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View Full Version : First Hang, Gila Wilderness Trip Report



eugeneius
05-21-2008, 22:52
Hello all! So I announced last week I was heading up to the Gila Wilderness for the weekend 5/17-5/18 to do some recon for an extended week in the Gila Wilderness sometime in June and promised pics and such, this trip was also going to be my first official hang in my HH clone built recently with help from Headchange's tutorial. Well, the trip was absolutely amazing and the hammock rocked! I see myself hanging every opportunity I get and if conditions are any better than this past weekend then that will likely be everytime I'm in the backcountry.

My concerns going into this trip centered around lack of experience with the hammock on the trail and the weather, as I was going to be setting up camp at 10,400ft. at the saddle of Whitewater Baldy and Mogollon Baldy minus an underquilt or tarp. We were also heading up to the high country tailing behind a low pressure system, so there was residual moisture and at elevation this time of year who knows. So there were some challenges and I felt somewhat under prepared.

First off, I underestimated the altitude, I live in Las Cruces, NM at an elevation of 3,700ft, and the Crest Trail began at 9,000+ft. reaching a peak elevation of 10,400 ft, our resting point for the evening. Needless to say, for my second backpacking trip for the season, my fitness was tested. The first two miles involved strenuous switchbacks heading south which climbed up the north face of the Mogollon Range of the Gila Wilderness, after the second mile at around 9,800ft, the snow began to make its presence known along the trail, even after the Ranger in the Glenwood District advised us we wouldn't see ANY snow or ice on the trail. I had my doubts.

The downfall of trees and abundant snow drifts indicated that no one really had made it far up this way yet, maybe a handful of soloists and a small group or two. The only people we saw on our trip was a Forest Service Trail crew, they had been staying in the backwoods for the week clearing the fall from winter, what a job, those guys are hardcore! The real freaky moment of our trip was coming across a twin engine airplane wreck alongside the trail, it was a slightly frightening experience as we weren't sure of the time of the incident and thought we were going to have to alert authorities, I literally stumbled over a propellor in the middle of the trail, we finally found the wreckage and it was eerie seeing something like this 60 miles away from any real development. No bodies found, after gawking and foraging the wreckage we pressed on not talking much, but the beauty of the wilderness quickly extinguished any fears.

We made it to Hummingbird Saddle and set up camp at an elevation of 10,400 according to my altimeter. We had distant views to our NW and NE as this camp hugs Whitewater Baldy in the Mogollon Range. I couldn't have envisioned a better place to call it a night, beautiful dense forest and views for miles to Arizona and New Mexico, we had spotty sleet and snow for a few minutes then it cleared for a near full moon evening. Hanging my HH clone wasn't difficult at all, as there were abundant trees perfectly spaced out. I built my hammock out of a single layer of 1.9 oz. ripstop nylon and I'm currently using the descending ring system attached with lightweight wiregate carabiners and 3/4 inch webbing. I adapted a detachable ridgeline much like Headchange indicated in his tutorial with the loops going through the whipping, however I used one Figure 9 carabiner and was able to adjust tension and length on my ridgeline quite quickly and effectively. The temperatures dropped down just below freezing with no wind, I used my thermarest lite self inflate 3/4 for my pad and a 3/4 zip Slumberjack bag rated at 30F. My warmth was really provided by my midweight polypro thermal base and full fleece upper and a North Face down vest, wool socks, and a nice toasty beenie.

I stayed toasty all night to my surprise, as it seems everyone here gets pretty geared up for cold weather. I only woke at 12:00am when I had a visitor come right up to the hammock and started snorting and then left, kinda scary but I was tucked up inside my bag and pretty zonked, so I just hung low and fell back asleep, then at 3:30 am I had to piss, no problem though, getting in and out wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, my gear hammock I made ended up being used as a ground cloth which was gentle on my bag when getting in and out. I woke up at 6:30 nice and refreshed and I had the best night of sleep in the woods, rested and refreshed, no sore spots or aches, floating in my sleep was uncomparable to any form of ground dwelling. Hanging in a hammock is underrated, my buddy froze his arse off as the ground chilled him quite a bit, I was fine.

