We kicked off the 2021 Camping Season at Lathrop State Park. In the photo below, the sun has just set and Aspen and I are about to bring the pups inside the tents with us. The cloud-covered tops of Colorado’s Spanish Peaks can be seen in the background.

Lathrop State Park

The first trip of the season is always a dry run – bust out all the gear, do inventory, fix what needs fixing, etc. This is the first time we’ve been tent camping since we decided to ditch the camp trailer and get back to real camping. But some “dry run” it turned out to be.

The photo above was taken during the only respite we had. As soon as we arrived at the site and started setting up the big tent, gale force winds came barreling through like the bulls of Pamplona. As soon I hammered in the stakes, all of us had to get in the tent and stand with our backs against the walls, pushing against the bowing tent poles in an effort to keep the walls from collapsing in on us.

After an hour of this chaos the wind died down, long enough for me to start a fire, grill some food, and do some s’mores for the kids. We enjoyed a colorful sunset and it wasn’t long after nightfall before we were all curled in our sleeping bags.

Coop wanted to sleep in his own tent, so he took Ridge with him and they stayed in the REI Half Dome.

Everything was peaceful until midnight. Then it all exploded at once. Thunder, lightning, rain, wind – for the next several hours this barrage kept hammering us. Just after 3 AM I noticed a bit of water pooling underneath my sleeping bag. It was coming from underneath the tent. The water wasn’t draining from the gravel pad our tent was on, instead it was pooling everywhere underneath us. I knew it was only a matter of time before the whole floor was soaked.

Chels began to stir about 6 AM. She didn’t sleep too well but at least she was dry. Aspen, in her own bag next to Chels, was still sleeping soundly as was Indy, who was on the opposite side of the tent from me. We checked the weather forecast, which called for snow and a significant drop in temps within a few hours. It would remain like this all day and night and into the following day. And there we were with SUPs, kayaks, floaties and flip-flops.

It was still raining steadily and getting colder. The last thing I wanted to do was go out in it. But I knew we had to bail pronto. I tossed on my boots and rain jacket and got outside and started hustling.

Chels eased the kids into our situation. Indy was relieved, especially when she found wet spots underneath her sleeping pad. Cooper and Ridge didn’t do so well in the Half Dome. Coop didn’t know to close the vents on the roof of his rainfly, so water pretty much dribbled into his tent all night. He stayed warm and dry in his sleeping bag, however, and didn’t know anything was wrong until I woke him up. Ridge, on the other hand, was soaked. Poor guy. Good thing he loves water.

Once the kids and pups were inside the trucks, Chels and I quickly tore down the tents and shoved everything, sopping wet, inside the trucks. It only took us about thirty minutes but by the end we were drenched and shivering. We were in the trucks with heaters blasting by 8 AM. It was a long hour and a half drive home.

Other than the weather being crazy and the trip being cut short, the mission was successful in regards to purpose. We brought all the gear we needed and tested it out in inclement weather. Everything works. Nothing needs to be fixed or purchased. We did forget a few minor things, like socks (ahem, cough-cough, Indy). And I forgot the doggone GoPro – which means I couldn’t film hardly anything in the stormy weather. I did catch some footage when we had that brief window of peace – and for that, I created this short video:

Until the next trip – Happy Trails!

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