Rocky Mountain National Park
When we listen to our children’s prayers at night while camping, we hear a prayer for dry weather. My husband and I always add one of our own. Rain can make damp forests. And damp mountains. And damp campers. And damp…well, you get the idea.
Our children are fine with all that. Most of the time. What they can’t understand is when the campground pool is closed because of a rain storm. The pool is a favorite activity of theirs.
“We’re wet anyway,” our seven-year-old would complain. “Why can’t we play in the pool?”
It’s all about the severity of the rain storm and if there’s thunder. No one should be in the pool or a large body of water during a thunderstorm. No one.
You should also not be on top of bald rock during a lightning storm. When hiking with children, you need to be prepared.
When we visited the tundra, the bald rocky crown, of Rocky Mountain National Park, the park ranger opened his daily talks with, “Make sure you’re off the tundra by 3 p.m. because thunderstorms seem to hit precisely at 3.”
Interesting, we thought. We wanted to see that!
We hike on marked trails only, always a good idea when hiking with children. Our hikes took place in the morning and early afternoon. We needed to allow time for the children to play in the pool at the campground before dinner, barring any thunderstorms of course.
At Rocky Mountain National Park, we hiked from the visitors’ center at a lower elevation, up onto the tundra, but we made sure we were back at the visitors’ center by 3.
As a family who doesn’t watch a clock when we camp and hike, we still knew the hour was approaching 3 p.m. It was like watching a movie.
Clouds gathered and broiled. They darkened the sky and blotted out the sun. A wind climbed up and over the peaks and howled down upon us.
Even our young children, who loved to be farther along the trail than their parents, raced back to cower against us. We needed to be inside the visitors’ center by the time hail, mixed with rain, began pelting anything in sight.
Suddenly, the sky lit brilliantly in craggy, jolting lines. Darkness filling in as the crash of thunder rang down upon us.
The children oooed and ahhed from the safety of the plate-glass windows at the visitors’ center at Rocky Mountain National Park.
And then as fast as the storm had whipped up, it stopped.
We waited a little longer, and then ventured out upon the tundra again, knowing we were safe from any further storms in the mountains—at least for that day.
Our noses tickled. The fresh mountain air had a whiff of wetness. Earthy and a little musty. Lichen, clinging to its gritty gray host, popped in brilliant patches of rust and yellow green. Vibrant and alive. Water droplets glistened on mosses, filled for now with water. Pine, whipped up on a breeze, filled our senses. We shivered as the temperature had dropped.
As I mentioned here on Camping with Five Kids before, you should wear layers when hiking. Quilted raincoats or windbreakers come in handy, whether you tie them around your waist when not in use or shove them into a daypack.
Here’s another tip. Whenever shoes are wet after a hike, store them outside the trailer when at the campground or in the back of your vehicle when driving anywhere. This will save you from everyone asking who brought the skunk along. Never store wet shoes in a closed-down camper. The entire little vacation home will need to be dipped in Febreze if you do.
Thanks for stopping by Camping with Five Kids. I hope your summer will be dipped in laughter and memories.
*Please Note* I will be away from my computer in July. I will “see” you all in August!