Broke camp around 7:30, hit the trail and blazed 11 miles on Sunday, descending 3,500ft through some snow, moss, ferns, aspens, thick Douglas Fir, Pine, Juniper, and through dense foliage along Whitewater creek, amazing. Climbed back up a grueling 2000 +ft which kicked my arse to a trailhead west of our origin and met up with the Forest Service Crew and hitched a ride in their pick up back to my Jeep. Awesome trip and I'm hooked on the hammock from here on out. I'm already thinking of how I can modify my HH clone and add to it. Thanks for all your input and the info you guys bestow. Sorry this is so long winded. Hope you enjoy some of the pics here at my flickr site:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157605189726719/
Eugeneius :cool:

angrysparrow
05-21-2008, 23:03
Another fantastic trip report! Looks like a great time.

xirebos
05-21-2008, 23:11
Nothing long-winded about it IMHO.:) And, great pics - loved the one you labeled "Dense Forest."

Thanks for giving back to site.

GrizzlyAdams
05-21-2008, 23:19
enjoyed the report, thanks.

A couple of years ago I was hiking up in the Sangre De Christos mountains in NM, getting my butt kicked by the climbs just as you have described. Brought back memories.

Grizz

Tobit
05-22-2008, 04:40
Awesome TR, thanks!

HappyCamper
05-22-2008, 06:06
Glad you had such a good trip, but the mother in me has to ask what were you gonna do if the weather turned wet on you in the night without a tarp? I live in West Virginia and all I do is get wet!

Mule
05-22-2008, 06:34
enjoyed the report, thanks.

A couple of years ago I was hiking up in the Sangre De Christos mountains in NM, getting my butt kicked by the climbs just as you have described. Brought back memories.

Grizz
Grizz, I spent five days in the Sangre De Christo's a few years back too. Hiked from the Great Sand Dunes to a lake at 11,000 feet.
Really nice and well written report. Thanks.

NCPatrick
05-22-2008, 07:00
Thanks for the trip report. It would be spooky exploring that plane crash. I'd be afraid of what I'd find. Glad your hammock exceeded your expectations! Ever figure out what it was that visited you during the night?

Peter_pan
05-22-2008, 08:10
I hung on the Gila river 1/2 mile before the old indian cave ruins in 2006.... that area is great anywhere.... Thx for the report.

Pan

eugeneius
05-22-2008, 08:28
Glad you had such a good trip, but the mother in me has to ask what were you gonna do if the weather turned wet on you in the night without a tarp? I live in West Virginia and all I do is get wet!


Yeah I was going to admit defeat and crawl in the tent my buddy brought up.

eugeneius
05-22-2008, 08:32
Thanks for the trip report. It would be spooky exploring that plane crash. I'd be afraid of what I'd find. Glad your hammock exceeded your expectations! Ever figure out what it was that visited you during the night?

No I didn't, I asked the dude I came up with, he heard it too but didn't get out to see what it was. It could have been anything really, black bear are increasing in number up here, mexican wolves are returning, however they're pretty sketchy and keep their distance. We heard two large elk calling the next morning near camp so? Sure did raise my heart rate for a bit though.

HappyCamper
05-22-2008, 08:34
Yeah I was going to admit defeat and crawl in the tent my buddy brought up.

That's kinda what I guessed. Good, now I don't have to give you that "MOM" talkin' to.

Thanks again for pictures and report!

headchange4u
05-22-2008, 09:26
Great report.

Shug
05-22-2008, 09:34
Fine report eugeneius...... yeah, those plane crash pix were spooky!
I am glad you had success in your hammock and you were smart to take members advice to heart. Makes the first hang a do-able thing.....
Tarps are not too difficult to make yourself.... just practice the flat-felled seam first!
Trip on and walk light and hang happy,
Shug

BillyBob58
05-22-2008, 23:30
Grizz, I spent five days in the Sangre De Christo's a few years back too. Hiked from the Great Sand Dunes to a lake at 11,000 feet.
Really nice and well written report. Thanks.

I also have some Great Sand dunes ( in winter) and Sangre de Christos memories, from so long ago ( 1976). But I do fly right over there from time to time on trips out west.