Camping In Stormy Weather

When you’ve camped as much as I have you know that conditions aren’t always pleasant. In fact, sometimes things can get downright ugly. Have you ever gone camping in stormy weather?

I remember times when the sky was so angry looking that it was scary.

One time on a weekend visit to Mississinewa Lake in Indiana we experienced one of those times. My lady, grandson, and I pitched camp on Friday evening. We had my lady’s Lhasa-Shit Zu mix dog with us too. The weather was warm, and the sky clear.

On Saturday morning after breakfast we took the kayaks to the water for a day of paddling – or so we intended. After a couple of hours on the lake, the sky suddenly started turning dark as clouds rolled in, and completely blocked the sunlight.

We headed back to our launch point trying to get back to the campsite before the storm hit. Unfortunately, the weather moved in faster than we paddled. It was a total drenching. Before we made it back to shore everything about us was soaked. Since the morning started off sunny with a cloudless sky we had no protection from the downpour.

We’d left the dog in the tent while we went kayaking, with the side windows of the tent open so she could see out. Now that pooch was terrified of loud noises, and thunder scared her into a panic. And of course, that storm had plenty of thunder, made more intense with lightning.

When we got back to the we found our own little lake inside the tent. The floor was flooded. The dog was all beside herself with fright. It was amazing that she hadn’t torn her way through the side of the tent trying to get away from the noise. She was also as soaked as we were, so was all our bedding and clothes. With those windows open nothing kept the rain out.

You see, those windows were large enough that they almost covered the side of the tent – on three sides.

Fortunately, by that time the storm moved on, the clouds were clearing, and the sun started peeking out at us again. We got everything hung out on a rope in time to dry during the afternoon.

Another time when I was camping in stormy weather was on one of my kayak trips. Most years since the 1970s I take off for a 30-mile trip down Sugar Creek in Indiana. The creek flows past Shades and Turkey Run state parks, and through some really beautiful areas. The Indians named it Sugar Creek because of the many sugar maples that grow along its shores.

I like to spend five or more days drifting/paddling down the creek. I stop each night to set up camp on a sandbar and enjoy the wildlife.

On one occasion, about a half hour after heading out for the day, a storm blew in on me. It was a strong storm, and I started looking for shelter right away. There wasn’t any place convenient to give me cover, but I did find a little cove kind of spot. I slid my kayak into it sideways and hung on.

Camping In Stormy Weather ShelterThat’s a picture of the place there on the right. At the time of the storm, the top of that rock was even with my shoulder. During that storm I just laid my arm on top to keep me in place. That shelf didn’t have any handholds, and the wind gusts kept trying to drag me away.

I was more prepared for that storm, and when I noticed it approaching I put my on so I didn’t get real wet.

A couple days later my daughter told me that storm produced some gale force winds. I wondered why it was so hard to hold onto that rock. As I waited out the storm I heard one loud crack across the creek and looked over just in time to see a tree fall.

After the storm passed (about a half-hour I guess) the weather calmed down, and I headed downstream again. The rest of that day I saw freshly downed trees every so often where the winds knocked them over or broke their trunks.

Those are the kinds of conditions I experienced when camping in stormy weather. Luckily they don’t happen often.

You have to take the bad to enjoy the good.