Sunday, May 28, 2017

Campers of the Storm

The man who goes afoot, prepared to camp anywhere and in any weather, is the most independent fellow on earth.
-H. Kephart

Clark and I had been planning the overnighter for weeks but the weather reports suggested any sane person would stay of course we went. It was pouring rain when we got to the parking spot and we had at least an hour's hike to our secret spot. We had the right gear, leaving the only issue to be lightening strikes and falling tree limbs. Apparently the Lord protects fools, drunks, and adventurers because five minutes into our hike the rain and wind stopped and the lightening moved away. The storm had dropped the hot, humid air down to a comfortable mid-70F, unexpected for this time of year in Texas. The internet weather was saying our location was going to be pummeled repeatedly over the next 48 hours...which meant the woods would be ours and ours alone.

We raced to the campsite, expecting a new deluge to start at any minute but the only "rain" was water dripping from the tree leaves. Honestly, it was perfect....and it stayed that way.

Setting up our hammocks. I had the subdued, tan tarp while Clark goes bright orange.

Scenic Camp

There was a lot of lightening and few were closer than we liked, but the rain held off. The wind had picked up a little but just enough to keep the mosquitoes away and it barely ruffled our tarps. Because the Clarkettes had a swim meet that day we didn't leave Houston until 5pm but by 7:15pm our camp was set up and it was suppertime! Clark had his usual sandwich of Polish meats while I went with the simple and filling "boil in the bag" Chata Cochinita Pibil pork and Spanish rice wrapped in a spinach tortilla.



The sun set but almost continuous flashes of lightening kept the sky well lit. Even better, these flashes drew responses from lightening bugs dancing across the water. I need to figure out how to get pictures of the lightening, both sky and bug form.

At 2:30am a major storm blew in with pounding rain, wind, and more lightening. It was violent enough to wake me (a rare occurrence when I'm sleeping in the woods) but the hammock and tarp worked perfectly, keeping me and my gear safe, warm, and bone dry. It didn't take long for me to drift back asleep even in the tempest.

I didn't wake up until 8:30am the next morning which is probably the latest I've slept without being sedated in possibly decades! The sky was gray with fast moving clouds and the air was cool. The weather prediction continued to call for thunderstorms but it wasn't raining. No mosquitoes, either which was pretty amazing. I boiled some water for a freeze-dried breakfast, then got out my fishing kit...and fed small fish my bait. The bobber got pulled under a lot but I couldn't manage to set the hook. The water there was murky so I couldn't see what was taking my bait. Considering I was using my smallest hook it was probably just some of the minnows that were thick along the shore. Watching them chase the water-stridder bugs and other foods ended up being fascinating. I actually spent almost two hours watching the minnows eat a small bit of tortilla. It's amazing how easy it is to be entertained in the woods!

I had brought a book along but just watching the minnows, the clouds, the waving trees, the ripples of water...I never got around to being bored enough to read the book! At one point Clark and I took a walk around the pond where we were camped and I found goldenrod, amaranth, pine needles, horsemint, wild bergamot, toothache tree, wood sorrel, smartweed, and assorted other wild edibles...and two Walking Stick bugs having sex!

The birds do it, the bees do it, and the walking sticks, too!
Bug Sex

A view from across the pond.
Scenic Camp

Eventually it was time to pack up and head home. From putting the first item back in my pack to rolling into my driveway took exactly two hours, and this included hiking for five minutes in the pouring rain again as we approached my truck. I guess that was just God having a little fun with us because all it did was makes us think how absolutely grand the weekend was and how glad we were that we didn't let the weather reports scare us off.

I was worried this small stream would be raging water on our return but it was nothing.

Looking back, the first post of this blog was May 17th, 2005...such a long time ago! Back them Clarke and I probably would have just sat home, griping about the weather. Over the years, through trial and error, we've reached the point where we feel we can handle just about anything nature can through at us. Whether or not this is true I suspect we'll find out some day...

Adventure! Excitement! Experience!

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