Thought a short hike to Box Camp would be nice. Bring a hammock, take a nap, have lunch, be on the way back down the mountain by 1 before it rains. Yeah, it was a nice thought.
Got held up at home, made it to the trailhead around 10. Weather app suggested a 50% chance of rain around noon, maybe a couple tenths. No problem, I brought a jacket! Made great time.
Some showers started forming over Summerhaven and appeared to be moving northwest, away. As I got close to the drainage headed to Box Camp, there was thunder and angry clouds forming over my car. A lightning bolt struck very close between me and the car.
Decided the ridge on the way back was too exposed so headed for the tree cover around the Camp.
Once I got to Box Camp it started raining. Thunder all around. Flashes of lightning, but still a couple miles away near the parking lot. Figured I’d wait it out. Then it started hailing. Sat on a log for half an hour, huddled under my rain jacket to keep my core dry. It was clear further down so I tried to move there. The rain followed.
The trail below Box Camp was more exposed and generally followed a ridge, which was bad. A lightning bolt struck so close I could smell it.
I took cover in a copse of oak trees in the drainage. The rain picked up and I got a weather service alert for flash flooding, telling me not to travel unless escaping a flood. No kidding!
By this point all the drainages were raging and the rain had saturated my rain jacket. I was already wet and there was no good shelter, and the lightning was getting closer. I decided it made no difference to stay or go, and there was good tree cover until the burn area on the way in. So I scrambled up the drainage and picked my way along to avoid the more exposed parts of the trail. When I got back to Box Camp, the creek was an epic torrent.
Since the trail followed the creek, I had to scramble along the steep, slick, muddy hillside. One more close and aromatic lightning strike kept things exciting.
The storm settled into a light rain as I emerged from tree cover, and a little birdie told me the it was safe to climb up to the ridge between the creek and the car. There was still rain and thunder but no flashes and the storm was moving off.
As I gained a little elevation I saw patches of what looked like snow, but turned out to be accumulations of hailstones, 3” deep in places. The rest of the way back was like traversing a giant sno-cone.
All the drainages were gushing on the drive down the back range, and there were large rocks on the highway blocking uphill lanes in a couple spots. Stopped at Seven Cataracts and joined a gaggle of gawkers as massive torrents of black floodwater poured down.
When I got home I unpacked my hammock to let it dry, and found a tarp in the stuff sack.
Overall a solid experience of Type 2 fun that cultivated a healthy skepticism of weather apps.