Each year, when school got out for the summer, my dad would haul the dusty old backpacking tent in from the barn and toss it on the living-room carpet. He’d announce that we were going to go camping that weekend, and we’d best get our hiking boots oiled up and threaded with new laces.
That first trip of the year was always a sampler of every misfortune a camper could have, except, thankfully, for the tragic kind. We came close a time or two, though. Most of the time, it was a lesson in camping hardships by immersion. Literally and figuratively.
Spring is always the best time of year to go camping if you want to get wet. Really wet. Even in a dry year, your chances of getting hosed down by 32.1-degree water falling in a torrent from a giant cloud suspended a mere four feet above your head are about a seventy-five percent. And if you go camping with me in June, you can bump that up to an even one-hundred. My dad has the same rainstorm-attracting ability, so we learned early to make sure our rain gear was always the easiest thing to reach and the most well-maintained piece of equipment we had.
We spent a week at Fisherman Creek Lake one June, and it never stopped raining. By the time we left, every piece of paper we had with us was a sodden wad of pulp, and every piece of fabric was 20 times its original weight. We were four inches taller than usual, because our boots had mud platforms concreted to their soles.
Another year, the same thing happened at Waterdog Lake. More like WaterLOGGED Lake. A week during which the rain NEVER stopped falling.
You’d think we’d have learned to stay home in June. But what would be the fun in that? Of course we were going to go camping. Now, where’s my rain suit?