Autumn Awareness picture

Autumn Awareness

Autumn brings several changes to the deciduous forests, and makes them a very different world from the same forests in late summer. All of leaf litter on the forest floor changes the look of the terrain. It can obscure unfamiliar trails, and in some cases the leaves will cover fallen branches and make a gap between stone outcroppings appear as solid ground. In the mountains here, this can create some dangerous hazards along the edges of bluffs. A sturdy walking stick and a reliable light are among mire required gear for autumn outings. Because the darkness can be perilous and sunset can catch you off guard with advent of shorter days. Hiking the woods here in the fall of the year at night without a light can be hazardous to ones health.

All of the fallen leaves can also make it take longer to relocate dropped items if you don't see exactly where they hit the ground. Unless a trail is well trodden throughout the autumn, the leaves can easily reach a depth of several inches, and much like snow, they can drift much deeper in places. Since I am a person that prefers earth tones that blend in with the forest rather than stand out, this has been an issue for me at times in the past. Particularly when a piece of gear was lost in a fall or tumble. Having devoted more time than I would like digging through the leaves looking for a lost item – it's somewhat like looking for a needle in a hay stack – I have learned that it can be a good idea to take a few precautions with important pieces of kit. With knives that blend in very well with the leaves, I will add a colorful lanyard to help them stand out. I also carry brightly colored fire starters and flashlights, and the long neck lanyard on my compass is bright red. There are a lot of options on colors; bright red, safety orange, neon pink or green, so it is best to look around and see what doesn't exist or is least common in the autumn woods you wander most. Here, where the forest is floor is mostly varying shades of greens, browns, and tans, orange camouflage works well for me. In a maple forest orange isn't much help, and bright blue could be a better choice.

Color choices are almost always chosen as a matter of personal preference, usually based on aesthetics. With bright colors it can be a case of compromising, or choosing the less annoying color for some people. The goal however, in this case is simple to help keep up with an important (and often expensive) piece of gear. I am definitely not a huge fan of brighter oranges like safety orange, so I go with the broken pattern of orange camouflage like that of a hunting vest. It isn't an intensely bright color, but I do spot it immediately if I am scanning around for gear I have dropped or set down in the leaves.

So take a little time and look around at all of the colors that are present or not present in your area, and put some thought into which color most appeals to you or speaks to your personality. Even if it turns out that you have settle for a color that you don't really care for, it can be well worth the sacrifice. The whole idea behind it is to make sure you and your gear arrive at your destination together, that it is there to perform its' intended tasks, and that you enjoy your day out.  


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