How was your Fourth of July weekend?
If you were camping, you got a firsthand look at Kodiak’s rainy weather.
Camping in the rain is challenging, especially when you mix in a good dose of wind.
Season your adventure with energetic young kids, and a rainy day camp can be a little too memorable at times.
After the heavy rain Friday night, we saw a steady stream campers headed for home on Saturday. With relief so close at hand on Kodiak’s road short system it’s easy to understand why.
The two biggest secrets for camping on Kodiak are to prepare for the worst, and bring lots of roof space.
You have to start any camping adventure with the possibility of rain in mind. What are you going to do if the sunny forecast doesn’t work out?
Over the last 40 years we’ve camped from one end of the Kodiak Archipelago to the other in all sorts of weather. It has taught us invaluable packing lessons.
Every camp should include provisions for the rain, and spares of the most important elements.
We separate our cooking and socializing spaces from our sleeping spaces, whether on the road system or in remote regions.
Certainly you don’t want food or cooking smells in your sleeping tents with bears about, but there’s more to camping than sleeping and eating.
If you don’t have plenty of roofed area for socializing and eating, as well as cooking, you’re inevitably hang out in your sleeping tent. With wet feet. With wet clothes. With the door opened often to let in even more water.
We sleep on cots as a matter of course to keep our sleeping bags off wet floors. But keeping your sleeping bags dry is even easier if water never gets into the tent in the first place.
At the very least tents should have roomy vestibules. You need a dry place to remove raingear, wet clothing and shoes before entering the tent.
But vestibules are generally too small for socializing when the rain is pouring.
We always pack several tarps along with the poles, guy lines and stakes to erect additional shelter. If the wind rises, you’ll be happiest with lots of long stakes and strong guy lines!
But you’ll also be happy to have extra tarps that can be raised as walls on the windy side of the tarp shelter.
We’ve found an ideal arrangement. We erect our shelter, then set up our tents with their doors under the shelter. Talk about a huge “vestibule!” The big dry spot right in front of the tent door is invaluable for keeping your beds dry, even as it also provides lots of dry space for socializing.
In a refinement of that setup, we also arrange lines for hanging wet raingear and clothing. That small detail adds a lot of comfort to your day.
Of course, these days not everyone is camping in tents on Kodiak’s road system.
I’m amazed at the proliferation of truck campers and especially travel trailers! Not too long ago you could mark the arrival of the ferry simply by the sudden appearance of either on Kodiak.
Now more and more locals have stepped up from tents.
It’s a logical move, and it’s resulting in lots more camping on Kodiak. I love it! Especially when the adventures include kids learning about nature.
We don’t have a trailer on Kodiak, but we have lots of trailer time in other places. We’ve learned some lessons that should prove invaluable to RVers on Kodiak.
Awnings are priceless, but they’re never large enough. They’re also fragile in sudden strong winds.
The solution is two-fold.
First, bring along guy lines and long tent stakes to secure the leading edge of the awning against strong winds. Even better, add “tent pole” to the corners of the awning to really secure it in place.
The awning is great for rain falling straight down, but what about all the “horizontal rain” we get?
It’s pretty straight forward once your guy lines and tent poles are in place to string a tarp wall around the perimeter of the awning. What a boon for rainy day camping on Kodiak!
All this dry space we’re creating creates important opportunities in case of bad weather.
Right after you have rigged your shelter, and before the rain starts, move a good supply of firewood into the shelter. Even if you don’t rig a shelter before the rain, at least use your tarp to cover a collection of firewood. Wet firewood is a smoky mess even if you can manage to light it, but there’s nothing like a nice fire for comfort once the rain starts.
If you’re starting your trip on a rainy day in hopes that the rain will quit, be sure to bring dry firewood from home. It will be invaluable for helping dry wet local sources.
Continuing the theme of dry is heavenly, it’s wise to have other provisions for dry storage.
We always bring along a box of “leaf and lawn” plastic bags, the oversize tough versions intended for yard care. They’re terrific for everything from firewood to bedding.
In tents, move your sleeping bags into the plastic bags as a matter of course each morning. No matter how much use the tent gets on a wet day, your bedding will be dry and toasty when you’re ready for it that night.
We also stow wet clothes in plastic bags, simply to contain it and keep it from wetting everything else it contacts. If you’re limited on tent space, the plastic bags also allow you to move everything out of the tent for the day, so you can use the tent as a large dry spot for kids to play.
And especially with kids in camp, bring lots more spare clothing than you think you’ll need! Kids seem to be water magnets on rainy days, but they chill so quickly when wet. Keep them dry and warm, no matter how often you have to change their clothes.
With or without kids in attendance, it’s always a good idea to bring along plenty of indoor entertainment for rainy days. Silly board games, books, craft materials and binoculars will be as welcome for adults as for kids on rainy days.
Time will pass quickly with plenty to do as you wait for the skies to clear. The rain won’t seem quite the burden, and you’ll be lots more likely to enjoy life and stay out in nature, rather than ending the trip ahead of schedule and plodding for home.
Certainly we’d all rather have sunny days for our camping trips. But raingear was invented for good reason. You’ll enjoy your adventures in raingear a lot more if you have a nice dry camp waiting for your return.