She told me she'd never gone camping before, aside from childhood expeditions in the back yard or spots on the beach within walking distance of stores, and it nearly broke my heart. I spent a lot of summers hiking and camping with my dad as a kid, and by the time I became an adult I made it a point to camp at least once a year. I was, and still am, very privileged to have had-- and still have-- a back yard that's federally protected wilderness, so awhile back I agreed to take her camping. She got a free weekend and came up to see me, and even though the weather report called for rain the chances were slim; 20% here isn't usually likely to produce anything other than maybe cool looking clouds, so we excitedly waited for Saturday.
I got my car camping gear sorted through and situated. A K-Mart quality tent and stove I've had for years, an old cooking set, a hand-me-down sleeping bag, and a bunch of other necessities made their way into the trunk of the car, and after a quick stop at the store for Doritos, hot dog buns, and other fireside munchies, we headed north.
The clouds swirled along the peaks of the mountains. The sky beyond them was gray, the darkness from beyond them skirting the white clouds and blue skies above the valley floor. The breeze was gently sweeping through the desert and making the sagebrush and errant tree sway lazily along the roadside. Light cut through the clouds in the Sierra canyons in golden beams. Jackrabbits hopped across the road as we made our way west into Gray's Meadow, in the foothills below Independence Peak in the Kearsarge Pass area.
We found ourselves a little wooded campsite and began to set up for the night. After the tent was up, the food put away, stove ready to go, and everything else in its place, we settled in. The clouds were drifting along overhead. The sunset brought bright oranges and soft pinks among the deep blues and grays, and the cool of evening crept in as the colors faded into the evening. I made a fire, starting it with some napkins and some (surprisingly effective and obviously delicious) Doritos, and I began making up scary stories while being laughed at. It was dark, but it was still early, so we looked forward to burning up the rest of the firewood and taking in the evening before going calling it a night.
|Nothing could possibly go wrong.|
Then the rain started.
Lightning was flashing off to the south once it'd gotten dark, but it was far enough away that it served as little more than something cool to look at. After awhile, though, a raindrop hit my hand, and after that a slight drizzling of rain started to come down. That would have been fine too except the lightning and thunder started to get closer, and as time went on the rain started getting heavier. In my infinite wisdom I'd forgotten to consider packing rain gear aside from the rain fly for the tent. As the lightning and thunder got closer, the rain got heavier, the wind picked up, and we got thoroughly drenched, we finally relented to the weather and broke camp in the dark.
As we drove back home, watching the storm surround the valley floor and lightning cracking through the clouds and to the ground, I felt a little bummed that I couldn't show the normal camping experience with someone who'd never experienced it. After we got home, dried off, and had a few rounds of Cruisi'n World for the N64 (which, for the record, I dominated), I was glad to have the experience of being rained out. It was something I hadn't really experienced in awhile, and it gives me an excuse to go camping again with her soon. It served as a reminder that things can be a lot of fun even if they don't go as planned, and how quickly the weather can turn sour.
I can't wait to go again.