Bruce D. Brown
we can’t stay here,” I heard him tell one of the other fathers that was
studying the map with him. They both looked very worried.
After consulting the map, Dad called us together and hollered
over the wind. “This is not a good situation and it is going to get
worse in the next few minutes. We need to hoof it off of these peaks
as quickly as we can possibly go. No screwing around and no lolly-
gagging. Time to move!”
For anyone that ever camped with my Dad, they knew that he
had the capacity to be a great kidder. On more than one occasion,
each member of our group had been subjected to his kidding or
good-natured teasing. By the tone in his voice this afternoon, how-
ever, it was apparent to all of us that he was extremely serious and
very worried about the situation we found ourselves in.
With that, Dad turned, stuffed the flapping map into
his parka and led the group starting across the first rise
at a rapid pace. We each followed quickly, and there was
not much talking. The timing between the flashes and
the boom were growing shorter. I found myself, without wanting to, counting the seconds between them.
Where they had been over ten counts separating the two
before, we now were lucky to get to five before being interrupted. My Dad was right, the situation was not good
and it was not going to get any better any time soon.
“Separate apart; at least twenty yards between you,”
As part of our wilderness training we each knew what
this meant. In an impending lighting storm, each member of a group should be at least twenty yards away from
the next person. In that way, if someone was struck by
lighting, you all didn’t all get hit and, maybe, the others could help the one who did. The other part of this
training told you to watch the hair on your arms. If it
BRUCE BROWN practices primarily family
law in the Phoenix area. In addition to being
a lawyer for over 30 years, he is active with
a number of volunteer organizations in the
Valley and serves as a Pro Tem Judge. Bruce
also enjoys spending time with his family,
traveling, backpacking, camping and hunting.
The events described in “Caught in the Open:
A Problem With Lightning” actually occurred
during a week-long backpacking trip during
the summer of 2014 in Colorado.
started to rise due to static electricity build-up, it was time to ditch
your pack and get as low as possible in a crouched position on the
double. Unfortunately, there were no low areas in our current loca-
tion that I could see to go.
We moved rapidly down the far side of the first ridge. With the
storm moving in and the rain increasing, we could barely make out
the contour of the other peak that we had to pass over as it was now
covered by low clouds. At times it seemed like the thunderstorm
was subsiding, but just as I started halfway believing this, a rapid cascading flash and boom dashed those hopes immediately. The
rainstorm continued to pound down on our ponchos.
We started up the other slope on the second ridge, and I could
not help but remember a story that my Dad had told me many