KittyKamping at Locket Meadow
This year marked the 10 year anniversary of our tradition of going camping in Lockett Meadow in the fall. Ten years ago, this was started with Cora when she went to NAU in Flagstaff and we first discovered the fall foliage there. Ordinarily we go in October, around Shay’s birthday, but this time we went over the 3 day weekend due to scheduling issues and Karen’s birthday. Karen is one of the Bewilderknits girls.
This year, we reminisced about many foibles of previous camping excursions and Cora (another Bewilderknits girl) commented, “Do any of our camping trips ever go completely smoothly?” Not really. This year followed that tradition. On morning number 1, just after breakfast, I spun up 4 ounces of yarn on my new drop spindle and waited for Shay to come back. He ran an errand – to drive to a place with cell phone signal to call others joining us and ask them to bring beans and firewood. The previous night we’d stayed alone, on Thursday night, and it had thunderstormed BIG TIME – lightning flashed through the tent walls and I would say “One-one-thousand,” and the earth beneath us shook our bodies in our bed. Thunder was rolling from the left to the right just above us across the sky. It was a real stormchaser’s dream. Our tent, which in 5+ years, has never been really put through an honest water-resistance test (we’re in Arizona, after all) handled the rain really well that night. We were pleased to wake up to sunny weather and only really needing beans and dry firewood.
Shay returned and when we went to cook breakfast, we realized we actually had plenty of beans and what we really needed was eggs. But it was too much work to make another trip for a phone call, so we made do with a giant burrito. Since we’d heard about the storms, we also had purchased and set up, for the first time ever, a 10 x 10′ tent with open walls, specifically for rain coverage. We even moved around the picnic table the day before so that everything would stay dry. Shay said “I have a feeling rain is coming again,” because we could see the gray fog moving in across the trees in the distance. I started calling this ominous fog “Gorillas in the Mist” because it kept proving over and over to be a forewarning of huge, thundering rain.
As we sat under the tent, it began pouring rain – a serious downpour. I threw a cheap rain parka on over myself because we began getting soaked even under the tent. Then the rain turned into icy hail – then the hail turned into simply giant balls of ice. Huge ice balls were falling everywhere, bouncing off of whatever they originally landed on and landing somewhere else. Shay held a plastic cup out for a few seconds and captured half a cup full of ice balls, even though most of them bounced out of the cup.
Then the water began coming through our campsite down the hill. Lockett Meadow is inside the center of an old caldera, a meadow surrounded by tall trees on hills the climb uphill on all sides. Campsites are on the edges of these hills, and water began pouring down and forming small rivers and then waterfalls at various locations through our campsite. We were pleased to see that the waterfalls were on the outer edges of our picnic table, and then realized a river was created going underneath the corner of our tent. Shay ran out in the hail with a shovel and dug a new manmade river re-routing the water away from our tent. I was amazed to see that eventually the water even climbed slightly uphill to go back downhill. All of this water met up at the main road surrounding Lockett Meadow and became a rushing river leading to the watering hole.
Shay was soaked to the bone, and his head was hurting from being pelted by big ice balls too. We sought protection inside the tent – amazingly it was barely leaking at all. As long as we didn’t touch the walls we were fine. It was a good thing we’d saved our tent’s instruction manual – we actually read it while setting it up this time and learned that as long as you don’t touch the walls, your tent will be a more effective umbrella for you.
We laid in bed for at least 3 hours just waiting out the storm. We learned that if we touched the floor of the tent, which was made out of tarp material, it just felt like touching the surface of a waterbed, and made our hands damp. I said worst case scenario, we stay on the air mattress and float up to the ceiling with it until something gives and then keep floating around on it as a floatation device.
Eventually the rain stopped, and we knew it for certain when the birds began chirping again. We came outside and realized it looked like we were sleeping inside a beer cooler. The ground was covered in little ice balls of hail, some places were 8 inches deep of hail. It began to melt and absorb into the ground so quickly, because the soil there is so different than it is in Phoenix. When Karen & Cora arrived, the first thing they said was “Why didn’t you tell us when you called us that it was SNOWING?!” The drive up had been full of storms and cars pulled over on the side of the road, and then it looked like everything was lined with snow from the road. They had to step in the ice balls themselves to realize it was just hail.
Later on, our friends Judith and Robert arrived. They had gotten lost – even though Judith proved herself to be ready for the End Times. I started calling her End Times Judith when she kept on proving herself to be more ready for strandedness than anyone else was. She offered us tamales and gloves and an extra tarp to cover firewood with. Robert went crazy chatting us up about his awesome latest cooking toy, and school. They’d intended to “spend the day” with us, but didn’t arrive until a couple hours before sunset. We were just thrilled that anyone even showed up! We’d said to each other “No one is coming.” It was outstandingly fun to have such a crowd to hang out with.
That night was pretty chilly in the tent, I felt like a small creature sleeping inside a very giant icy styrofoam cup. But the weather warmed up the next day – the leaves hadn’t even turned green there yet, after all – and we spent the whole day outside knitting and chatting and playing with the camera. On the last night, perhaps because it had been soaking in water on the ground, our air mattress completely went flat. For once, we hadn’t overpacked, so we had nothing extra to try to sleep on. Shay said, “I know, let’s go to a hotel.” I was more than happy to jump on board. We drove into town for a good night’s sleep the last night, before driving back in the morning to pack up. Karen and Cora stayed behind and wrote a list for future trips including “Bring an extra air mattress.” One day we’ll get it right, whatever right is. Until then, I guess we’ll just keep going and knitting through the days, playing with our flashlights in the dark, and cameras.
On that note, here are some pictures of Lockett Meadow. When I googled for some images of Lockett Meadow last year, I could barely find anything. I’ve no idea why, because it’s so picturesque. I’m so happy that after all these years, we finally have a camera that has the capacity to portray what this place really looks like. Here are some of my favorites from the trip this year.