Last weekend, I hiked in the North Cascades National Park in northwest Washington state. The trip report with many photos is here on NWhikers.net.
A few hammock comments for you all...
I used an Eagles Nest Outfitters (ENO) Doublenest hammock, a new ENO Guardian bug net, Speer PeaPod III, 8'x10' Equinox silnylon tarp with a thin foil space blanket.
I camped at Pierce Mountain Camp which is subalpine (clumpy tree growth) with designated tent pads.
The 8x10 tarp is a little too short for the ENO-D when pitched lengthwise. It's longest and fully covers the treehuggers when pitched diagonally but side protection from wind and rain is not as good.
A cold front moved in during the evening and early night and it was very windy. Wind blew dirt and grit into my food. I pitched the tarp lengthwise. The wind was so bad it ripped 2 tent stakes out of the ground. In early night, the wind pressed the trap against the hammock & bug net which was not a problem since it was dry.
The temperature dropped down to maybe 45 degrees F (?). I was not warm (but not cold) during the windy, early part of the night since the wind blew the heat away from outside of the PeaPod. This is a problem, especially since I pitched the tarp as low and taut as possible. The nightime temp was above average. Just the wind made it cool. I had to sleep with my raincoat as a VBL with a thin hoody and thin wool Pendleton shirt over that. Over my legs, was just synthetic longjohns with fleece socks.
The PeaPod's velcro enclosure leaves dimples on the ENO Guardian bug net. I hate the idea of velcro bunching the threads/mesh of the beautiful, new bug net.
Finding good hanging trees, wrapping treehuggers, stringing up the hammock and stringing up the tarp took a little too long in the high winds at this elevation. The hammock was superb when camping a windless, low elevations the first night out. But here, I felt differently. Just throwing up a little tent or bivy sack on the tent pad look mighty convenient and protected from the wind.
It was so windy I had to build a windscreen of rocks to protect the new MSR Pocket Rocket from gusts. I like my old Campingaz Bluet stove better but the Pocket Rocket is so much lighter. It seems it does not put out as much heat as the Bluet and the MSR fuel canisters seem to empty faster.
For one recipe, I left the package of salmon in the car. The cheap WalMart frying pan with handle cut off was great for powdered eggs. One day I want to make salmon patties with salmon packets, powdered eggs, flour, corn meal, salt & pepper mix fried in the pant, perhaps with a heisted tartar sauce packet as condiment.
My ground dwelling combo of North Face down bag, Big Agnes air mattress, plastic ground sheet, 8x10 tarp, and Epco Sleepscreen I is 4 oz. lighter than the hammock combo on this trip.
Through experience, I'm backing off a little from trying to be a hammock camping purist. Due to the climate and terrain of the Northwest and the West, sometimes sleeping on the ground is more appropriate. It brings me no joy to realize this. I wish I could camp in a hammock every time. But in official designated campsites at higher, subalpine elevations and obviously in desert or sagebrush steppe, hammocking is not feasible or the most comfortable option due to high winds or low temperatures.
From here on out, I think I'm backing off a bit on hammocking to about 50% - 75% of the time. For now, I give up being a hammock purist and am going to quit fighting Nature's realities and let the elevation, terrain and bureaucratic requirements dictate if I use a hammock or tarp/tent. If I lived in a region of the US where there were a lot of small trees, rocky ground at low elevations, I'd probably feel differently. Living in a part of the US where camps may not have good trees and/or may be too cold & windy, hammocks may not be the best camping option.
One general comment about the North Cascades Park: when I was getting my backcountry permit in the Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount, I was the only backpacker. All the other folks were mountain climbers from Seattle.
The North Cascades is different from other regions of the USA. There's a lot of off-trail hiking required to visit the best, trails & bridges don't exist in most areas, road access may be washed out and travel may not be on well-marked, designated trails. The Park Service considers the North Cascades one of the last pristine roadless wilderness biosphere preserves in the Lower 48 and manages it as such. Basically, North Cascades National Park is not a "Joe Shmoe" hiker-friendly park like the others (unfortunately IMO). In this national park, Nature comes first, people's recreational needs second.
Sorry above the huge photos. I don't know how to make the thumbnails appear in the body of the trip report expand when clicked. Please send a private message if you know.