Posted by: Jacob Crawford | October 10, 2011

Just a Hike in the Rain…

I went camping last weekend in Gold Head State Park with my brother Caleb and some of his Boy Scout troop. We apparently forgot to check the weather because it began raining only a few hours after we got the tents set up. Since we were going to help with the spooky guided night tour anyway, we decided to stick out the wind and rain and hope for the best. Unfortunately the rain only got harder and the wind began to blow. We were managing to stay mostly dry, but the wind was going straight through our rain jackets and ponchos. Being the Boy Scouts, Caleb and his buddies got a fire going with some dry wood that we have brought with us and we cooked some hot supper. I don’t think beef stew ever tastes as good as it does when I’m camping, especially as chilled as I was. After we ate dinner it was still light and the rain had let up a little so a few of us decided to take a short hike down one of the loop trails. We had been away from the camp for about thirty minutes when it seemed like someone hit a switch and the wind and rain suddenly became significantly worse. I was in the rear as we turned around and began to head back when I heard an explosive cracking sound. I turned to look behind me and saw a pine tree blow over across the trail where we had just been! It’s roots stuck out of the ground like some kind of tortured insect as the now fallen branches continued to wave in the wind.

Greg Garrard writes that, “if the sublime required a degree of terror to induce the requisite spiritual or even political be-wilderment, it would always be vulnerable to technological and cultural change” (73). I had plenty of terror to share after that experience and no technology could have made me any less vulnerable if that tree had actually landed on me. However, I listened to and felt the wind and the rain with a new awe after that unexpected encounter. I kept thinking about the stories of Old Testament miracles from the Bible and about how powerful and awesome God is. I truly felt as though I had a kind of spiritual epiphany, that I was not as important as I had thought; I suddenly felt small, weak, and vulnerable. It was truly frightening.

We talked about what had happened back at the camp, and I felt like I was looked at with a kind of perverse envy. Why would one of these kids want to experience that feeling of narrowly escaping being squashed? Then I realized that that was the same kind of attitude that I would have had if I had not actually experienced that demonstration of the awesome power of God’s creation. I kept jumping when the trees around us would groan in the wind; I was not looking forward to bedtime. I have a good tent, but a little piece of fabric and some aluminum wouldn’t save me from a multi-ton tree. Needless to say I didn’t sleep much that night.

We ended up packing up the next morning and heading home. The guided tour had been canceled due to the weather, so there was no point in us staying out in the mud. I’ve seen the Smokey Mountains from an observation tower at night; I’ve been on the beach during a hurricane; I’ve even gone snow-skiing the morning after a blizzard, but nothing quite compares to that sublime experience.



  1. Aw, my son was out at Camp Shands with his cub scout troop in the Nor-eastern dreary weather. All I kept thinking is “he must be miserable.” Turns out that the wet and mud most likely heightened his sense of the trip with his dad and will probably be a potent memory. He loved roughing it with dad. Being out in elements of nature we are not normally accustomed to certainly to open our eyes and ears to experience it in a different (memorable) way.

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