My husband and I (more or less) met backpacking, so we know how to pack for camping. I’ve packed for all of my needs for multiple days in twenty-five pounds stuffed into my beloved (and heavy!) external frame backpack. Toilet paper rolls removed, toothbrushes broken in half to reduce weight–yes, that’s me. Yet I ended up raincoat-less and wet at Lake Wenatchee last weekend.
Our first camping trip in Washington since we moved here! To say we were thrilled is an understatement. N kept asking when we were leaving to camp. I carefully checked the weather: 92-97 degrees with zero percent chance of rain. Summer arrives in WA! Woo hoo! So when I packed I was rather reckless. I packed shorts, t-shirts, one long sleeve shirt, one pair of pants, and one fleece/sweater per person. At the very last-minute I threw in a pair of jeans for me, as I tend to run cold, and grabbed Tom’s jacket, which was sitting on the railing by the door. I made sure to grab sunscreen and bug repellent, not rain coats. Because there was a zero percent chance of rain.
Our first night was as we expected–comfortably warm and a bit buggy. But we ate no-cook tomato olive sauce pasta/meatballs and cinnamon apples. The next day we played at the beach. It was cooler than expected, but I didn’t think much of it until I saw clouds. These were not white, cotton, puffy clouds. They were dark clouds, and we intermittently heard thunder. Hmm. I began calculations: we had Tom’s raincoat, a poncho, and a trash bag we could turn into a poncho as needed. I realized I shrunk my wool sweater in the dryer, so now it had 3/4 length sleeves and was too short. But the skies cleared, and we built a fire for dinner. Then it started raining. R asked if she could eat in the tent. Suddenly, Tom was trying to prevent food scraps in sleeping bags, and I was roasting hot dogs and marshmallows in pouring rain, praying the fire would stay lit. I was laughing.
There were many years that this snapshot would have horrified me, making me feel like I had failed miserably that I failed to obtain my Norman Rockwell-esque picture of my family roasting marshmallows for s’mores, faces aglow from the fire. I would have felt shame that it didn’t work out perfectly. Instead, I grinned and I ran melting marshmallows from the fire to the tent, dripping from head to toe. This, this is the stuff of memories. I’m so thankful to claim them as they are.
The fire managed to stay lit until the rain stopped. Tom and I sat close in soggy chairs and read until bedtime, warmed by the coals. This, too, was the stuff I long to remember with laughter. But I did also write myself a mental note: always bring rain gear.