I like watching thunderstorms on mushrooms, but only at a healthy distance ever since I got zapped by a strike that hit my house in Tucson while I was holding the metal security door (I was running into the house to take shelter as bolts started dropping in the yard, next door, across the street; it was intense). It was not a good feeling and took me about ten minutes before I felt back to normal (I couldn't see or hear anything for a minute or so after it hit).
And while I was at U of A, 4 students got killed in a tent when it got hit by lightning up on Mt. Lemmon. That happened fairly regularly when I lived there, and probably still does, but is entirely preventable.
My rock climber friends taught me how to avoid getting killed by lightning, and everyone should know the rule: You can take shelter from lightning in the "shadow" of a tall object (like a cliff face) so long as you are at a distance away from the object that is less that the object's height.
So for example if there is a spire of rock that sticks up 50 feet higher than the surrounding area (or a building, or a giant tree), you won't get hit by lightning if you are standing more than a couple of feet away from the base of the spire (watch those ground-discharge currents!) but fewer than 50 feet away from it. Electricity takes the path of least resistance, so it's physically impossible for it to strike a few feet away from a 50' tall object. It will either strike the top of the object or the ground more than 50' away from the object.
So to properly take shelter from a thunderstorm when you get caught out in one you will probably get soaked and may get pelted by hail but at least you won't get fried (taking shelter from the heavy rain may put you in danger of being struck by lightning, e.g., you could be toast if you stand under a rock overhang to stay dry if it the rock above you gets struck). And tents are lightning-attractors, so don't be in one in a thunderstorm unless it's protected by something tall nearby.
To me the very best moments in the desert (psychedelic or sober) were right after one of those storms passes. You can still see the light show from the receding storm, the temperature is usually perfect, and the air smells like fresh sage. Just the memory of it is sublime.
I'd prefer to avoid javelinas while tripping too, but I always took coyotes showing up (even if I only heard them howling and raising hell as a pack in the distance) to be a very good sign.
One thing I learned about campsite selection in the desert is that due to the limited number of water sources, if you camp anywhere near one you will get a lot of traffic through and around your camp all night. That was mostly not an issue but there were a few times during the night I learned this when my gf and I would just look at each other silently with wide eyes as we listened to the sound of (startlingly large-sounding) claws scraping over rock as whatever it was slowly walked through the brush inches outside our tent to get to the water (then back again as it left).
Edited by TVCasualty, 25 August 2019 - 01:31 PM.