Remembering rough weather camping.
Over at Random Acts Of Patriotism, ASM826 recalls snow camping back in 1969.
I recall winter camping in the 1980s with my troop.
We had Kelty sleeping bags, and Eureka 2-man backpacker dome tents. Being mostly in North Texas, it was hard to achieve an honest-to-Gawd two-day freeze-out in the winter. Sure, cold snaps happen in Texas-- as I write this, it's 14 degrees outside-- but planning to have the whole troop camp out during one is difficult. Some Scouts never got a full weekend freeze-out. I honestly don't remember if I ever got my Winter Camping badge, which means that I probably didn't.
What I did get a lot of was rain camping. Texas in the spring and autumn can be mighty pleasant, which means that's when we did a lot of camping. But that's also when some impressive amounts of rain comes in.
I recall one campout where we arrived at our site two hours after dark. I was 13, I think, and was new to the troop. I had an 11 year old tent mate, who had used the dome tents before, and began to set our tent up in the very spot where he had come to a stop when we fanned out from the central part of the camp area (The chuck box and the van that had brought us that Friday night.). I looked at the ground, and saw that, while his spot was flat, it was also at the confluence of two mild depressions that came down a gentle hill above us. I vetoed the spot, and moved us to a low ridge a few feet above it, and we set up there. I further irritated my tentmate by stopping to take time to carefully pull and re-pull the ground cloth so that it perfectly fit the underside of the tent, and folded the excess under the ground cloth, pulling it back out and redoing it when I found that he han folded it OVER, unwittingly making a basin. I dug a shallow trench on the uphill side only, and left the dirt on the downhill side of the trench, to be refilled when we struck camp.
There were no clouds, and the moon was full, with a halo around it.
About 3:00 AM, all hell broke loose as a thunderstorm ripped above us. The lightning in the clouds above us seemed just a hundred yards away, and was clearly visible through the fabric roof of the tent and the fabric rain fly above it. The noise was deafening. The rain pounded our tent like golf balls poured from a great height, and before long, some small hail joined it. The wind vexed our little dome tent fore and aft. My tentmate was at first scared. I told him to be quiet, and watch, and listen! It was thrilling. Before long, he and I sounded like people watching a particularly good fireworks show, muttering "Ooh! That was a good one!"
Over the wind and the pounding rain and the thunder, we began to hear other sounds. Yelps of other unhappy Scouts, as the rain began to enter their tents. One pair of boys had picked our abandoned low flat spot, and they were experiencing a very, very swampy time. Others had seeping occurring at the edges, where their groundcloths hadn't been properly put down, or the land just pushed water into their tent walls. Howls of frustration filled the camp.
But in our tent, my bunkmate and I laughed from within our dry sleeping bags, and enjoyed the storm.