The moss hanging in sheets from the trees is a dead giveaway that sunshine is a foreign element, but still, we blythely plan each Labor Day family campout to be held at Baker Lake in the Cascade Mountains about 45 minutes east of where we live.
Every three or four years, we get lucky and have warm, sunny weather. Usually we have at least one day of rain. But, even on the grayest of days, the vine maple trees carry their own inner light with their chartreuse-green leaves.
This last Labor Day, we had the mother of all downpours, but it was a great weekend, and we made some lasting memories. Here are things we've learned through the years about camping in the rain:
1. Bring plenty of changes of clothes for the little ones, and make sure they have rubber boots. Then turn them loose and let them play.
2. Don't trust that your rain fly will keep your tent dry. Add a tarp on top of it, but suspend the tarp from lines strung overhead, because if your tent isn't ventilated, it will get wet from condensation.
3. Ditch around your tent, and build dikes if you have to. Even the slightest of inclines can allow water to migrate to your tent from far away, and there's nothing worse than waking up at night in a wet sleeping bag.
4. Make sure you have a tarp under your tent so water can't wick up from the ground.
5. If you have a large group, have a couple of campfires so people can huddle around for warmth without blocking the heat for others.
6. String tarps over the fire--but of course, keep them high enough so they can't be melted by the flames. We had a 26 x 40 tent over the 'common' area, which included food prep, eating & campfire .
7. Invest in a catalytic heater. These little propane-fired, radiant, personal-size heaters are great to warm up someone who got chilled by being out in the rain. Two people can share by setting it between them and putting a blanket over their laps to captue the heat. Or, set it under a table while you're playing a board game.
8. Wear a knit hat and dry socks.
With a little preparation, you'll be humming that old Barry Manilow song, "I Made it Through the Rain" as you watch the campground empty out prematurely.
Follow this blog! Coming soon is Navajo Tacos and sopapillas. And maybe a posting on Dutch Oven Cooking. Stick around. I like having you check in every now and then.