O for a grove of pine trees, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
Less of the mighty oak, from which do hang
A sparse legion of dusty hammockers.
Sorry Will Shakespeare! It was a long drive back and this sort of carryings on keeps me awake!
Oaks are ... difficult.
Pines are nice.
Hanging on a hillside, although we brag about "we don't need a flat spot" gets really OLD after 36 hours of staggering around. I nearly lay down and kissed the flat ground of the trail on the hike back. I may not NEED a flat spot, but I WANT a flat spot!
Disclaimers and bad poetry aside, I had a blast! Took a lot of photos and played some more with the video function of my little camera (video coming later).
I got to the trailhead around 4pm on Friday, hiked the 3 easy miles to Gibson Pond. It has been a wet year so there were still plenty of entertaining water crossings. I wore Chacos so I just waded right in.
The park-guy I called earlier that week warned me that the trail to the pond was just a couple of tire tracks. He was not kidding!
Here's a pic of gRaFFiX coming down the "trail" Sunday morning.
Only my mad topo map reading skills (ok, I was lucky and looked behind me at the right moment) helped me find the trail. I got to the pond and started looking around for hangin' trees.
Oh me, oh my.
Oh dear, oh dear, whatever shall we do!?
Oaks grow in splendid isolation. They do not play well with others. If they do share, it is because there is abundant moisture present, which means OTHER vegetation, like poison oak, also shares.
The only poison oak-free trees I could spot were 2 or 3 elevation lines up from the pond, so I started staggering up the hillside though knee-high brown grass and 5 different kinds of stickers.
Yeah, this'd work for at least a few.
Oh boy, are folks going to be "surprised" by this location!
gRaFFix's setup will give you an idea of the slope we camped on:
I set up my stuff (my chosen trees were a little far apart - so I had some trouble getting enough sag and still clearing the ground) and puttered around, hoping other hangers would be able to find the site.
Pic snipped from video footage (I can't aim well, not at all!)
I was just talking to myself (videoing is a great way to kill time) when I thought I heard something human-like over the drone of my voice.
I made my way out of the hammock and hollered back. It was gRaFFiX, on the other side of the pond, with his mountain bike.
Turns out he'd missed the path, found the other end, and bushwacked his way from the far side. He is the king of stickers. And he looked like a bandit, with his HF buff pulled up to filter out the bugs.
He managed to find a single tree hang even further up the ridge from mine. He got there right at prime mosquito time and suffered for it. It was nice lying in a blackbird and hearing the skeeters on the OUTSIDE, whining about not getting to the INSIDE.
That's an old ENO single serving as a gear hammock under his Blackbird
The hill was a pain to go up and down, the water full enough of sediment to make my Katadyn filter element cry and die, fortunately I had plenty of esbit tabs along and could boil the water to a safe yet unclear state.
Sunday morning gRaFFiX got to show off his nifty First Need filter in a cleaner stream crossing a little ways back on the trail and I had clear water to drink. Yay!
gRaFFiX and I ended up being the only two overnight hangers. Jareth and Drew? (a friend of Jareth's) made a brief appearance Saturday, but they simply could not find a good spot to hang. Jareth wanted to hang near Drew since I think this would have been Drew's first night hanging but the oaks did not cooperate!
It was in the 50s at night and mid 80s during the day. Friday night had occasional gusts but Saturday night was calm.
My Crowsnest underquilt was over kill but worked well anyway. Friday night I had the head-end cord cinched up so the UQ kept squirting out sideways when I tossed and turned. I figured it out and fixed it on Sunday.
I used a JRB Shenandoah for a top quilt. I almost brought along my very wide very thin foam sheet to try that out for alternate under-insulation, but I did not. Now I kind of wish I'd had it to try out on Saturday night. Oh well.
I had my tarp (OES) deployed both nights - I was glad I had done so the first night since it did block some of the gusts, but I probably could have left it tied up on Saturday since it was quite calm and a bit warmer. But by Saturday night I was sick of staggering around on the hillside and did not want to have to go out and stake the tarp later if the wind came up.
We hung out in the shade and talked and talked and chatted and rambled and told stories. It was a very relaxing weekend.
It was just so COOL to see another hammocker's gear in person. Hangs are the best and thank you gRaFFiX for getting this one going.
gRaFFiX eats very well: bread for dipping in olive oil and vinager. Yum!
We saw turkeys and quail, gRaFFiX saw a deer, I saw ducks and we managed to tag team a cute little snake on the way out and got this picture.
This was so much fun that we talked a bit about other locations for future Nor Cal hangs. I think we should do some backpacking hangs and some car camping hangs.
A fall return to Coe might be in the cards so we could scout some locations for future hangs. It is a really beautiful place with many stupidly steep trails and I can't wait to go back. But I'm waiting until late fall or early spring when it is cooler and there is water, and wildflowers, and when the thistles have not done their prickly thing yet.
The upcoming video will be filled with more pictures like this as well as stupid video camera tricks: