Revisiting a Night of Swimming, Hammocking in a Lightning Storm, and Sleeping in an Abandoned Cabin

Feeling both a mixture of writer’s block and wanderlust, I decided to tackle both feelings by sharing a blog post I wrote in 2015 during a time when I wanted nothing more than to travel somewhere. I enjoyed stumbling across the story, but per usual, I was floored by how lengthy the original post was (a whopping 2,099 words). In an effort to preserve your sanity, I have done my best to trim the post to a more palatable 984 words, so without any further ado…

I have been quite restless lately, so what could I do to relieve this feeling of entrapment? I could travel to Ohio. Yes, Ohio, the state where I live for nine months out of each year for college.


The plan was to tag along on my sister’s road trip to Ohio where halfway, I would switch cars to ride with my friend, Olivia, who was returning from Ohio. She had been planning on stopping at a camp where her sister, Claire, was a counselor, so I prepared for the excitement that comes from staying at a camp.


Upon our arrival, I immediately realized how old I feel when we were greeted by Claire and a small gang of high school age camp staff. They were jittery from the mass amounts of sugar they had been consuming (they were eating ice cream as they spoke with us), and they excitedly said that we were going to have a dance party.


I walked with them into a darkly lit gymnasium and tensed up as I saw the colorful lights strobing on the other side of the room. Loud music was blaring, and the kids were growing more and more animated as we grew closer to the source of the sound. I thought to myself, “This is how people are ritualistically killed” as we drew nearer to the music and lights. Unwilling to die by the hands of high schoolers, I said goodnight and left the “party” to explore the campground.


I soon discovered that the camp overlooks Lake Ontario, and I had the idea to go swimming at night. The only problem is that I didn’t know how to get down to the lake (other than flinging myself down the pitch-black embankment overlooking the water), so I knew I would have to go back into “the rave” to get more information about the camp layout.


After learning how to arrive at the lake, I made a beeline for the path, and once I reached the lake’s edge, I waded into the water. Following the initial shock of cold water on my skin, I started to notice just how amazing the little inlet that I had waded into was. There was no artificial light along the water’s edge, and once my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I could see the shoreline illuminated by the moon and canopy of stars. I swam around before moving to the shoreline, where I sat in stunned silence feeling so small under the expansive night sky next to a huge lake.


Once I had dried off and made my way up to the top of the embankment, I began searching for a place to hang my hammock. To give you a little context, I’ve rarely used my hammock, so I am by no means a pro at finding unique places to hang it. Because of my hammock-hanging unoriginality, I ended up tying it between a metal jungle gym and a tree that stood near some cabins. I nestled into the hammock and prepared for a night of peaceful sleep, but, as I have now learned, uninterrupted sleep does not always happen when you are hammocking on a cold, stormy night.


The canopy of stars that I had gazed in wonder at just a little while ago was now obscured by storm clouds, and I lay in the hammock watching lightning flash in the distance. Despite my exhaustion, I was able to deduce that being attached to a metal playground might not be the best thing in the event of a lightning strike. However, I was too cold and tired to find a new place to hang my hammock, so I lay back down and imagined what I would look like as a human who had been struck by lightning.


Somehow, after much time had gone by, I drifted off to sleep, but that sleep did not last for long. I was jolted out of a nightmare of me being covered with lightning burns by a feeling of intense coldness. I concluded that using one thin blanket was not the best idea for a hammocking adventure on a cold night, but there wasn’t much to be done. I tried to settle back into the hammock to fall back asleep, but sleep evaded me. After some time I realized I needed to find a warm place to sleep, but I had not made any arrangements to sleep in a cabin because of my aversion to sharing quarters with strangers. Nevertheless, I would not be deterred. I grabbed all of my gear (which consisted of a hammock, a can of bug spray, and a thin blanket) and made my way towards the guy’s cabins.


I did not want to burst in on a cabin full of people at 2:30 AM, so I searched for cabins that showed no signs of life. The first one I entered was not exactly livable, but the second cabin was empty and seemed semi-habitable. I felt like an explorer who has just discovered a huge treasure as I made my way towards the bed and set up for the night. I fell asleep with ease and slept until my alarm awoke me at 7:00 AM. I continued to lie in bed for close to an hour, drifting between sleep and consciousness, before getting up and searching for Claire and Olivia.


It may not sound like an adventure when one hears that I drove to Ohio and then back to New York in one day, but to me, it was an incredible experience. I was able to catch up with my friend, see the stunning night landscape from the water, and learn some things about hammocking (i.e., bring a sleeping bag). This little trip was just what I needed to fulfill my burning wanderlust, and I think I will be able to survive the rest of the summer without needing another adventure.

It’s ironic that this is the post I stumbled across today since I’ll be heading to Ohio in a few weeks to celebrate a friend’s birthday. However, my hope is that the extent of the similarity is traveling to Ohio since I plan on avoiding hammocking at a summer camp this time around.

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