved water and was oblivious to how she spread wet to us). So one last outside trip to retrieve our dog and we’re all inside the tent and relatively dry.
The next morning we awoke to about 6″ of fresh and very wet snow. This is JULY and we were on the east side of the Cascades where it was supposed to be drier. Since it was our last day we didn’t much worry about getting wet and went ahead with some breakfast and then packing up. On the long hike back to the car each step felt like we were getting closer to dry warmth and safety. Upon reaching the car and piled wet people, dog and gear in the car we drove to the nearest town and booked the first motel. Never did a hot shower and warm dry bed feel so good. Our normally highly active Golden curled up almost the minute we got inside and slept all night long.
Had we not been somewhere experienced backpackers I think the conditions we were in were dangerous. Once you get wet and the temperature drops there is nothing you can do to stay warm. And the steady loss of body heat affects your mental condition, especially judgement. It isn’t just unpleasant it’s dangerous.
But that’s enough complaining about rain. Without it we wouldn’t have had a gorgeous place to backpack anyway or to see beautiful objects like the leaf in my photo.