On one of our earliest October trips, I'm guessing 1998, my co-worker Bob E. and friend Tim P. joined me for a weekend of tent camping, paddling and fishing the Susquehanna from Tunkhannock to West Pittston, PA. A fellow river rat allowed us to pitch our tents on his property along the river just upstream from the Falls bridge, and with three cars at our disposal, we did the shuttle thing ourselves both days. The "facilities" at our avail were an old, wooden outhouse with a bucket of lime next to the throne which came to good use (?) sometime in the wee hours of Sunday morning.
Anyway, I don't remember too much about the fishing that year except we all did well and I caught the biggest smallie on a copper Sidewinder at the downstream end of Scovell's Island. There seemed to be a deep hole at the point where the western channel reentered the main section of the river, and I let it flutter to the bottom before getting a solid strike on the way up.
Once we loaded the boats on our vans in West Pittston, I asked if the guys were up for some pizza & beer at a local hot spot before we went back to our tents...and with a unanimous "yes", off we went to Victory Pig Pizza in West Wyoming. It was a first time for both of them as far as the deep-fried Sicilian-style pizza goes...and all I remember is one of them commenting on how greasy it was compared to what they could get where they lived. And much better.
Hold that thought...and this one as well: the NJ guy hadn't tent camped in decades, so he had just purchased a very nice high-end dome tent that could barely accommodate his 6' 3" frame.
Fast forward a few hours. Shortly after we settled into our tents for the night, the distant rumblings of a thunderstorm began to get closer...and louder. For those that have never slept in a tent along a fairly quiet stretch of a river during a T-storm...it is a pretty cool experience. And loud. Once it arrived in Falls, I will simply offer it was a pretty strong storm. At the peak of the rain, wind, lightning & thunder, I was trying to rationalize not heading for the safety of my van by assessing which of the three tents had the most metal and the tallest peak. My friend Tim won on both counts.
I think I actually fell asleep during the storm, because the next thing I remember was waking up to a rowdy chorus of birds tuning up just before dawn. As I had a pretty good tent with a rain fly, a quick inspection showed no evidence of leaks, and after a few minutes, I got out and headed directly for the outhouse. I didn't pay much attention to anything else except responding to the call of nature.
On my way back, as I approached the three tents, I noticed a large patch of white just outside my NJ friend's tent. There was a good amount of unidentifiable "stuff" on the grass which appeared to be coated with a white powder. A few seconds later, I heard the zipper of his tent and Bob stepped out, carefully avoiding the area just described. I think his first words after 'Good Morning' were "Rough night."
As Bob described it, during the height of the thunderstorm, the combination of being cramped in a small tent, having a few beers, and the 4 or 5 cuts of deep fried pizza started his head and stomach spinning like a 78 rpm turntable. He barely was able to get his head out of the tent in time...during the driving rain...to end the spinning with a voluminous ralph that, per his account, came in waves that seemed to last for a minute or two.
When the storm passed, as he was concerned his nocturnal addition to the grass might kill it, he went to the outhouse, grabbed the bucket of lime, and spread a good amount over the aforementioned deposit.
Anyway, after a few more minutes of pre-dawn chit-chat and a few good laughs, we decided to see if Tim was awake. ( Reminder: Tim had the tent with the highest peak and lots of metal poles.) After calling for him several times with no answer, we decided to look inside to make sure he was alright.
The first thing we noticed was a large pool of water covering the bottom of Tim's tent.
The next thing we noticed?
Stay tuned...it gets better.
Above: 2005 "Paddle" winner Jim B. (~18" Walleye)