Tenorio Volcano National Park, Costa Rica

Verdant rainforest vegetation on slopes of Tenorio Volcano in Costa Rica.

“Even over the roar of the waterfall, I could hear it coming.

It was only supposed to be a quick hike in. As I headed away from Miravalles this morning, I’d taken tone more look through my Lonely Planet to see if there was something else I should shoot in this neck of the woods before heading on. Volcan Tenorio lies no more than 20 miles south of here as the crow flies. But someone ate the crow and Costa Rican road miles remind me more of dog years.

The first hour was the easy part, after that I was crawling the Jeep over rock fields in first gear, listening to the sound of my insurance deductible grinding away below me.

I wanted just one more rainforest shot, and I read up on a waterfall here that empties into a spectacular blue pool thanks to its high mineral content. What’s not to love. The weather seemed cooperative, in a cloudy but warm sort of way. I grabbed my stuff and headed up the trail, not even bothering with the raincoat. It would only be an hour…

But time has a way of slipping away once I’m in the woods with a load of gear. By the time I’d shot my way through the mosses, vines and random tropical greenery the clouds seemed to loom a bit darker. I climbed a 150 feet down a precipitous set of steps carved into the cliff wall and looked out at the waterfall and pond, as described. The tripod went up, the camera came out, and off in the distance, even over the rush of waterfall falling, I heard a sound like interstate traffic in the distance.

It started to rain. And not some little cloud forest misting. This was the real deal. A cloud emptying, gully washing, if you fell asleep you’d wake up drowned sort of storm. I huddled under a thicket of trees and vines, but that only lasted so long. There might have been a dry stitch on me somewhere, but it would have taken more looking around than I was inclined to do at that point. After a while, I simply hunched over the camera bag, trying without much better luck to save the electronics.

It let up just enough for me to think to myself, ‘a real photographer would get back to work.’ I headed for the car. But along the way, fog and mist descended most moodily, and I managed to dry out the gear enough for another frame or two.

And then it REALLY started to pour.

In the park ranger’s outhouse, I stripped off everything, piled into dry clothes and started driving. I did not stop until I saw the Pacific Ocean.”

Photographed January 26, 2009 with a Canon EOS-1Ds III camera and 45mm f/2.8 Tilt-Shift Lens. Exposure 1/4 seconds at f/8.

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