PAT NEAL: A reoccurring moisture trend

A REAL WOODSMAN doesn’t need a weatherman to know if it is going to rain.

Often, by observing the formation of clouds and direction of the wind, it’s entirely possible to come up with a weather forecast that’s just as erroneous as the weatherman with their scientists, satellites and radar.

The term rain itself is outdated. One person’s rain is another’s drizzle. What a tourist describes as rain would not qualify as a penetrating mist to the locals.

Anthropologists tell us the Inuit have over 50 different words for snow. Anthropologists have yet to determine just exactly how many words the people of the Olympic Peninsula have for rain, but probably more than 50. Very few of them can be printed in a newspaper.

When a mid-latitude cyclone evolves into an atmospheric river that delivers an intense vapor transport that devolves into a bomb cyclone, we call it a seasonal reoccurring moisture trend.

Through generations of evolution, people of the rainforest have developed the ability to go fishing in weather that is far too wet to work in.

For us, periodic rainfall events are a blessing from the heavens.

We need the occasional gullywashers to sprout the mushrooms.

Picking mushrooms is like a treasure hunt.

All you need is a four-wheel-drive vehicle, towing insurance, a tank of gas and a glove box full of permits to be on public land that enable us to enjoy what we used to call the freedom of the hills.

Picking mushrooms is one of the best ways to get lost.

Mushroom pickers rarely tell anyone where they are going or when they expect to return because of the secrecy required to engage in this activity in the first place.

As with any outdoor activity, preparation is the key to getting lost.

Experts tell us there are 10 essential items you should have to get lost in the wilderness.

The list includes fire starter, sun glasses, sunscreen and a mirror that can be used to signal rescuers — all of which are useless picking mushrooms in a rainforest.

Besides, we are already too burdened with bags and buckets of mushrooms to bother carrying anything else.

Scurrying through the underbrush, darting from one mushroom to another through swamps, over cliffs and down canyons will have you walking in circles when you least suspect it.

To avoid getting lost, we mistakenly employ numerous electronic gadgets that our modern lives have grown an unhealthy dependence upon.

These devices can display maps, tell us our GPS coordinates, steps taken, speed, direction, weather forecast and even movie reviews, unless they can’t because of moisture, shock or weather incidents and tree cover that render these expensive trinkets useless.

While it is more difficult to get lost now than it was back in the days of Daniel Boone, that’s no excuse for today’s wilderness enthusiasts to simply give up on this great American tradition.

Maybe you don’t want to get lost while picking mushrooms.

You should choose suitable terrain in which to engage in this activity. Do not pick mushrooms on flat ground. Drive into the hills. Look for your mushrooms above the road. That way you can return to the road by simply going downhill.

Can’t tell uphill from down? Maybe mushroom picking is not for you.

Often, by parking in the middle of the road while you roam the woods picking mushrooms, other drivers will be blocked and start honking their horns, giving you a reassuring sense of direction back to your vehicle.

These other drivers may be cranky. Be sure to thank them for not being lost.


Pat Neal is a Hoh River fishing and rafting guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Wednesday.

He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via

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