After years of car, motorcycle, and kayak camping it was time to try something new: Hammock Camping! A friend (who went on this trip) has one but didn't bring it. He had been talking to me about his Tarp Tent and how nifty it was. It was in doing homework on it that I found the hammock camping.
Original plan: Buy the ENO Double-nest One-Link, yet research from here lead me off that path and into a Hennessy Explorer Assym zip. Happy factor? Way the heck up there!
Thankfully I got it in just a few days before this trip. The idea: A few guys on dual sports seeking higher-elevation camping to avoid the heat and humidity. The hammocks fit perfectly though I did bring along a single solo tent just in case... It was nice having TWO entire tent systems in one side pocket. If the weather got nasty? Storage area! Along with the 3 of us who rode was another who brought a truck, trailer, and the redneck equivalent of a Motel 6. It was a blast at any rate!
So, onto the adventure:
Cruising through the forests after some windy roads. Gravel? Dirt? Clay? Bring it on! (the more technical the better)
Me and my trusty steed, Thumper. 2007 Suzuki DR-400s. Think of it as a reliable budget KTM that goes anywhere!
Found a little natural spring that someone ran a pipe into. Nice source of fresh water!
The first set of trees that I found looked perfect! Only to find out they were about 3' too short. I had no idea just how LONG this thing is! So, second set of trees were perfectly spaced but their trunks were HUGE. I had nothing to even remotely get around them. This was the last set which, if you notice, has a nice tree right next to it. Aside from the tarp being close on one side I never did touch.
(Btw, as I'm totally new feel free to point out any mistakes I made before I get to a place where making those mistakes is a REALLY bad thing!)
I did set the tarp a bit higher as there was roughly 0.0% chance of rain. it was more to keep branches, sap, etc. off and to help aim the airflow a bit. It worked very well for that.
This is with the stock suspension. I got the full Integrated Whoopie/Web system from Stu but as I got it Friday night I didn't have time to swap them out. I think I need to cut the zip-ties and pull back a cover before I can...?
I didn't bring it but also got a Kelty Noah 12. I figured if I get to a place for more than a known-dry day I'd bring it for the bike/kayak, etc. That way I can shelter them and the hammock.
Yes, he brought a trailer that he welded up rigging and turned into a Conestoga wagon, it worked great! Even brought along a shower, etc. He pretty much made a base camp while we scouted the area for adventures.
My friends Tarp Tent which, I must admit, was a sweet set-up!
A bit of the camp site
Yes, a full shower with heated water.
With camp set up it was time to grab the bikes and go. They were more fire-road oriented than my more adventursome riding buddies but it was still fun. We did venture up to Max Patch and I was getting ready to hike it when they balked. They had been there before and wanted to get some food in town.. oh well.
Playing along the mountain roads and taking the odd rest-break to enjoy the views.
Yep, just me...
The sidewalks in Hot Springs, NC are actually part of the AT Trail and the stores were a blast to wander through. I kept reminding myself that I didn't have any room left on the DR... not quite true, but it did save my wallet some damage, especially with the MSR tents!
Meandering back more forest roads and skipping down to Wolf Creek Waterfall.
THIS was a nice relaxing break!!! Too bad there were others already set up to camp. At the top of it there were two perfect tree's just off the trail.... I wonder....
Took a little roaming trip on the bike while the rest stayed at camp. It started closing in..then more, a bit more, I passed a few downed trees that blocked half the trail and then it was a matter of staying in the green stuff up to the waist and hope nothing sent me over the cliff.. Why do I love exploring like this? Especially solo?
Sunset was awesome even if this photo didn't do anything for justice. There were red bands along the trees where the setting sun cut through the branches. Awesome day!
As for my hammock set-up, I used a new cheapie Magellen mummybag (think it's rated to 30?) I got it as a toss-in-the tailbag thing with the idea of rain, mud, etc. would destroy it. naturally it's not a small bag, even squished, and nothing got to it even with some serious water crossings and mud runs last week. Time to upgrade to a Kelty or MSR that packs down to about 1/5th what this one does! I didn't use a pad and didn't feel I needed one.
Things I learned:
Trees may look the right distance but usually aren't.
I need to fiddle with the hang a few times to get it right. First time the ridgeline was taut and it wasn't comfortable to flop in. Second time I could bend it about 45 degrees and it was very comfy with a slight ridge. I'm thinking if I had let out the line about 2" more it would have given the perfect 90degree twist and that ridge would have been gone. Either way I slept like a rock! A little camp pillow that folds into itself rounded out that part.
With the early part of the eve still being humid I clipped a cheapie walmart fan ($1.63 in my other thread about walmart finds) and it worked perfectly to keep things circulating while I lay back and read a book. A few minutes of wriggling around to settle the sleeping bag within the hammock and all was good.
Overall, for my first nights experience the only thing that woke me were 3 owls talking to each other. One of them, about 24" tall, landed on the branch next to me. I could just make him out in the dark. I think he was curious to see what I was and he didn't stay long, but it was cool nonetheless.
Thanks for the info, group, it's certainly helped a good bit in setting me down the right path!