The storm that almost ended the journey

As some of you will be aware there has been a lot of drama going on in the past 24 hours, which I'll catch you up on later, in the meantime, I have some other blog stuff, just as dramatic to get you up to date with.


The Storm

Back in Pennsylvania last week, I stopped near York to camp for the night, as usual I was looking to wild camp and found a great spot on the edge of a flat grassy area but on a slope from the road so I wasn't easily visible and with a big stand of trees to shelter me and make me less conspicuous (more fool me).

I saw rain clouds approaching rapidly so I quickly got the tent set up and stood Thelma next to a thirty foot apple tree to "hide" her from the road. I just about got my sleeping mat and bag as well as the tank bag inside the tent when the rain started, closely follwed by thunder and lightning

"whew I thought, this is a rough one, glad I'm off the road"

I looked at the trees around me a bit worried but comforted myself with the thought that they have stood there for years, they should be fine for another hundred years.

The thunder was horrendously loud, and there was one crack that sounded a bit strange  I peekd out of my tent and found a tree had fallen with its branches lying just inches fron my tent. I was terrified, grabbed my helmet, jacket and boots and ran out into the rain with a whispered sorry to Thelma for abandoning her as I fled for my life.

I found shelter behind a large shed in the missdle of the field, where I waited out the rain. I could hear more crashes but couldn't see a thing as the although the ligtning kept lilluminating the scenes around me, the rain was too obscuring everything. It took about 25 minutes before the storm started to subside, I coule cars int he distance doing U-turns, there were obviously trees down in the road.

Once I felt it was safe, I made my way through the darkened field back to where I had last seen Thelma - all I could see were trees and foliage where earlier it had been an open field. I was horrified at what I might find as I cautiously crept forward. To my relief, Thelma was still intact and standing with the incredible sight of trees fallen in a V shape around her. Several trees had fallen and the thrity foot apple tree had completely uprooted right next to her. The tent was mangled and under some of the branches, I managed to get the heavy tank bag out of it and then somehow drag it out to a safer place. There were two gallons of water sloshing around in the tent where the rain must have funnelled into it.

I emptied the water out as best I could and repitchedthe tent in the middle of the field far away from the threat of any more tall trees falling on it. I put it on a slope so that the remainder of the water which I was unable to empty out was pooled at the foot end. I was feeling shaky and a bit nauseous at what a close escape I'd had, I really would have been crushed if I hadn't run out of the tent when I did.

I was a bit too wound up to sleep so I headed up the filed and ontot he road to see the trees down there and maybe get a photo of the JCB moving the fallen ones. There were a few cars queuing up, and i went forward with my camera ready, at which point I saw something moving on the ground- it was the power cables fromt he houses nearby, the trees had obviously brought those down as well. Having narrowly missed being crushed, I decided that I probably didn't want to risk being electrocuted, so I headed back to my tent. The people in their cars wound down their windows - I think having spotted the reflective stripes on my bike jacket they assumed I was one of the workers, I assured them otherwise, although looking down at myself I realised that I wasn't actally looking all that professional as I had my hanky hanging out of the waistband of my leggings.

I retired to bed, and tried to get to sleep in my damp sleeping bag inside the saturated tent.