Caught in a Lightning Storm


Victoria on a horse

My father and I went to Yosemite for a nice vacation. On the third day, we went fishing on Lyell Creek, a tributary of the Tuolumne River. It was a beautiful, sunny and hot day. So we drove up to Lyell Creek, an hour and a half drive, and set up to fish. We could already see threatening clouds, but we thought they’d just pass. So we kept fishing. It started to sprinkle a bit, but we didn’t care. We caught a fish and were happy. My dad pointed to the red circles lining its sides and told me it’s a brook trout.

Brook Trout

We heard thunder in the distance. We didn’t think it’d come too close to us. Then it started POURING. We could hear more thunder that sounded a little closer. My father told me to put my rod down and I followed him under a boulder hanging over the river. My father thought it would be one of those mountain storms that only lasts about 30 minutes and then clears up. So we sat under the rock for about ten minutes until it started hailing. The thunder sounded even louder, shaking us as though we were toothpicks in a bag of bowling balls. I was terrified, but my father told me to calm down. I was getting extremely cold, and the hair on my arms was popping up so high because of fear and cold. I shivered wildly. I begged him to let us leave, but he said it’s more dangerous to be walking out in the open with fishing poles during a lightning storm. The thunder came even CLOSER, and we saw the lightning flashes ripping the sky and sizzling earthward. I was freaking out, and begged him if we could just leave the demonic poles, and get the heck out of that place. He said no, and told me the chances of getting hit in a lightning storm would be three million to one. I was still terrified. We’d been under the rock for about 20 minutes, we were soaking wet, my wet hair and clothes clung to me, and the storm hadn’t passed. Mucous poured from my nose, and mixed with the pure rainwater coating my face.

Then we actually saw a lightning streak about A QUARTER MILE AWAY. And right after that, the thunder was TREMENDOUSLY LOUD, crackling, booming, then crackling again. I covered my ears with my hands. I started crying and my dad told me to take a deep breath, and he repeated that it’s nearly impossible to get struck by lightning. I was so afraid that I’d die. So afraid.

Fishing guide

With our fishing guide, three days earlier

But the storm just wouldn’t pass. I REALLY wanted to go, so my dad said, “Okay, we’ll pack everything up and make a run for it.” Our Mini-Cooper was about one and a half miles away, in the Tuolumne Lodge parking lot. It was a long sprint back. By now, there were big puddles everywhere, and the once clear-cut trails were flooded. I dragged my socks over my sopping feet, and stuffed them into my green Converse. I was afraid to carry fishing poles through a lightning storm.

My father picked up our fishing bag and his fly fishing rod, and I carried my pole. We jogged, except when leaping over newly formed rivers. We slogged through muddy puddles and we were soaking as if we had jumped into a dirty pool. I could feel the water and mud in my shoes, giving me blisters. The sky was so dark, and the lightning was terrifying. And the thunder was so loud! I felt as though we were running through the end of the world.

My Dad

My dad, three days earlier

Once on our run back to the car, I counted the seconds between the lightning I saw and thunder I heard, and I got to two. I was pretty scared. We climbed slippery rocks, battled the stinging hail falling hard on our arms and face and head, and it was freezing. I was shaking so violently and covered with goose bumps. And though the rain would wash the trail away, my dad knew where to go. I licked the delicious rain water from my lips on the way to our car.

But finally, after about 40 minutes of crackling thunder and terrifying lightning, stinging hail, and freezing winds, we made it to the car. The parking lot was flooded, so we had to wade to shelter. I could barely even move, I felt so cold and my muscles were frozen in place! And we could see more lightning streaks in the sky. It was like we were facing the Apocalypse.

My dad and I started laughing, we were so happy. My father turned on the hot air blast and I got much warmer in that car. But as we were talking about how we were going to take nice hot showers when we got back to our campsite, we saw that the Tioga Pass Highway was blocked by Forestry Service barriers. There had been several landslides and water was just pouring off the side of the road like a waterfall. So we had to turn around and find refuge in the little store at Tuolumne Lodge. My father and I went straight to the fireplace and sat in front of it and ate some cookies. Many people were in there and didn’t look too scared. I wondered how they could possibly be so calm when there was this huge storm going on and the thunder was almost unbearable. After about an hour and a half of boredom, my dad asked if the road was cleared.

The clerk said yes. We were so happy we could go.

It was quite some storm. I can still see the white lightning streaks in my head I was so afraid I’d die. So afraid.

July 16, 2008


Anunt and Grandfather

Left: My great, great aunt, Evelyn and my grand dad, Gaynor
Right: My great, great aunt Evelyn and I

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