Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Lightning at the Hole-In-The-Wall Hideout

I was just trying to find a free camp site on BLM land for tomorrow's points when I made the most amazing discovery of these beautiful red cliffs contrasted against blue patches of ponderosa pine on grassy hills. Even better is that this place was once the Hole-In-The-Wall hideout for some of the Old West's most notorious outlaws. Well my little car got stuck on a rock going up to the actual hideout, then almost rolled off a cliff in neutral when I jumped out to see what was wrong. For a split second I thought I would get a much needed truck, I'm very well insured.

I can still feel the excitement though as I imagine the outlaws riding their horses fast up between the cliffs and I can hear their stolen cattle in the moos of the black angus cows grazing here down the canyon. The wind came around sunset when I was trying to set up my tent, I had to use my heavy wood carved bear again but it wasn't enough so I put my heavy bag of canned goods in another corner to keep it from blowing off the nearby cliff. The beautiful red cliffs were hidden in the dark somewhere, and everything felt so grim. I tried to remember the peaceful place I had experienced a few hours earlier. A vesper sparrow sang his heart out still in the dark, and a sweet smell of flowers drifted in from somewhere. The tent was violently shaking until somehow I blocked out the noise and drifted off to sleep.

A bright flash woke me out of a dream of being covered in ticks in the middle of the night, I could hear it now raining with the pitter-patter of drops hitting my rain fly. Lightning! Having not seen lightning since I was a kid in Texas, I never even considered it when I put my tent up under the dense gray clouds that hovered above me. I started shaking with fear, here I was laying on the ground with just a tent and some bedding in between me and the wet grass and mud, and the only place I could set up my tent was on a bare hill. Even worse I parked my car next to my tent to block some of the wind rolling off the cliffs. There was another flash, and about five seconds later I heard thunder, the lightning was just one mile away up in the sky right over me. I grabbed my cowboy boots out of the corner of my tent and put them on, then crouched in my tent with just the rubber soles touching the ground. I could hear my heart quicken with fear as I looked for my keys in the tent side pocket, then waited for another flash before I ran to my car. Flash! One one thousand...two one thousand...five one thousand BOOM! I struggled to unzip my tent then ran for it, rain soaking into the sweatshirt I always for to bed for extra warmth. I turned the key and Lady Gaga started singing bringing me instant comfort as my little car rolled down the slick red roads out of there. I had to leave the tent, I might have been hit by lightning if I took it down. I hoped it wouldn't blow away without me in it.

Kaycee is a small cow town, so the 2 motels (one in an actual trailer the other a run down house) and cabin site were all closed around 1am in the morning. I had no choice but to sleep in my car at the local truck parking area with several semi-truck diesel engines purring around me. I pulled out the human mace from my job gift bag, and considered the bear mace but figured human mace would be enough to give a trouble making trucker something to worry about. I put my butterfly covered sun shields in the front car window to block out some of the glaring light in my closed eyes, and was glad I am so over prepared and had extra blankets and another pillow in my trunk. It was a rough night, but the next morning my tent was still there on the hill, and not burning in some kind of lightning fire or blown off the cliff. I was going to take it down, but my sleeping bag looked so comfy inside. I was proud of my little tent for keeping everything water free in the thunderstorm. I crawled into my bed, and realized with some joy that my tent really was my home. I had several hours of restful sleep that morning.

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