Walking in the Rain

A Blog Story About Nature in Our DuPage Forest Preserves

Walking in the Rain

Posted by Dave Andrusyk | 9/2/20 8:35 AM

Have you ever planned a hiking trip at a DuPage forest preserve, only to find out that the sunny nice day you were planning has turned into a grey, rainy day?

Don’t let bleak weather keep you from experiencing nature and the many plants that rely on the rain for their survival. From the trees to the flowers to the wetlands that support countless critters, all of the beauty we enjoy on a nice day relies on rain for their survival.

Not only does the rain benefit all of nature’s beauty, it also can directly benefit your own health. Here are some ways you can share the benefit of the rain with all of the plants and wildlife.

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Smell the Rain – and Relax

Rain causes different chemical reactions on objects, which creates the fragrance of rain after a long dry spell. One reaction occurs when oils secreted by some plants are released after they get wet from the rain.

Another reaction occurs when soil-dwelling bacteria in the soil get wet from a soaking rain. A third reaction is one that many of us would recognize from ozone in the atmosphere. When lightning strikes, it splits the oxygen and nitrogen molecules, which recombine into nitric oxide. This creates that chlorine-like smell in the air.


Rainy weather – Good for Your Skin and Hair

When the weather turns, the humidity rises and the air begins to feel heavy. High humidity is great for our skin and hair. It can make the skin feel refreshed. Scientists have found that when the humidity is at least 43% or higher, nearly 3/4 of airborne virus particles lose their strength and viability to get you sick. On top of that, when its raining, it is cooler outside and you will sweat less, reducing your body odor.

The water from the rain is extremely fresh because it does not contain minerals and harmful particles. This water is good for the skin and hair. It’s alkaline in nature, which is great for the skin and scalp and help maintain the pH level of the skin.

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Rain Will Make You Cool

The cool rain falling on you will cool your internal body heat, almost like taking a cool shower after a hot day’s work in the garden. A summer rain shower is a great way to cool off from the heat of the sun!


When It Rains, the Crowd Disappears

Whenever it starts raining, did you ever notice that everyone runs indoors or to the nearest shelter? Rainy weather opens up the trails and roads to give you the space you need to relax and enjoy your nature experience. Typically, streets will become crowded after a heavy downpour, so go take a hike while it’s raining!

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Rain Helps You Burn More Calories

According to scientific research in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, when you do physical activities in cold, rainy weather, you’ll burn more calories and fat than if you do the same activities on a nice day. Keep in mind that you’ll need to be careful that you don’t expose yourself to the cold, wet weather too much, or it could cause illness.

Now that you are all excited about your adventure out in the rain, here are few tips about your next wet trek:

Know the weather. Check the forecast and be aware of the chances for storms including thunderstorms (lightning), high winds, hail, and flooding. These can happen fast and bring dangerous situations in the prairies and forests.

mykhailo-pavlenko-shutterstock

(Photo by Mykhailo Pavlenko via Shutterstock)


Pick a preserve with shelters and shorter trails. You don’t want to get yourself into trouble. Hike in preserves with shelters or shorter trails, such as Fullersburg Woods in Oak Brook or Hidden Lake Forest Preserve in Downers Grove, so you can get to your car or protect yourself from a dangerous situation.

Wear sturdy shoes and bring trekking poles. Wet trails can become slippery. Sturdy shoes and trekking pole or a walking stick can help you keep your footing and prevent slips and falls.

HQuality-shutterstock

(Photo by HQuality via Shutterstock)


Don’t wear cotton. Wear layers and wicking material like wool, nylon, or polyester. Cotton soaks up moisture, including your sweat, which can give you a chill.

Pack extra clothes. Once you get under some shelter and your hike is done, don’t stay in those wet clothes. This can cause your body to chill and in extreme cases, develop hypothermia.

Most importantly, when hiking in the rain, make sure to bring along some common sense! If a steady rain turns into a crazy dangerous storm, go back and find a safe cozy spot to relax.

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Topics: Insider, Locations, Trails, Health and wellness, Recreation, Take 5, Nature

Written by Dave Andrusyk

Dave Andrusyk is a naturalist at the District’s Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center in Oak Brook and has worked for the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County for 20 years. He spent five years working in Natural Resource Management, doing restoration work in the preserves. Dave later taught school, scout and general public programs in the District’s forest preserves. His knowledge of native gardening stems from years of field experience with the Forest Preserve District and working on native plots at his home.