February 26, 2017
I came across this photo today. I'll never forget this moment or the night spent here. Experience, or lack of, is always the greatest teacher. I had been on trail for several days and I was backpacking solo. I had encountered a few bears and happily dodged a few afternoon rain showers. An impressive monsoonal weather pattern had been hitting the Sierra Nevada and I walked right into it that evening right here at 9,800ft.
I set up my little pup-tent at the base of some big granite as daylight left and the first round of explosive lightning hit. It was acrid and deafening and I was terrified. Winds ripped through and flattened my tent. Then came the hail, and the rain, larger hail, heavier rain, and constant lightning and thunder. This went on all night. I sat inside my tent holding up where the guy-lines failed, while mopping up puddles of water with my bandana. I tried my hardest to remember lightning safety but my fear made me forget. I was certain my minutes were numbered with each strike during that long night.
I learned that water flows fast down granite and sits like a stopped up sink at the same time I learned my tent wasn't waterproof...not even water resistant. I learned that a headlamp is best kept on ones head, rather than in a pocket where it can fall out and be lost in darkness. I learned that sleep can eventually come wrapped in a wet sleeping bag even when the night sky is ripping open and hell is breaking loose. All ended well, obviously. I emerged from my tent at the first creep of daylight, packed up my wet gear and headed south.
Looks like I'll be back around these parts about the same time this year. I've upgraded some gear since...and I haven't forgotten.