Hey y’all. I had to miss this year’s Sept. Dolly Sods hang due to a family circumstance but I was lucky enough to go car camping there this weekend with friends. If anyone reads any of my posts, a lot of them are about how cold I sleep. If a bag says it’s good to 20 degrees, for me that means 30 or 35. If anyone knows Dolly Sods, WV, you know it can snow there any time of year! The forecast was sunny and clear both Sat. and Sun. and my two camping friends were predicting a low in the 20’s for the night. They use tents and thought I was crazy for hammocking! (You all know the look.)
The temps dropped fast when the sun went down. We stayed at Red Creek campground and the sky was so clear that you didn’t need a flashlight with the half moon glowing. With no cloud cover I started thinking about that low temp again!
First thing I’d like to do is give a shout out to my Caldera Cone setup. I was the first to have water boiling for dinner. Ann was using a liquid fuel stove and before she had hers connected, wind screened, and lit -- my water was steaming. She was surprised the alcohol stove worked so well in the cold temps. I love my Caldera Cone. I used the original stove that came with the setup. The priming pan certainly helped getting it lit quickly.
I haven’t been cold camping for quite a while and it wasn’t until I got all bundled up that night that I realized what a JRB commercial I am for cold weather hammock camping. Used their big tarp, with one end tied closed to keep out the wind. I’ve been using this tarp for years and it hasn’t let me down yet. Had the Mt. Washington 4 for my UQ, a bit of Thinlight pad for protection from CBS, a No Sniv with extra down for the top quilt. Used JRB down sleeves as extra protection on my feet. Learned that one from Shug. And I had the JRB down hood for sleeping. Even in 20 something degrees I had to vent the hood to keep from sweating. Now this my friends is a serious cold weather hat!
Even though I was car camping I wanted to see how light I could go. So I left my ski jacket at home. That evening when others were pulling out their heavy winter jackets, I put on my No Sniv quilt and sleeves. Did my friends make fun of me? Sure did! Did other campers stare? Sure did. Did I care? -- A bit! Did my backpacker friend want to try it on? Sure did! Was I warm out and about in camp! I sure was. Was I warm that night in the hammock. Yes, I was!
At about 8:30 pm I threw my hot water bottle into my hammock to warm things up.
Went to bed at 9:30. Even with the hot water bottle it took some time to warm up my quilts. But after that I slept toasty warm. At 1:30 the coyotes started howling off in the distance. They didn't howl for very long. Just enough to wake all the dogs in camp and get them going for a good while.
Sometime at about 4 PM I started getting too hot and started taking off hat and gloves and venting quilts.
The next morning Molly-dog’s water pail was iced up. I thought I could break the ice with a big pointy stick, but no dice. The water was frozen solid. But the sun was out and warmed up our campsite quickly. Once again the Caldera Cone setup worked like a charm and I had hot chocolate in no time.
Of course the requisite cold morning question came up: "How'd you sleep?" We all agreed that it took some time for our bags/quilts to warm up. We all laughed because each of us admitted to wondering if we were going to be cold all night! But we all warmed up and slept well. Both tenters had large, thick foam mattresses that you could not take backpacking. I was proud that my gear was light enough to backpack.
We then took our hot drinks and sit pads across the road to the bird banding area and watched the sun rise higher in the sky enjoying the view of the multiple ridge lines. The birds were definitely out and about. I got buzzed a few times as they flew up the cliffs and right over head. Close enough to make me duck!
Right then we remembered to set our watches back and grinned that we got the added bonus of an extra hour at the Sods with friends. Doesn’t get much better than that!