It started innocently enough. My wife and I, along with a good friend, were going on an overnight backpacking trip in late July. We got dropped off by a friend and were going to walk back to our home over a two-day period, covering a distance of about eighteen miles. The goal for the night was a beautiful lake about eight miles away; a piece of cake.

Did I mention it was late July? And about ninety-five degrees, and about the same percentage of humidity, making everything seem more difficult. As we walked through the woods with our packs weighing us down, the sweat ran off us in rivers. We were drenched and it was truly a grueling walk in that heat. One of us mentioned that a rain shower would probably feel good. Soon the sky began to darken. The clouds blocking the sun did not however lessen the temperature, in fact it seemed like it was getting hotter and more humid. And now we began to climb. It was a tough slog but after a while we neared the top and it was there that we first heard the rain splattering the leaves at the top of the canopy. A few reached the ground and even fewer seemed to hit us. We were thrilled to have the prospect of a nice cooling rain. We should have known better.

Soon the rain began to increase in volume and we began to get wet. It felt great. Then it seemed to change to big fat drops splattering all about. When one hit you, it felt like someone had dumped a glass of water on you. We began to cool off as we got wet and it felt so good. The humidity seemed to increase though. Soon we heard thunder and saw lightning. This was getting to be a very cool experience. Merrily we continued on our way, as the rain came down in increasing amounts. After about half an hour, we were soaked but still happy. It was still warm enough that we were not cold from the rain but I noticed that the rain was increasing in intensity.

Soon it was a downpour. Still we trudged along, soaked but cooler and happy not to be sweating gallons. After about another ten minutes, the downpour became a deluge and the fun began to fade. It was hard to walk. The trail was a mess and getting DEEP. And then to my surprise, it began to rain even harder. I could barely see ten feet in front of me, and the rain was pounding down. We had rain gear with us but had decided to forgo using it because it was so hot and the rain felt so good. And now it was too late. We were soaked. I decided we needed to seek shelter.

The only place that presented itself was a narrow overhang next to the trail. It was about two feet wide and water was running over the edge, but if you went through the torrent flowing over the edge there was a dry spot underneath. And there was just enough room for three people and their gear. In we went. And it was dry. We weren’t dry but we were not getting wet anymore and that was good. We made ourselves comfortable and began to wait out the rain.

Well, after about ten minutes we began to get uncomfortable. We had to crouch and press our back to the wall to stay dry and it was just a pain to stay in the narrow dry area and not get wet. The rain was still pounding down with no sign of a let up. We waited some more. We shifted our weight. We told jokes, and about twenty minutes later the rain began to increase. Where it had been pounding down in an unrelenting torrent before it, now seemed like a Noah-worthy event. We had to shout to hear each other and we had to press further into our hideout to stay dry. We watched in amazement as the water rained down. And then it got worse. Harder and harder it came down. It was so loud we stopped talking to each other because we could not hear what anyone was saying.

That was when my wife said it. She really had no idea about tempting fate so she said in all innocence, “I don’t think it could rain any harder”. Actually she shouted it. Neither I, nor our friend, had time to register our utter horror at her statement, because the echo had not yet faded when the rain did rain harder, exponentially harder. I think the Rain God heard her and decided to fix her wagon. It was like someone had thrown a switch. A switch that could have been labeled, INSTANT FLOOD. Our little hideaway was overrun with water in the blink of an eye, and we had to grab our packs and move on.

The rain did eventually stop about an hour later. I suppose she could have said something worse, like “At least it’s not snow”. I shudder to think what could have happened then. We did get to the lake where we dried everything out. The humidity was gone soon after the rain left, and the weather turned cooler and very nice. Our friend counseled my wife about famous last words and how you should never tempt fate. She is much more cautious now.

Roger Williamson

aka thetentman

– Joined Campmor 1992
– Worked the Retail floor for 12 years, Tent Dept Head, Current – Asst. Tent Buyer, Book, Map, DVD, and Hammock Buyer
– Avid hiker, backpacker and camper
Appalachian Trail Section Hiker and Trail Angel
– Absolutely love tents but in an effort to lighten my load I have switched to tarps in the last 10 years
– Member: New York New Jersey Trail Conference, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Charter member Appalachian Trail Museum
– Married 25 years, 1 daughter