Follow Wisconsin Trails writer Chelsey Lewis as she gets out to explore Wisconsin. Read more about this blog here.
I broke a cardinal rule of camping last weekend: I failed to set up my tent at home before heading out for my first excursion of the season.
There's a reason that's a cardinal rule, and I learned the hard way when I got to Thornton's Rafting Resort in Athelstane after a wet ride down the Menominee River on Saturday night. (Watch for a story on that later this month.)
Dodging scattered rain showers, my friends and I pulled into the campground around 5 p.m. and set about making camp. As a light drizzle fell and mosquitoes enjoyed an early dinner, we scrambled to set up a four-person jack-rabbit style tent I had borrowed from my parents. (My two-person backpacking tent wouldn't have cut it for the three of us.)
The poles in this type of tent are already connected and assembled, you simply have to straighten them out, lock the joints in place, and lock a mechanism at the top of the tent that connects all of them. Usually set-up takes five, 10 minutes tops.
But as we began locking pole joints into place, I found one that had broken. WIthout the proper tools to fix it, I fiddled with it for nearly half an hour before I was able to jury-rig a small bungee around the two poles and loosely keep them in place.
Thankfully, the rain ended early and the makeshift fix held through the night.
Even so, lesson learned. Especially since I was borrowing a tent, I should have done a test-run with the tent at home before setting out. Even if you're a veteran camper, it's always best to test your gear at home at the beginning of every season.
Despite a broken pole, our tent survived the night and we woke to bright blue skies in northern Wisconsin.