I've been wanting an opportunity to give my new tarp and PLUQ a test hang in some less than ideal weather. Well Monday evening that opportunity presented itself. A strong line of thunderstorms and following rain was predicted to move through north Georgia late in the evening. According to the weather reports the intensity of the storms would probably decrease should they hit later in the evening rather than earlier. I was already planning to go up to Young Harris College in N. Georgia on Tuesday so I decided to take a chance and make it an overnighter.
Now normally I wouldn't intentionally go hanging in a thunderstorm...something about being connected to a tree with lightening popping around isn't too appealing. However, with my truck parked nearby, I knew I had an ace in the hole and could bail and be safe and dry very quickly if needed.
I headed out from my office mid-afternoon, planning to do a little geocaching on the way north. Made a stop in Helen, Ga for some supper then set up camp just after dark. This was the first time I'd used my newly finished PLUQ...I'll definitely be adding some triangle thingies to the suspension but overall it worked pretty well with a basic shock cord suspension.
By 9:00 camp was set up and I was kicked back in a camp chair enjoying a nice cigar. Around 11:00ish the weather started to roll in so I stashed my chair in the truck and crawled into my sleeping bag in my hammock. Luckily the weather prognosticators were right and the storm lost some of its punch and wasn't too bad in my area. The closest lightening was 5-6 miles away based on times from the flash to the thunder boom. Closer than I would have liked but not quite close enough to drive me into the truck.
Within an hour the lightening had passed, the wind had picked up and the temperature was starting to drop...and I was high, dry and warm. At some point during the night the wind pulled two of my tarp stakes from the ground and I found myself only half covered but when I looked around to assess my situation I looked up to see crystal clear skies and lots of stars. I also noticed my backside was getting cold (temps bottomed out in the low 40s). Apparently the gust of wind has also shifted my underquilt leaving my underside partially exposed. It took a bit of squirming and reaching around under my hammock to take care of that little issue but once my PLUQ was resituated my backside was once again warm in fairly short order. Aside from the wind rocking me around occasionally the rest of the night was pretty uneventful and I slept quite well.
I was quite pleased with everything in general, and with my PLUQ in particular. Between it, the sleeping bag I was using and a set of midweight thermals I was quite warm at 42 degrees and probably could have gone a few degrees lower. The tarp did well aside from the stakes pulling up which was probably my own fault for not seating them deeper than I did (didn't have a hammer and didn't think about finding a rock).
Although my wife and friends thought I was nuts for going, I thought it turned into a fairly successful trip...