Day 40 – Saturday, July 6
Layover Mammoth Cave National Park
76° Rain until 1 p.m. then Overcast, Humid of course
Beginning at 7:30 last evening the rain came down hard. It drove me in the tent. With light and moderate rain I would walk around the campsite from tree to tree feeling for the least rainy area. Stand there a while and then move on. At 7:30 that recreation ceased.
I knew I would be asleep in ten minutes if I started to read. The problem is waking at some unknown hour I hope is 6 a.m. but I know will be 11:30. Will I get back to sleep? That’s the mental game I play while camping.
This night I was awakened by white light from the sky, through my tent walls, and through my eyelids. I knew it was lightening. A moment later all went black, then a second after that a huge clap of thunder rocked the woods. It was going to be a terrible night. I braced myself. We’ve been having steady rain, but no wind, now all that was going to change.
Except it didn’t. There was no more lightening or thunder. However, the rain came down in torrents. It pounded the tent walls inches from my ears. Splatter collected on the screens and inside the rainfly. The next wave of rain knocked it inside. Sometimes I felt water, sometimes I just imagined it. Either way, this wasn’t a dream. I was awake.
The one and only remedy is to raise the interior walls that cover the screens. The higher the walls the less air circulation and the warmer you are. In this case I would also be drier. Despite my dire description, the night was delightful in its cataclysmic way. I went back to sleep, woke a few times and checked for flooding, none occurred, and went back to pleasant dreams.
Surveying other campsites in the morning, I saw that many sat in puddles. The ground was saturated. My tent was smeared from splash but my selection of a high site saved me from floating away. The tent interior was very damp. My bedding was damp. Two daddy-longlegs sat high up in the netting at the top of the tent, dry but perplexed at the world they found themselves in. I lay looking up at them, damp, but contented. Scamping at its basics.
It continued to rain lightly in the morning and finally stopped around one. I decided to stay through Sunday night and leave on Monday, which the great weather predictor says will be partially sunny. I walked back to the campsite about two and made a good faith effort at drying everything out. I took the rainfly off and stretched it out in the parking area. Then I unloaded the tent of everything. There were pools of water in two low corners and under the sleeping mat.
I wiped everything down. Next, I unpegged the tent and took it to the drive to lay on its side exposing the bottom to fresh air. I picked up the soggy and very dirty ground cloth and took it to a faucet 50 yards away. There I rinsed it clean of all grime, shook it out, then took it to my parking area and spread it out to air. I wiped it down, turned it over and wiped the other side. I wiped down the rainfly. Lastly, I wiped the tent, bottom and sides. The rain held off. I spread the now clean & dry ground cloth, set the tent on top of it, pegged it down, and placed the clean rainfly on top. It looked fresh out of the store.
I spread my cotton sheet on top of the tent to air. It was damp from sweat. The sleeping mat–the single item that makes all this tolerable–was damp on the bottom, it had been laying in water. I wiped it down, aired it out, and placed it back in the tent. I returned all the incidental items back in the tent. It looked new and fresh.
The rain has not returned and a smattering of sun burns through. Tonight I will listen to a presentation on the Civilian Conservation Corps, then return to a clean pleasant tent for a good nights sleep. Pleasant dreams scampers.