Get Ready for Rain on Cheat Mountain!

If you’ve been in West Virginia this month, you’ve probably noticed that it rains here…a lot. No where more so than the home of our Sur-thrival camp up on Cheat Mountain in Randolph County. More days than not this summer we’ve been under a flash flood warning, and it feels like we’re all starting to grow gills over here! Thankfully we haven’t had any damage like that seen at our neighbors in Harman, but it’s best to be prepared. So let’s talk about what you can do to be prepared for your trip to Cheat Mountain!

¬†Depending on your skill level coming in to Cheat Mountain, you may be sleeping in a tent, hammock, or even a debris hut! Each presents it’s own barriers to staying dry on this wet summit. If you’re tent camping, your biggest worry is surface water collecting around, in, and under the tent. Here are some strategies for keeping your stuff dry:

  • Pack up your sleeping bag in a trash bag each morning
  • Hang valuable items from the top of your tent or the top line of your tarp
  • Keep anything that will break if it’s wet in a ziplock bag
  • If your tent is on a bit of a slope, leave your pack on the uphill side

Most of these recommendations apply to other sleeping situations as well. I cannot stress enough that packing away your dry sleeping bag each morning may save you several evenings of misery! Let’s move on to hammock camping, what are some ways to keep everything dry with that set up?

  • Make sure your tarp covers as much of your hammock and hammock lines as possible
  • Hang a drip line from your hammock straps just inside your tarp coverage area. This can look like rope, fabric, anything you can tie on the strap that will dangle down lower
  • Keep everything you want to stay dry in your hammock when you aren’t there
  • If it’s humid or misty, employ above sleeping bag in trash bag technique

Finally, what about those sleeping in a debris hut….condemned to be soggy? Certainly not! Let’s look at some ways you can stay dry in your shelter:

  • Pick your location wisely! Look for run off channels in the dirt, look where debris accumulates in storms, watch the lay of the land carefully. Pick a nice high and dry spot where no ephemeral springs or surface run off will catch you unawares!
  • Put enough debris on your structure….then go ahead and put some more
  • Take your time and don’t forget how to shingle! Always take gravity and water flow into consideration when placing materials on your hut
  • Trash bags, need I say it again? When in doubt at least keep things from getting soaked while you aren’t there to grab them

Let’s talk about clothing now. When it comes to Cheat Mountain, always pack more than you think you’ll need. Pack as many synthetic layers as you can fit, then layer some more on your body for your car ride up here! I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had to dig through storage to find extra clothes for campers, or we find ourselves putting on that long underwear we never thought we’d actually need in July! Pack shoes that function when they’re wet, even ‘waterproof’ shoes will most likely end up filled with water before the trip is done. Make sure they’re breathable so your feet aren’t trapped in leather bound puddles!

The most important thing with all the precipitation is to be aware. Be aware of your body: notice and care for rashes, chaffing, wet and injured feet. Be aware of your stuff: sweep your camp before leaving, place your things in a dry and safe place, keep tabs on how much dry clothing you have left. Be aware of your surroundings: notice the moisture in the ground and the stability of the slope, notice the level of the river and your access points, hear and taste and feel what’s about to come from the sky. Know where it will go when it hits the earth.

See y’all on Cheat Mountain!

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