There’s nothing quite like camping the rain…
It was raining before we even left Portland. We’d been planning this camping trip for a while now, having been postponed a handful of times this summer. Time was running out to go camping. A little rain wasn’t going to stop us from getting our “nature time.”
We pulled into the campsite and immediately go to work setting up the tent and canopy. The ground was wet and there was a trickle of smoke from the remains of the last campers. We decided it was best to put the canopy over the fire pit to start drying it out for a fire later. I wandered off to collect wood for the fire. I had a feeling we were going to need a lot of them. The best way to find firewood at these kinds of camping sites is not to go into the woods, just go next door. I found a trash can full of nearly dry wood for the fire.
Once everything was set up, the weather lightened up to a slight drizzle, so we went for a walk in the direction of the pools. We didn’t know how far away they were exactly, but we knew we were walking in the general direction and they would be hard to miss. At one point, we veered off the path and headed down the water. We walked by a family campsite, where they yelled “ya’ll want some liquid sunshine?”
We walked over to the campsite, seeking refuge under their canopy.
“Do you know how far are we from Opal Creek?” We asked them.
“Probably 15 miles.” One of them responded. “You want a beer?”
Sure. Why not.
This was a beautiful moment. It took us wandering around in a forest in the rain to encounter to be reminded that we’re all in this together. Walking around in the rain sucks. It sucks a little less if you’ve got a slight buzz on. Seek shelter and share a moment with us. We talked about the weather, getting into camp late, what we studied in school, and when we’re heading home. Chances are, in any other place than that moment, I would have said nothing to these people. I’ve grown a little bit. Thanks, nature! We finished our drinks, said our goodbyes and good lucks.
We headed back to camp, jumped in the car, and found a closer trail head to the Opal Creek Pool on the other side of the river. We’d do it tomorrow. It was time to head home and build a fire. Building a fire in the rain, with wet wood and sticks, is a challenge. It’s absolutely doable, but it’s a feat worth putting yourself through. Enjoy the struggle, because the satisfaction of sitting around a warm campfire when it’s raining is a beautiful thing. You created the fire that’s giving off warmth. You’ve contributed. You succeeded. Be proud and char that weenie.
The rain didn’t give up all night, beating ceaselessly against our tent as we cuddled up in our sleeping bags. Who knows how much sleep we actually got. But when we peaked our heads out of the tent in the morning, the rain had stopped. Again, I got to making the fire and again, it was a struggle. Finally, it caught and we agreed to burn all the wood I collected. Pure satisfaction. And sure enough, the rain picked up again, but we didn’t care. After lunch we packed up the campsite and drove to the trail head. Even in the rain, the hike to the Opal Creek Pool is beautiful. It’s just over 3 miles to the pools, with a walk through the Jawbone Flats creek near the end. It’s a great hike. Beautiful.
I’ve been on a lot of hikes. Short hikes. Extended day trips. Sunny hikes and rainy hikes. Growing up in Southern California during a drought, I always had an odd perspective on rain. I know the Earth needed it, but when it finally did rain, we stayed indoors out of it’s reach. Is that a negative connection? Maybe. But hiking in the rain makes you more cognizant of the little things. You’re thankful for shelter. You’re thankful for the reliability of your car. You’re thankful for the food you eat. Even the air tastes and feels better when you breathe it in. This is a slice of an inglorious life in the middle of mother nature, far away from the comforts of your everyday life. Camping inspires you to grow through appreciation.
It’s only when things are not ideal, when you’re camping in the rain, do you realize how truly fortunate you are to just “be.” Get outside. Go into nature. Go get wet.