Are You Ready for the Unexpected When Camping?
One of the biggest challenges to any camping trip is how to cope with the unexpected. It's almost a sure-fire guarantee that you will encounter at least one snafu, one annoyance or one misstep that will force you to adapt or compensate. Trust me when I say this, and I say it from personal experience, you always want to be prepared in order to minimize the impact these little problems can have on your trip.
Caught in the Rain
I remember an impromptu camping trip that we took in the Arizona mountains while we were visiting family. It was summertime, just before the monsoon season was expected to start, and there hasn't been a cloud in the sky for a week. We spontaneously decided to load up our gear and spend a couple of days in the higher elevations in order to enjoy nature and some cooler temperatures.
There were a lot of people in our group, kids and adults alike, and there were not enough tents to go around to comfortably accommodate everyone. Kids were piled into pup tents like sardines so the adults could pair off and enjoy some privacy. I elected to sleep in the car with the dog.
In the middle of the night, we were hit with an unexpected thunderstorm that not only produced a lot of rain, but high winds as well. People frantically tried to gather what they could and pile into their respective vehicles. Not only was the wind and rain wreaking havoc on our site, but the runoff from nearby slopes started to flood the tents. Everything from clothing and gear to our cooking equipment and food supply was soaked or scattered all over the place. We spent the better part of the next day drying out and trying to gather our items, some of which were found around a hundred feet away.
While I was fortunate enough to be high-and-dry in the car, almost everyone else was rudely-awakened by the storm and had to deal with trying to keep their tents together while staying dry at the same time. However, one of my friends brought a camping hammock with, and he managed to ride out the storm unscathed as well.
All he needed to do was cocoon himself in the material and tighten the tarp that was draped overhead. Since his gear was in his truck, he was no worse for wear the next morning as well. Unfortunately, since we were the most-rested out of the group, we were also cajoled into contributing more than our fair share during the cleanup effort.
What's Your Plan B?
Aside from the fact that we should have checked the weather before we were heading out, we were also ill-equipped as a group to have a good backup plan in place. Consequently, we lost the better part of a day putting our site back together instead of hiking, fishing and playing games. If we had a plan B, chances are that the storm would have had less of an impact on how we ended up starting the trip.
This is just one example of a million-and-one unforeseen issues that we will encounter in the field from time to time. Make sure that you're ready for the unexpected, and allow some flexibility to adapt as necessary in order to avoid becoming frustrated, disappointed or even injured as a result.