The first time we camped at Hilltop Campground we couldn’t help but admire a few of the prime camp spots with idyllic scenic views. It’s because of this that when my husband noticed a weekend availability open up amongst the row of these camp locations, we jumped at the opportunity to book it. Not only was it a chance to admire the scenery, it was the perfect opportunity to close out the last weekend before he went back to work.
Having had all our major camping trips canceled over the summer, we were beyond ready for a night under the stars, which is why we couldn’t help but feel a bit exasperated when we noticed rain heading into the forecast -- the risk of pre booking during monsoon season, but you know what they say; nothing ventured, nothing rained. (sorry I couldn’t help myself.) Regardless of the potential weather changes, we were adamant that the short trip must go on, and that worst-case scenario would result in a very scenic picnic dinner or a midnight drive home.
Upon arrival, and after informing some people that the site was reserved, there was no doubt that the views were worth risking the chance of rain. After calming a car-anxious pup and getting our camp set up for the night, we just stared; admiring the views.
Ready to settle in with a scenic happy hour, we set up chairs on the edge of the campsite. Sitting amongst the juniper, mountain mahogany and ponderosa pine forest and overlooking the sweeping views of the Mojave Desert below and Spring Mountains above, we were in a moment of complete bliss.
Before diving into dinner, we enjoyed a walk around the campground and had a brief deer sighting, which was Tahoe’s first deer encounter and thoroughly confused him, thus providing us some comedic entertainment.
A fancy dinner of smoked sockeye salmon, salads and crème brûlée, we watched as darkening storm clouds and continuous lightning began to form over the ridge of the mountains to our left. Simultaneously, we watched as a second storm cell began encompassing the desert that resided to the right and below us, engulfing the sandy landscape in grey clouds. As we ate, we watched the show; the two storms slowly merged together and continued to grow, all the while contrasting the vibrant sunset breaking through the clouds. As the storm grew, it began to travel south, breaking over the ridge; we had the perfect view for timing its arrival at our camp.
Dinner fully enjoyed, we packed up our cooking gear, took a final stroll through the campground, and attentively monitored the clouds, preparing to weather the storm and turn in for the night.
The storm moved in with perfect timing. As we climbed into the tent, winds began kicking in, followed closely by continuous lightning, pouring rain and a bit of hail. All in all, the storm lasted in our location for over an hour, a little unsettling at moments with blinding flashes of lightning overhead, but the most important concern was eased in knowing that we felt safe and we were being kept dry.
We were able to open the sunroof of the iKamper, and from the dry safety of our rooftop tent, watch the rain fall, observe the lightning illuminating the sky above, and listen to the sounds of the storm around us as it engulfed the surrounding forest.
Overall, the storm made for an exhilarating experience and just like that, the mix of excitement and apprehension propelled this short overnight trip to became one of my favorite camping experiences to date. There’s just something about experiencing the power of Mother Nature first hand and with my own eyes. The clashing balance of ominous storm and chromatic sunset made the experience both intoxicating and humbling all at once.
When morning came, the skies were clear, leaving no trace of the previous nights’ storm other than a few large puddles on the road. Up early, we were able to have a relaxing and leisurely morning to enjoy breakfast and take in all the views without being chased away by bees this time -- although this would have been the weather for yellow jackets (I’m sorry, please keep reading my blogs. lol.) The calm after the storm, the stillness providing a last bit of tranquility before heading back to the city.
The first time we camped at Hilltop we experienced our first bout of cold-weather camping in our rooftop tent, so having another weather first of immense rain and hail seemed rather appropriate for the location. With this trip, I feel that we have gained enough experiences to be qualified to put together a full review of our iKamper, which I will do in a future post, but until then, it’s time for more adventures and making more memories!