I got back a week ago from a 4 day solo trip from TM up to Cathedral Lake (6 miles from my TM campsite). Whilst up there I went on a day hike from lower Cathedral towards Sunrise HSC via upper Cathedral. Got to a point at high point before dropping down towards Long Meadow – walked out on granite to snap some shots of Echo Peaks , Tressider Point, etc. Huge back cloud zooming north to the east of me – few raindrops – I thought “good, I get to try out my rainjacket”, which has yet to be christened outside of the shower at home. Got off some shots and then heard thunder rumble in the distance. Decided to get off granite knob and started heading down trail. Then, a HUGE crack of thunder overhead. Wasn’t sure if it was time to “assume the position”, so continued on, fairly quickly, down the trail towards more trees. Of course, some of the trees looked as if they had been struck by lightning at some point anyway.
Then another huge crack, echoing all round. Eeek. So, I put my poles down, took my pack off and walked away from them, then assumed the huddle-your-knees position, on the trail, feeling like a total idiot. Watched lightning strike across the valley from me, counting one thousand one, one thousand two – thunder rolled in at 5 seconds. But I couldn’t remember what that meant anyway! And I knew there was rule of 3s – and take evasive action for 30 minutes after the last thunder – but in the meantime, I was the epitome of gibbering idiot. Full-on expletives were issuing forth. I was probably more scared than I ever been in my life and vowed never to hike again if only I was spared this time (empty promises). But the cloud was moving off quite swiftly, and the thunder was abating, so I stood up. Just as I did so, a guy waltzed round the corner of the trail, very cheerful, “it never rains in the Sierra” he joked.
Once I got to the meadow by the upper lake, I decided to wait a little longer for things to settle – didn’t want to be the highest thing around after all. I heard the tinkling of a bell and 2 guys walked past with a bear bell on them – I must have been 10 feet away and they never saw me – I should have gone “BOO.”
Later I was talking to a super-hiker (JMT in 9 days) called Peter who was camped near me. He said one time he was in a storm and decided to sit it out about 100 feet off the trail. As he sat there, a lightning bolt hit the trail right in front of him! Yikes.
How do you all deal with this! Barbara