Heading south on the tarmac, cycling past the airport, past Vera Plaines, past the line. Heavy clouds and distant thunder approaching over the southeast horizon does not bode well for a casual walk in the forest. A headwind feels like rain is on the way. Ditching my bicycle at a trailhead, I scramble to the edge of the forest as the rain overtakes. Today I have come prepared, with waterproof, umbrella, and wellingtons. The things a photographer will do for a picture….
Once inside the forest, the wind subsides. A steady sh-sh-sh-sh of water cascading through trees muffles all other sounds. Leaves that crunched underfoot in weeks past are now soggy and silenced. I feel a little more apprehensive, glancing over my shoulder lest any beasts approach in a silent way. Judging by the lack of monkeys and birds in the canopy, it is unlikely I will have an animal encounter. Of greater concern, I discover, are branches dropping from the canopy. Dead branches, soggy and weighted by the soaking rain, occasionally crack from high above, triggering a spark of attention as they drop to the forest floor. A heavy limb laden with lianas breaks loose nearby with a creaking and gunshot crack, dangling mid-story in a stranglehold of vine.
The depressions in the forest floor are mostly filled with water, one pool trickling to another as they work their way to the lagoons. No telling how deep these pools are, the tannin colored water and immeasurable leaf mass covering any sign of stable ground. From downed trees to exposed buttress roots I make my way tottering above the dark pools. It is slow going at best. At worst, I misstep, plunging through a floating mass of vegetation to mid-thigh, the vacuum of swamp ooze threatening to suck my flooded wellingtons from my feet. A couple of hours of this and I am exhausted, completely soaked, and in need of fresh air. The rain seems to have ended, though every branch I grab sends another shower from above.
The rain is replaced by a vapor that seems to rise from the ground. If I wasn’t already soaked, I would be again. The returning heat and humidity sends me to the forest edge and out onto savanna, where a cooling breeze is most welcome.
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