dewWhen it comes to the outdoors, there are several factors that come into play and have an effect on each day we spend on the trail. Luckily, some of these factors we can control—clothes, food, shelter, etc. However, there are several external factors that we simply can’t control—animal behavior, temperature, and the weather forecast. The weather will play a large role in how you handle the wilderness, but with no control over its unpredictability, what do you do? While you can’t control the weather, there elements you can observe within the ecosystem to gain a better prediction over what the weather will do, and the water activity at ground level is one such element.

Fog can be a helpful indicator of weather to come throughout the day, so knowing how to read it will be a big asset. For instance, if a morning fog dissipates by midday, chances are it will be clear for the remainder of the day. Once you get to higher altitudes, though, thick, dark fog that sticks around typically foreshadows showers.

Going a little lower, it’s smart to pay attention to the dew that glistens along the forest floor and grass. A heavy morning or late night dew usually signals nice weather for the next 10-12 hours or so. However, if the dew is caused by rain throughout the night, then it may rain again. Contrarily, if there is no dew in the morning—especially in regions where there is a consistency of mid to high humidity—expect rain to be heading your way.

Lastly, during cooler seasons, frost can accumulate on plant life and grass. Like dew, a heavy frost early in the morning or late at night usually foretells nice weather for the next 10-12 hours. Icy frost, which is actually frozen dew, typically means a cold front has come through your area, and chilly days are to come.

As you can see, while you can’t change the weather, you can look all around you for signs of what might be on its way, weather-wise. Aside from clouds and animal behavior, take a look at what the water at ground level is doing, and you’ll gain a better prediction of what’s to come.