Wet in the Forest


Wet in the Forest

The rain had finally stopped, only to be replaced by a dull fog that shrouded the tree tops above me.  Big trees surrounded me, Douglas firs and hemlocks that towered 200 feet and more.  Most were 4-5 feet in diameter--big, old growth trees, valuable trees, more trees than I could count.


As far as I could see up the hill, the old forest grew on the silent slope. From someplace high above in the foggy canopy, a single oversized drop of rainwater was waiting for the precise moment. It loosened its grip on a limb and plummeted toward the ground. At that moment I was lifting my face skyward to marvel at so many large trees. The accuracy was flawless and the timing was impeccable.


SPLAT! Instantly, my eyeglasses were covered with a film of water as the one drop deluge landed on my face.  No doubt about it--it was gonna be another long, wet day in the Oregon forest.
I hiked up the ridge beneath the canopy of old growth and crossed over to the north face of the ridge. The grand old forest disappeared, replaced by a nearly impenetrable wall of rhododendrons and noble fir saplings. Every step became treacherous on the steep sideslope as the caulks on my boots sought to grip something. More than once did the dull spikes fail to bite into some bit of wood, and I slipped violently down the hillside. Every branch and leaf was covered with several drops of water that cascaded down on me whenever I moved. One branch jarred another, and a miniature monsoon followed me across the slope.


Another false step sent me skittering down the hill on my back and hip. I hit the small tree hard and unexpectedly.  Mandy looked at me, puzzled, then wagged her tail and licked my face. She was one very wet golden retriever, but this day in the woods was fun compared to her daily kennel confinement. I wiped the dirt from my face and hands as best I could, then tried to smile at the happy dog.


My miserable misfortune was her adventure, and she trotted off to investigate another tree. As though the steep hillside and wet brush were not enough, I found my way barred by several dozen windfalls. Each tree was perfectly positioned across my intended path and at the perfect height--too low to crawl under and too long to walk around.


I scrambled atop one tree, caulks and fingers searching frantically for any crevice in the loose bark. Branches cracked and gave way under my feet or pulled loose in my hand as I crawled over, around and through the thick jungle.  Behind me, Mandy whined her frustration and I had to return to help her along. An ant in an ice storm could have made more progress than I. Suddenly I was free of the brush, having stepped unexpectedly into thin air.  I found myself slipping and slithering down 20 feet of near vertical road bank. I maintained my balance though I must have looked like a drunken skier as I careened down the slope.  Shaken but not stirred, I stood in the roadside ditch staring up at the slope I had just descended.


As my eyes lifted skyward to retrace the path I had followed.... SPLAT!  Mother Nature sure has a funny sense of humor as I reached for a hanky to dry off my eyeglasses again.  Oh well, a person can get only so wet and then the rest runs off anyway.  The toes inside my boots squished in agreement while Mandy wagged her tail waiting for the next adventure to begin.