The Camping Trip from Hell

Tent Camping Before Storm

Camping, before the storms

While camping season is year-round in many areas, it really gets into full swing as the weather becomes warmer. This warmer weather has me thinking about a tent camping trip several years ago, which was disastrous, to say the least. The decision to purchase a camper, while somewhat impulsive, was largely influenced by this camping trip. While certainly not the only factor in making the purchase, it was the most impactful.

Over a long weekend, my husband and I decided to go camping and found a campground on a lake within a couple of hours of our house. Having only a small, two-person tent, we upgraded prior to the trip as we needed additional space to accommodate the dog. We purchased a spacious tent that claimed to handle wind gusts up to 75mph.

After arriving at the campground, we set up our tent, started a fire, and enjoyed a peaceful evening. The weather was warm and the forecast claimed a chance of overnight storms.

Jolting awake at 2 am, it took me a moment to figure out what was happening. The wind was whipping outside, caving in the tent walls. There was a flash of lightning followed by a loud clap of thunder. A downpour of rain was splattering the exterior of the tent.

I woke up my husband who can sleep through just about anything as the storm only seemed to grow. We hunkered down in the tent listening to the wild weather outside. The walls of the tent continued to sink inward until eventually there were times they were touching us.

The thunder and lightning became more constant and we decided to head to the car. I grabbed the dog who was surprisingly calm and made a mad dash through the storm to the car. The dog hopped into the back seat and I jumped into the front. Meanwhile, my husband was spreading out our bags and other belongings in the tent trying to weigh it down so it wouldn’t blow away. At this point, the tent was sagging and appeared to be mostly collapsed in the wind. A short time later, he too ran to the car hopping in the passenger seat. We watched the storm continue to lash outside and tried to doze off for a little more sleep.

The next morning, the weather was once again calm and the sun was shining. Other than a few puddles and the damp ground, one would have assumed the storm never occurred. Our tent had been destroyed. Completely sunk in on one side, a tent post was poking through the fabric and there was also a large tear near the roof. A man who lived on the other side of the lake drove through the campground checking on the campers in the park. The frontline winds had directly hit the lakefront campsites, including ours.

We packed up our things and moved them from the tent to the car. Taking down and throwing away what remained of the tent, we saw that our tent wasn’t the first to be thrown in the dumpster. A few fellow campers had suffered a similar fate. Deciding to stick it out for the second and final night of our trip, we planned to sleep in the car.

The day was beautiful and hot. We splashed around in the lake and enjoyed the outdoors. By nighttime, the wind had started to pick up once again. This time the storm moved in earlier. We watched the lightning in the distance move closer and closer while we were eating dinner. It was another doozy of a storm, but this time we had more shelter in the car.

Our teardrop camper was purchased several months following this camping trip. While it still isn’t recommended to be in such a small camper in high winds, it at least provides some protection. We’ve been through a couple of rainstorms and smaller thunderstorms, but nothing like what we experienced during that camping trip.

In the last couple of years or so, we’ve slowly eased our way back into tent camping. We had a phenomenal visit to Big Bend and are looking forward to many trips to come.

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