Desolation Wilderness, Tahoe, California
We had just reached our first camping spot. Happy to be resting after an all-day uphill hike, we set our tents up in a nice, flat area and got down to cooking. Then it happened. The wind picked up and a wall of rain came at us. This was no cute, light shower. This was a 'sky is falling, wrath of god' type thing. We grabbed our belongings and ran to our tents.
Lesson 1: Then the error of our ways became apparent. 1 inch, 2 inches, .....3, 4, 5 - the water was rising outside the tents. We'd parked our tents in the runoff zone. We jumped out of the tents, and did an Olympic- style tent-carry up the hill. 10 people. 4 tents. In our skimpies. Still dry, good, but.... Lesson 1: Don't Pitch Tents in a Runoff Zone.
Lesson 2: But then there was the tent that-was-not-even-vaguely-waterproof. That's right. Two hikers got their tent by redeeming proof of purchase codes on Marlboro cigarette boxes. They, their cotton gear, and a loaf of Wonderbread were sadly soaked. For two days we loaned equipment, food and clothing. Lesson 2: Before you start out, do a preliminary search in the parking lot for * crazy * gear.