The rain had fallen in fits and starts for 24 hours. It was just enough to soak everything while leaving no window of opportunity for the sun to do its job. Articles of clothing and towels hung on the clothesline, only to be soak by the next downpour.
And now I found myself a half mile from the van caught in another downpour. Huddled under the trees with my boys, we watched the girls jump into the frigid water of the swimming hole. Laughter and giggles could be heard over the pounding of the rain on the rocks. They were oblivious to our discomfort.
We shifted closer to the tree trunk. Nothing helped. My patience was drenched and ready to return to the car. Of course, the impending hike through mud, tree roots, and puddles was not going to be a walk in the park but it was the only way to reach the shelter of the van.
A forced smile plastered on my face, I signaled my husband and then told my two sons that we could start the walk back. Off we trampled and splashed through the muddy path on our way to the van. We chattered about the rain and our horrible luck while I tried to tell myself that our situation would be funny one day. I mean, this is the stuff memories are made of, right?
By the time we reached the van, the rain had stopped and the sun was making a very strong appearance. Of course. It’s the kind of timing we had grown used to this, our very first family camping trip.
After a group discussion, we all decided that rain or shine, we were definitely going to make it to Sliding Rock, one of the top activities on the list for this camping trip. But first, we’d headed into the local town to dry our towels at the laundromat. Dry towels would be key when sliding down a 60 foot flat rock into a pool of freezing (50-60 degrees) cold spring water.
Once the towels were spinning in the heat, I drove my four kiddos to Sonic while my husband waited patiently for the dryer to do its job. Five milkshakes were delivered to the table and we laughed about the horrible irony of sitting in the sun with our treats while being drenched in the rain on our hike.
Dry towels acquired. Bathing suits back on. It was time to head to Sliding Rock.
Upon arrival, we saw the rangers closing up for the day. Not a good sign. It was definitely due to the darkening sky which was threatening another downpour.
Thankfully, while the bathrooms and ranger stations having closing times, the rock itself doesn’t. So we parked and decided to take our chances with the weather as well as the lack of lifeguards on duty.
It paid off for about 5 minutes. The sun. The slide. The slippery rock. A few of us made it down…
…before the sky opened up and rain drenched our freshly dried towels. I rushed to protect the iPad as well as the disheartened 6 year old, cold from his slide and now clinging to a wet towel.
What to do? What to do? I decided to do the only thing left to do…
I mean, we were already wet, so why not slide in? We became a few of the brave souls who remained at the rock, determined to enjoy this moment.
And enjoy it we did!
My littlest guy, Daniel, and I escaped to the lifeguard shelter area to hide from the rain. He was much happier and the towels at the bottom of our pile were able to stay slightly more dry. We enthusiastically cheered on the sliders from our perch.
One major advantage of our rainy, cold sliding experience was not having any lines or any lifeguards. Our kids were able to slide together, in groups, and in trains because no one was there to enforce the rules. In addition, my most anxious slider was able to duck under the bar and slide mid-way before attempting it from the top.
When she finally did make it to the top, the remaining folks had witnessed her anxious persistence and cheered for her as she slid. My heart swelled with joy and excitement for her as she made it down the first time!
After an hour or so of sliding, we made our way back to the van and “home” to our campsite. Our hearts were full. We spent the evening re-living the tales of rain, laundromats, milkshakes, and more rain.
In the end, it wasn’t how I planned it, but it was a perfect day.