"We need the tonic of wildness --
to wade sometimes in marshes
where the bittern and the meadow-hen lurk,
and hear the booming of the snipe;
to smell the whispering sedge where only some
wilder and more solitary fowl builds her nest...
We require that all things be mysterious and
that land and sea be infinitely wild,
unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because
We can never have enough of nature."
-- Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), from Walden
* * * * *
We’re fortunate that here in the Northeast we don’t see much truly “off-the-charts” weather. The two hurricanes of a few years ago were about as extreme as we get.
Most summers and winters we do have to contend with occasional bouts of near-record-breaking heat or cold, but average temperatures tend to be comfortable.
And as I often try to remind people, conditions on our hikes in the mountains are usually pleasant. We’ve had a few muggy days this year, but I can’t recall a single trip where temperatures got above the 70s -- which is a nice maximum for hiking.
It’s no secret that this past week may have been the most uncomfortable of the summer, given how many days the heat and humidity stayed in the upper ranges.
It sure does make for sweaty travel whenever we venture out from our homes. Thankfully the mountain forests have their own form of breezy air conditioning.
We’ve also had a whole slew of days lately when showers and thunderstorms have been in the forecasts, often with warnings about the risk of lightning and flooding.
As I find myself reciting throughout the year, probably 4 times out of 5 any predicted showers or thunderstorms fizzle out, or arrive after we’re done hiking.
Much of the general public seems to be unaware of the fact that we’ve been in a semi-drought for almost a year, and more rain continues to be very badly needed.
According to Weather.com: “The period from March through May… was one of the driest on record across parts of the Northeast. These conditions have continued during July and August, and temperatures have generally been well above average. This combination has created moderate to severe drought over a significant portion of the region.”
Thankfully, week before last up to several inches fell in the way-too-dry mountain regions. On our 8/6 & 8/7 hikes, for the first time in months, we saw substantial water flowing in mountain streams. More rain was predicted for the past few days -- and heavy rain did fall in some areas but not in others. Let’s hope that we get lots more in the coming days and weeks.
-- Charlie Cook