Weathering the Outdoors

Preparing for the unexpected and loving the experience.

You arrive at your desired outdoor location.  It's October and you just left 75 degree temperatures at your last location an hour ago, but here you stand at 10,000 feet and a wind kicks up, moisture in the air, and within five minutes the snow is blowing sideways into your ear.  That's the situation I once found myself in when guiding a sizable group on a multi-day hiking adventure.  The only option was to go downhill, so we dropped to 5,000 feet to another trail that we hoped would replace the high mountain experience we had anticipated.  It did.

This past week, a friend (Bob Grove) and I planned to get out on a good Saturday day hike.  We woke to pouring rain, and very dark skies. Too dark, it seemed, for photographs.  By 10:00 a.m. the rain was lighter and we determined to go out and brave the elements.  I knew a shortcut route through sage, and over sand, that got us into a nearby canyon that is still relatively  unknown.  We had our rain jackets with hoods, gloves on our hands, and I had a forest green pancho over my camera bag.  I looked a bit like a commando soldier, but hey, you've got to protect your gear.  We dropped into a wash and soon entered a spot I've always called Corner Canyon (not its real name).  I love this place for it's shallow stair-stepping ledges where pools of water can collect during the rain, plus the canyon get's narrow and there are some fun precipices to ascend for great views.

The rock colors are vivid and the view is great from this ledge in the canyon.

Colors in the rain or snow: Anytime the red sandstone of my neighborhood get's wet, the colors deepen and become more intense on the rock.  Because the rock is already stained by mother nature with various layers of weathered varnish the color variations are quite incredible.

Extreme weather can often make your outdoor experience more memorable, hopefully for the better.

They don't call it slick-rock for nothing:   Sandstone is quite soft and when wet, it can more easily deteriorate under foot, and hand grips when climbing might be more tenuous.

Angles for best pictures:  It's great to have others with you who are willing to stand in a shot, or take the photo of you in the frame, and it's good to find a photo spot that put's the photographer 50-100 feet away from the person/s in the shot.  Placing at least one person in the shot can bring perspective to a grand scene.  If the best scenic view is downward then the photographer may find the best angle by gaining some elevation (a tree, a rock ledge).  Alternately don't be afraid to lie on the ground, or find a spot that is lower than your subject for the upward view.

Even the geese were grounded by the storm.

Preparing for the weather:  We've all been surprised by unexpected weather, rain, snow, wind, lightning, etc.
- Even in the summer I've found that it's wise to have an extra jacket layer in my pack, especially at higher elevations.  I try to always carry a light pancho which can be used to keep moisture away, but is also a good wind break and protection against wind chill.
- Carry some method of starting a fire and enough water.  I also usually carry one of those cheap reflective plastic emergency blankets (weighs a few ounces).
- Check roads for bad conditions or flooding.
- Tell someone where you're going. I always do this.

Learn more about Bob Grove at