The 2023 Idaho Rendezvous started off with a successful work project near Elk River, Idaho. Fourteen volunteers from across the state pulled ¾ mile of barbed wire fencing that was restricting wildlife and needed to be removed. After the work project, as volunteers sat around camp relaxing after a long day of effort, a microburst touched down in Pines RV Park, outside of Harvard, Idaho.
A microburst is a column of sinking air spurred from the belly of thunderstorms. It blew through camp, tipping over trees, destroying trucks and trapping participants in their campers. “It’s like a tornado dropped out of the sky,” says Wayne Brood, Northern Idaho’s regional director. “It went from zero to 100 mile an hour winds in just an instant.” The microburst was followed by the hardest rainstorm that Brood had ever experienced in his 63 years of living in Idaho.
Brood was in his camper when this tree broke off from about 20 feet away and flew over his camper, landing amongst a group of volunteers who had been relaxing outside. You can see it here crushing a picnic table. Broods’ wife obtained a black eye from the tree, but luckily nobody else was injured.
A group of volunteers were camped a few spaces down from Brood and were outside when the microburst touched down. One of them suggested they get in their pickups and get out of the campground, but they decided to head into their camper instead. A tree fell across both of their pickups, smashing in the cab of one and damaging the other.
The annual Dutch oven dessert contest had been scheduled for that evening, but Dutch ovens were left full of water from the downpour, abandoned by the chefs during the storm. Everyone ended up going home a few hours after the storm had passed, cutting the weekend short.
“It was a really great weekend right up to that moment,” says Brood. Despite the weather, RMEF volunteers plan to return next year to their annual rendezvous to enjoy each other’s company, work hard for elk country and (hopefully) feast on Dutch oven desserts!