3,000+ feet of elevation gain in less than 5 miles...good stuff there! That was a pretty intense little jaunt with a big pack, but well worth it. Uphill is much more fun than downhill anyway, in my opinion. Also, I was in a crazy rush to get to the backcountry site because of some gnarly clouds hovering around. Really didn't have the desire to be stuck on the side of a mountain, all exposed and stuff, ya know?
Saw a peregrine falcon on the way up, lots of little cacti and flowers too. Gorgeous trail. We set up the tents when we got to the top, it rained for a couple hours but when it stopped there was still enough daylight for a good hike.
Then it was time to make dinner. While this was happening, it started sprinkling. Some lightening. A little thunder. Still far away, no fretting. Yet.
Around 8 30 pm is when my freak out started to unleash itself. It lasted for just under 5 hours, until around 1 am. I'm not totally sure how to convey just how horrified I was. There was a pretty serious meltdown. (it was a good thing Melissa's tent was 100 feet away or so, because it would have been awfully embarrassing if anyone had witnessed the crazy was happening in my tent)
I've seen some kickass storms. I've had wind and rain tear down tents and break two different sets of tent poles. I've spent plenty of time in crappy weather, had to shove myself into two different overhangs while hiking because of lightening storms. I've had all the hair stand up on my body because of extremely close lightening strikes, been knocked over by wind, mild hypothermia, the list goes on.
That stuff was nothing compared to this. Almost 5 hours of continuous lightening. Not the pretty stuff that just goes across the sky, the kind that was hitting the ground all around you, taunting and laughing at you. The furthest away it ever got was 4 miles. The closest it got was RIGHT THERE. It just hung around that entire time. 5 hours. There was some seriously unhealthy things happening in my tent during this time. (Like rocking and shaking, lots of hyperventilating, crying of course, singing the same 3 Peter, Paul, and Mary songs over and over and over again all while lying as flat and spread out as I could, barely moving - minus the uncontrollable shaking).
I started to write in my journal but then came to the conclusion that was pointless, since I was apparently about to die. So I actually considered writing letters to my family. Yeah, really, it was that bad. The thunder was painfully loud and the lightening was brutally bright.
I should mention that the highest point in Texas was just a stone's throw away, more or less, at 8751 feet. We were at about 8400. I debated at one point, when the storm was 4 miles off, to just leave the tent and run down the trail 5-6 miles in the middle of the night and rain. (Unwise, I know). Then thought about just going down in elevation to the more forested area but that would for sure have resulted in some serious navigation issues (and probably being impaled by agave).
Around 1 am (actually, it was 12 53) is when the lightening finally started to die off. Then the downpour started. It had been raining the whole time but not like this. My 6 year old tent started to leak like crazy and it felt like I was on a waterbed because there was ~2 inches of water underneath the tent. I got pretty soaked inside, along with my bag and pad, but I really didn't care at that point. I was just glad to be freaking breathing normally.
I've had some sketchy experiences but they were all generally short lived. Up to this point, there were two (one in particular) mountain lion encounters that were at the top of that list. There was also an issue on the Mexico border in West Texas that was rather disturbing. Nope. The 5 hour lightening storm that wanted me dead has been moved to the top. (The next day I actually saw a mountain lion hiking down the canyon, about 60 feet from me. I didn't even flinch. I'll take the big cats over the bolts, please). Scenic Sunday SOOC My World