Sunday, May 3, 2009
Knowing when to bail
Last night, we were to camp out in the Dallas area with my Indian Princess group. We had our whole family, all 6 of us, plus one more. My daughter was to graduate from the Indian Princesses and go on to be a Red Feather Princess. We couldn't miss it. I loaded up two vehicles with tents, sleeping bags and essentials for one night out. It had been storming off and on for a couple of days and more was headed our way. Again, we couldn't miss the graduation. We got to the campground and all the kids began playing until the first big wave came in. Everyone ducked and covered in vehicles and under the dining structures. A short 10-15 minute heavy downpour came through and left. Thanks to today's technology, we all were checking animated radar to see when the next one would come in.
The storms looked like they were going to miss us for a while and it looked clear behind that. My son and his friend were antsy to set their tent up, so I caved and my son, his friend and I started putting up our family tents (3 of them). We got two of them up and decided we'd stop there and just see how it goes. He was extremely proud of himself quickly erecting his home for the night.
By 5pm, it was time for the evening activities of food preparation for the tribe. A couple of Braves and their Princesses were sent out to judge the food preparation and presentation of other tribes. During this time, another 10-15 minute heavy downpour came through. We fought our way back to our tribe to find everyone huddled underneath whatever structure they could find and enjoying eating the great grub prepared by the tribal chef. There's not a whole lot better than eating outdoors, especially grilled chicken and pork chops.
After that storm, the Nation ended up cancelling the evening's events and graduation ceremonies. It was at that point that my wife and I made the executive decisions to pack it in. Most of the kids were ok with it, as they were soaked to the bone and the temperature was falling. My two littlest ones were a bit dissappointed. My wife has a great saying. "It is better to leave wanting more than to stay and wishing it was over". It may seem painful at times to leave, but sometimes you are better off licking your wounds and heading home. We still had a great time while we were there and in the end, we were safe and warm at home, together.
While this was a simple car camping trip, this holds true in backcountry adventures as well. Ask some of the extreme adventurers and mountaineers how many times they were within hundreds of feet of the summit and turned back for safety reasons. If your gut tells you that it might be time to high-tail it out, you might want to listen. The spot you were trying to reach will be there next time, wouldn't you really like to have the opportunity to come back and still have that desire to do it again?