Jun 18 2009

Rainy Days and Shutterbug Ways…
Why I Like Wet Hikes

 
This year has been very wet, and if I only went outside in fine weather, I wouldn’t get out very often. I don’t mind riding my bike in the rain if I must, but unless I’m touring, I often have a choice about whether or not to hit the road, and I prefer not to if possible. Drivers can’t see as well when it’s raining and the roads are fogged by mist they kick up with their wheels. And the bike requires a thorough cleaning after such rides, which is time-consuming and easy to put off because of that. So when it’s wet and I want to get out, I like to hike.

Fortunately for me, I like hiking in light rain and drizzle, in what novelist Tony Hillerman calls “female rain.” The air is fresh and sweet, wildlife is active, insects are often immobilized, and the trails are empty of revelers. Best of all, a wet landscape offers plenty of beautiful scenes which cry out to be photographed. Some are subtle, others spectacular. Here are a few from my latest rainy day hike.

 
Chinks had begun to form in the otherwise uniform overcast sky, and the sun tried to peek through, highlighting the large droplets which dripped from the leaves:

 

Droplets on Leaf

 
Everywhere there were water droplets sparkling like jewels on leaves, on grass, and on flowers. Here are droplets like cabochons on aspen leaves:

 

Droplets on Aspen Leaves

 
Here they are up close:

 

Droplets on Aspen Leaves

 
In a brief heavier shower I took shelter under overhanging oak limbs which drooped under the weight of the water on their leaves.

 

Drooping Oaks

 
I wasn’t the only one to find shelter under the taller trees. This inchworm found a resting place on a gray birch leaf:

 

Droplets on Aspen Leaves

 
The nearby maples have already been discovered by leaf-eating insects, even though they’ve been fully emerged for only a few weeks:

 

Insect-eaten Maple Leaves

 
The clouds thinned to the south while the shower continued overhead, giving me this shot:

 

More Oaks

 
The showers passed and I continued down the trail. The recent rain had brightened the green hues on the tender new tips of this hemlock:

 

Hemlock Needles

 
Wild strawberries are ripening. No larger than the tip of my pinkie finger, these delicious fruits are much loved by birds, grouse, and small mammals.

 

Strawberries

 
The green landscape is punctuated by the bright yellow of goatsbeard blooms:

 

Yellow Goatsbeard

 
Goatsbeard are interesting flowers. Their blooms open early in the morning but close by midday—except on gloomy days. Here’s a closer view:

 

Close-Up Goatsbeard

 
No doubt but that the day would continue moody. The clouds thickened again as I approached the end of my hike:

 

Broody Skies

 
But the impending rain didn’t discourage another hiker on the trail:

 

Br'er Fox

 
A long shot for my telephoto lens, and grainy because of that, but it’s still possible to see the fox’s mottled red and black coat and his busy tail. He scooted away when he saw me, no doubt heading for one of the burrows dug out of the sandy ridge off to the left and out of sight.

 
It was time for me to get off the trail, too, but I’ll be visiting again often, and I won’t let the rain keep me away. If you’d like to enjoy rainy hikes without getting wet, just visit our new Outside Up North Photo Gallery Enjoy!

 
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