The Unexpected


I’ve spent a lot of time in the woods over the years and that means I’ve had to deal with bad weather. Sometimes I purposely go out on a rainy or snowy day just for the effect. Sometimes I go out when the weather is “iffy” figuring that a 50% chance of sun is the bright side of a 50% storm prediction – rolling the dice doesn’t always pay off. And then there are the times when no matter how carefully I follow the weather reports and pick and choose my trip dates, unexpected things happen anyway. Nature is still unpredictable – cool.

Part of the fun of hiking (for me anyway) is knowing that stuff might happen that I’m not expecting. Of course I’m downright counting on seeing and experiencing new and different colors and textures and shapes and sounds. Even when I walk in places I’ve been many times before, no two days are exactly alike. Growth and change is what the woods is all about. It wouldn’t be very interesting if everything stayed the same all the time.

Beyond that sort of subtle unexpectedness (is that a word?), there are the more staccato events. Maybe I’ll meet a moose. Maybe he will be in a bad mood. Maybe I’ll get caught in a torrential downpour or maybe a freak blizzard that no one saw coming. Maybe I’ll slip on some wet stones and break my leg. Maybe I’ll get lost.

I haven’t ever gotten lost yet (knock on wood). I have been on the edge a few times though. You know when you stop and look around and think that something isn’t right. Sometimes a certain landmark doesn’t show up where it should or you walk and walk and walk and you start to feel like you should have arrived by now, but nothing looks familiar. Fortunately I have been able to keep my head at these points and work my way out.


So far I haven’t broken a leg either (more wood knocking) although I have fallen down some waterfalls and come away with scrapes and bruises and once a wrenched back.

I haven’t met a moose yet; angry or otherwise – I’m still looking.

I’ve been caught in a few snowstorms and I’ve been pounded by thunderstorms more times that I can remember.

Once when my son was around four years old we were taking a little walk up a gully on a warm sunny summer’s day. He was splashing in the stream and we were looking for frogs and crawdads and what not. We came to a tall waterfall that blocked our way so being a good dad I was pushing him up a steep hillside that he was none too sure about climbing when suddenly, and I mean in a matter of minutes, black clouds broke over the top of the mountain and rain started coming down in sheets. The drops were so big they stung when they hit your skin. Lightning was flashing all around and thunder was cracking right over our heads.

We weren’t far from the car so we headed back that way. By the time we got there we were both soaked to the skin and shivering. My son was a little freaked out by it all, but actually took it pretty well – at least he still likes to go hiking with me. When we got home and told our story, no one would believe it. They hadn’t seen a hint of rain all day.

So like where is this blog going? I have no idea. I started out to say that I didn’t go hiking this week because although I don’t mind bad weather, I draw the line at going out in 60mph winds. Then it turned into an aimless ramble. Oh well. I promise to come up with something coherent next time.



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3 Responses to “The Unexpected”

  1. fencer Says:

    Aimless rambles are good…

    And rusty equipment photos too… why is rust so photogenic?


  2. Bernie Kasper Says:

    Your water shots are fantastic Mark, and this one doesn’t disappoint, great work.

  3. lookingforbeauty Says:

    I love the pace of this narrative and that it ambles a bit sideways before you get to the end. I’m vicariously walking through the woods as I read, since I can’t get out into the woods any longer except on a fairly even path (which probably defeats the purpose of a good forest walk with all the unexpected – seeing a racoon, deer, crazy looking insects, wildflowers, a lovely rill or torrent).

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