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Sunset on the Backside of a Storm

I made this photograph just a few weeks ago. Late summer camping in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California with my best friend Bill.

It was a short trip of only 3 nights, but we both made every effort to squeeze as much enjoyment out of this trip and our time together as we could.

We spent most of our time hiking and exploring new places. Lounging in camp, playing cards, eating, drinking and dodging rain drops.

The dodging rain drops part is important because we did have our fair share of weather pass through the drainage that we were camped in. Bill and I have been camping and backpacking together for over 50 years now, so I think it is fair to say that we are very experienced and well prepared to deal with a little weather while in the wild. In addition to experience (and probably just as important) we are both blessed with the capability to invest in quality gear which has a huge impact on comfort and enjoyment while living in the wild.

Even before leaving for this trip, we both knew that there was a good possibility that we would get some weather (rain) while there. We arrived at camp and were greeted by clear skies, mild temperatures and no bugs! Perfect conditions for setting up camp. Within an hour we had all our main gear set-up, the kitchen in place and all our food and scented items stored in the bear box. Shortly thereafter we were sitting in our camp chairs enjoying the clean mountain air, the wonderful warmth of the afternoon sun and an adult beverage when Bill noticed the first clouds cresting the eastern ridgeline on the far side of the creek that runs through camp. “No immediate threat, but worth keeping an eye on none the less.” He said.

We spent the next couple of hours milling about camp, getting less important tasks done while constantly checking the sky. By then it was apparent that the clouds were not dissipating. In fact, they were building and gaining density while transitioning from cotton ball white to various shades of gray. This is when we decided to set up Bills awning. We delayed doing so because this task requires some effort. Bills awning is not one of those cheap E-Z-Up Saturday afternoon at the soccer game awnings. This thing is a well-made heavy duty 10-foot by 10-foot by 8-foot-tall awning with attachable exterior walls! We set it up with 3 exterior walls in place, leaving the front open for egress and view. In addition, we staked it down and attached 4 guy-lines (one to each leg.) Bill also added small LED Lights to each guy-line to help us see them at night and help prevent a potential tripping situation (smart move!) Next, we filled the enclosure with a table our camp chairs and finally a propane powered portable fire ring! Talk about luxury!!

About an hour after setting up the awning while milling about camp we heard the first faint rumblings of thunder. It came from up canyon in the backcountry, echoing off the canyon walls as it worked its way down canyon in our direction. It seemed more like a warning than a threat, but it got our attention. A few minutes after the thunder it began to lightly sprinkle. Random tiny drops spaced several seconds apart. The tiny drops provided a cool tickling sensation as they landed upon my face and produced a “ticking” sound as they ricocheted off my rain jacket. Gradually the intensity increased, changing from sprinkles to a light rain and then to a heavy downpour.

Thunder, apparently from a closer cell. Louder with a lingering throaty rumble. The kind of thunder that makes small children cry and dogs cower shaking with fear. No visible lightning, but the rainfall intensity was incredible. Under the awning we were dry and actually enjoying the show. I saw no discomfort or uneasiness in Bills body language which made me think that he was enjoying this as much as I was. We played cards and listened to some good country music while enjoying a couple more adult beverages. The rain continued to thunder down resulting in obvious runoff. Luckily, we did a good job reading the land prior to setting up camp and nothing was in harm's way (especially NOT my tent.)

As the day began its transition into early evening the rain let up to the point that we decided that we could make an early dinner without having to relocate our kitchen into the enclosure of the awning.

Light rain fell off and on until we turned in. It picked up a bit as I settled into my tent. This brought a smile to my face. I very much enjoy falling asleep in my tent (or even at home) to the sound of rainfall hitting the roof above me.

The next day we both woke totally rejuvenated. We delt with light on and off again rain all day.

A couple hours before sunset we saw the first signs that the storm was beginning to break up.

I made the picture above to celebrate the passing of the storm.

Here’s to experience, preparation, good gear and an appreciation for a good storm!

Here's a picture of the awning - iPhone Photo by Bill


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