I didn't see a forum for trip reports...so sorry if this is the wrong place.
When: This past Saturday/Sunday, Nov. 11-12
Where: S.E. Michigan, at a state park
What: My 2nd overnight shakedown, only this was in cold weather
My Equipment: HH Ultralite Backpacker Asym, JRB Nest underquilt, WM 20-degree mummy bag, Wal-mart blue CCF pad cut to fit inside the hammock, MacCat Deluxe Tarp
Saturday's Weather: Highs in the upper 30's, lite rain/drizzle, 10-15 mph winds, Lows in the low 30's/high 20's but the windchill was hell
Sunday's Weather: Highs in the upper low 40's, tiny snow flakes from time to time, no wind
I hiked into the campsite, 7 miles. Got there at around 3:30 p.m. It was FREEZING if I stopped moving around. One of the other women hiking with me had a watch w/a thermometer and it said it was 38 degrees, but did not take the wind chill into account. It definitely felt like it was in the 20's.
It wasn't raining, but the wind was coming straight off the lake (I was about 100 yards from the shore) so I chose 2 trees that would have the wind blowing directly towards the body of my tarp. I tied my tarp up, but left it in the skins. Then I put my hammock up, slid the skins back and let my underquilt get some loft. I staked out my tarp and probably had about 1 1/2 feet from the ground to the bottom of my tarp (remember I've got a deluxe...the biggest one). Changed into more layers, put my sleeping pad and bag in my hammock.
By this time it was about 4:30 and was only getting colder. I made some dinner and it started misting out. Couldn't start a fire w/the saturated wet wood, so at 5:27 p.m. I called it a day and went to seek refuge in my hammock. It was sprinkling, and the last temp. check from my friend was 34 degrees, but the sun was still up and again..the wind was COLD!!!
Round 1 with the cold:
I was wearing wool socks, mid-weight patagonia thermal top/bottom, l.s. marmot shirt, wigwam cap. I was chilled and my lower body was uncomfortably cold w/my feet feeling like ice. Got up around 7:30 p.m. to water the leaves and decided to add my micropuff vest and add my silk bag liner just around my lower body (those things are a pain to get into inside of your bag!)
Round 2 with the cold:
With added layers, my upper body was getting warmer, but my lower body was still a little cold. Feet still like ice, but legs a tad warmer. I have to say I was surprised a silk bag liner could make that much of a difference. I also added my balaclava and put my wigwam cap on over that. I felt like I was losing a lot of heat from my head. I ate a snickers bar and ended up falling asleep for a few hours, but woke again around 11:30 p.m., needing to pee......again. As many of you know, if you have to continuously pee throughout the night (more than normal) then it's a sign your body can't heat the urine enough, and it's telling you to get rid of it. I wasn't quite warm enough yet.
Round 3 with the cold:
I got up to pee and when I crawled out of my hammock, it was snowing tiny little icy flakes. When I got back to my hammock, I decided to adjust the side of my tarp that the wind was hitting, lower to the ground because I could feel the wind moving over me inside the hammock. I moved it inward and now only had about 6 inches of space between the ground and the tarp. I also put my hiking pants back on (which were dry). My last step was to go ahead and do hammock gymnastics and get my full body inside my silk bag liner, inside of my bag. NOT easy, but the process did help me build up body heat at least! So this time, with added clothing, readjusted tarp, empty bladder (again), I was finally warm. Just by adding my hiking pants, my feet totally warmed up.
It was a learning experience. I did finally get warm, but I ended up spending 14 hours in my hammock, which would have been fine if I didn't feel so constricted by my mummy bag (felt that way in my ground-dwelling days too...so it's no fault of the hammock). I don't think, however, that I would have been warm if I had unzipped it and used it as a quilt. I feel like I might need a fleece layer for my lower body in addition to my thermals. I don't trust my hiking pants will always be dry enough to wear to bed, and I had been wearing my Frogg Togg rain pants all day to block the chilling wind and light rain.
Important Lesson Learned:
Location...location....location....that's what Ed Speers and all the other experts say. This is so true. If I wasn't restricted to designated campsites, I would have set up my hammock back up the trail a bit where I could have had total protection from the wind. The wind is our enemy when hammocking in cold weather.
How'd the Ground-Dwellers Compare?
I had 2 friends with me, one in a tarptent, the other in a Big Agnes tent. One person said her feet never got warm and she was tossing and moving positions all night, the other said she had to add some layers and it took a bit to get warm enough, but she woke me up snoring in the middle of the night (from about 30 feet away!) so I think she slept ok. I think it's safe to say that I would have had the same cold-issues in my tent and I should have started off with more layers in the beginning.
So that's that. I'd like to get out into the teens, since I'm sure I'll experience that on the AT next year. I'll post some pics tomorrow.