2023 has shown it’s good and bad days for weather. This year challenges were based around lightning and thunder for most of it. If thunder is heard lightning is in striking distance. 

Your distance from a thunderstorm can be estimated by measuring the time between seeing the lightning flash and the hearing the start of thunder. The length of this interval in seconds can be divided by three to give an approximate distance in kilometres.

If you’re on the trail and bad weather rolls in here’s what you should know. – Before you head out you should always be aware of the weather you’re going into. 

Always carry a rain jacket.

Get below the tree line. 

Avoid metal. Since metal objects conduct electricity quite well, you want to move at least 100 feet from fences, pipes and backpacks with metal frames. If you ever hear a metal object begin to buzz, move away from it as quickly as possible. 

Shelter under a lower elevation clump of trees, not under a tall isolated tree. Stay away from trees with large trunks. 

Avoid open slopes and above treeline that are 100 meters and wider. 

Don’t band together. If you are in a group, move about 70 feet away from one another; this will ensure that if one person is struck, others will be safe enough to help. 

Avoid caves. It may seem counterintuitive, but caves actually channel electricity fairly well, increasing your risk of being struck by lightning

Avoid open water. You should also move at least 300 feet from water since it conducts electricity very well. 

Seek to shelter immediately. 

Have your hiking poles away from camp. 

If caught in your tent, sit on your air mattress in a upright position on your feet. Do not lay flat on the ground.

If struck by lightning you will need to call for help, treat the burn the best you can and monitor vitals until help arrives. 


Fun Fact: National Geographic estimates the average person’s odds of being struck by lightning to be just 1 in 700,000 in any given year. That said, over the course of a single lifetime, your odds of being struck increase to 1 in 3,000. If you hike a lot, you can expect your odds to be even bigger.

Sometimes all you can do is hide in a tent and hope for the best and question why you do this for fun sometimes. Dozer was a champ for the thunder and lightning this year. He’s not a fan of the tent almost collapsing from the wind so he finds himself nice and cozy in between. 

If you have a camp it is ideal to have a tarp shelter in place at all times. Sometimes in our groups the vestibules on tents are not always the biggest. Having a dry spot to keep your gear is a great idea! 

Side Note: If you like having your gear close to you, I highly suggest bigger vestibules on your tent when buying your gear or looking into them. It makes a world of a difference.