Rainstorms, cool weather and waters: kayak camping in the foothills

Friday afternoon I get a call. “Can you camp Sunday and Monday night on Lake Jocassee?” Sure thing! “Looks like rain and cooler weather.” What a relief from the heat that will be. I’ll bring my hammock and see who else might want to join us at the last minute. That’s how it got started.

We watched a thunderstorm developing SW of the ramp as we unloaded kayaks and then loaded them with gear. Rusty would join us in camp as he couldn’t get there at one. We had some light rain, but the storm stayed west of us. Set up camp at Rock Creek. Lisa had most of the firewood in camp by the time Bill and I had finished setting up. When Rusty arrived, he realized he didn’t have his hammock. I gave him the tarp I brought for sitting under if it rained while in camp. The highs were 79 and 80F and the lows in the lower 60s.

The next day we paddled up to the Toxaway River Bridge and ate lunch and soaked in the river some. Cold water and lying on sun warmed rocks afterward. what a great way to detox. Rusty renamed the river the “Detoxaway” Another storm came up and we paddled in the rain on the return to camp. I actually enjoy doing that. After the rain we collected more firewood for lighting the evening stories.

We broke camp the next morning and head back. On the way we checked out a hidden gem of a narrow cove with a small waterfall and an overhanging ledge. the endangered Oconee Bell grows there, and the water is colder than the lake. The lake was down this visit and made access easy when water is up it’s a tight Rhododendron tunnel to get back in there.

We ate Lunch at the halfway point on a small island and watched another storm build. We didn’t stay long and headed for a point that would put us in the lee of the wind. The storm hit us before we got there. There was some intermittent lightening to add excitement.

Once the worst of the storm pasted, we paddled on in the rain. Bill’s back was giving him a bit of trouble so to make it easier on him we set up an inline tow with all of us connected. We crossed the last two miles of open water this way as the rain came to a stop. Another memorable kayak camping trip.

Tents, tarps, and hammocks.


Lisa’s photo from the bridge.

Some flowers along the shore.

Sunset on Rock Creek.

Headed home.

Hidden cove

Lunch (photo by Lisa)

Racing the storm.

Storm won.

Made the lee of the point.

Back underway

Towing across open water (photo by Lisa)


I love the “idea” of tarp camping… But have never during warmer weather because I am a “mosquito magnet”. Not a problem for you down there?

Love the river swim hole. Doing that is some of the best part of camping and backpacking for me!


Great photos. Got to love old men in a swimming hole.
I have a chronic bad back. Does that mean I can expect a tow from now on?

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If you just want to tarp camp it’s possible to hang a bug net under the tarp, similar to what us hammock campers use.

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You can also pitch a mesh walled tent under the tarp for bug protection at night. I have a Kelty “Noah’s Tarp 16”; it is huge. I can put up my tent under it and still have space aplenty for kicking about.

Castoff: Great photos of Jocassee!

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Ditto that. I have one too and do the same to get sun and rain protection once I set up my cabin tent for a long stay at campgrounds.


Looks great - sometimes a couple of nights is all you need. I leave Friday for a week up in the Allagash. Your pictures are getting me psyched. Our weather is going to be a lot like you had - lots of clouds and maybe a couple of showers. Don’t think we will be doing any swimming - days in the 60s/70, nights in the 40s/50s. Canoes for us, and even a small trolling motor for the lakes. If they keep getting rain up there it is going to be a really quick trip. Can’t wait.

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If you can talk David into it! :wink:

@sing, roll your sleeping bag in a heavy ground cloth. Use an 8 x 10 tarp for rain protection and an Army surplus “pup-tent screen liner” for mosquitoes. Use a 6 ft hiking stick at the head, lash a second stick (or paddle) to that. While backpacking, two could share the shelter by lashing their backpacks to the cross hiking stick. The ground cloth goes down, then a ground pad (thermarest or equivalent), then sleeping bag, tie the mosquito net to the cross pole, and the other end gets staked from a line at the bottom.

The "pup-tent screen liner is for a two-person tent, so its very roomy. Tuck the screen between the ground cloth and the ground pad, which keeps the screen-enclosed space free of flying insects, as well as crawling bugs. If you have sufficient tree canopy, you won’t even need the tarp to keep off the dew.

The backpacks keep rain off your head. Lash the cross pole to other tarp eyelets and cover the backpack with a garbage bag if you expect rain. Drape your coat over the inside. Stake the bottom side straight out or to a tree. The sides get staked straight out. Although you have up to almost 6 ft at the head, the sides and bottom taper to about 1 ft from the ground. I’ve never had even wind blown rain get inside the protected back or low side. Two 4 ft wide ground cloth liners leaning up against the backpack will ensure that water flows under the waterproof liner. I prefer it over a tent - every tent I’ve owned leaks, then the water collects in the only waterproof part of the interior.