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  1. #1
    Senior Member Shrewd's Avatar
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    Pacific Crest Trail 2019 Thru hike hammock overview

    Hey folks!
    Like Two Speed before me, I cast off my Appalachian roots and headed west this year, starting the PCT as a northbounder on April 22nd. I finished on October 1st.



    Despite the weather, my hike remained a continuous Northbound push (ie no flip flopping). We had a very unusual year that had a record cold/wet spring, a famously high snowpack in the Sierra (and much further north), and a pretty early winter in the North.
    More on this in a bit.

    I used almost the same setup I used on the AT two years ago; if you look at my post history you can find a more detailed thread about it, but hereís the short list:



    Warbonnet Blackbird XLC
    Still love it, and it still has life left in it after two Thrus, though I may replace it with something lighter like a half zipped or Darien

    Hammock Gear dyneema Hex tarp
    Plenty of coverage; before Washington I rarely pitched it, unlike the AT where I set it up every night. Mandatory in Washington as it rained or snowed nearly every single night. I never really felt the need for doors.

    Mid-Atlantic Mountain Works Marcy 20 degree
    TQ. This thing has been beat to ****. I actually just washed it and dried it with tennis balls and it lofted up surprisingly nice, which makes me happy. The down started migrating to the sides when I used it on the ground in the desert and that sucked. Once I realized the problem I would fluff it up every night and that helped a lot. Never an issue in the hammock. 20 was warm in NorCal but a good catch all rating. I probably coulda used a 30 degree, especially a new one, for most of the trail and been fine, but Iím sure happy I had it in Washington.

    Loco Libre Gear Habanero 20 UQ
    My poor quilts took so much abuse. By Washington the down was clumped up and I had a hard time migrating it back down evenly and just kinda dealt with it. This isnít a knock on MAMW or LocoLibre - they just needed a good washing. The UQ performed well again, as I expected. A few very chilly and exposed nights cowboy camping in the desert this served double duty as a second top quilt as well, which provoked considerable envy amongst my companions

    I used Dutch cinch bugs with 15 foot straps
    Which was usually enough. Stingerz and fleas for the tarp tie outs, same as the AT.

    Actually the only real addition was an UQ protector, made by our very own Two Speed, who has a shop on Etsy. I was very happy with this; it provided a bit more warmth and helped with all the moisture in Washington. If anything I wished Iíd bought one to start with, as the wind in the desert was brutal at times and made for some miserable nights that could have been made much better with a UQP.




    Differences between AT and PCT

    The big thing heading west is starting in the desert. Thereís no way around it - youíve got to have a ground set up. Two Speed told me he hung maybe 70% of the time but for me it was closer to 50 before I traded the hammock for a tent. To be clear this was just in the desert.
    This was because I was with a group and enjoyed the dynamic and often chose to stop where the group did. If there were trees, nice. Otherwise I went to ground.
    For ground sleeping I added some mini carabiners to my tarp ridge line tie outs that I would then put my trekking pole tips through. The rest was easy. I also carried a pad - ultralight anathema! I confess that once I got used to the ground (my pad was the luxuriously thick sea to summit etherlight) I almost preferred it. Cowboy camping under the stars in the desert was truly wonderful, and a big reason why I was happy sticking with my group when there were no spots to hang.
    A few hundred miles into the desert it began getting quite cold (and wet) at nights, and that paired with the wind was causing me grief. Ultimately I replaced my hammock with a Lightheart Gear Solong6 (Iím a big dude at 6í3), mostly for the wind protection.



    I got my hammock back near the end of the Sierra. Iím quite certain I could have made the hammock work in the Sierra; with all the snow it may have even been easier than finding a good tent spot at times.

    After Mammoth I was hammocking full time and found decent slots to hang every night. I even saw a few other hammocks. Itís not as easy as on the AT, where hammocking is the way to go, IMO, but I still found a spot every night. On a few occasions it was difficult finding a pair of trees the right distance apart that werenít super wide - twice I didnít have enough cordage to hang my tarp due to huge trees, and those were after hard days and I whined. One rainy day in norcal I remember ranting to my buddy that never before had I been so surrounded by trees yet so unable to find a spot because there were all either dead or humongous.

    One thing I noticed this time around is that my top quilt, particularly the footbox, would often get wet. Iíve rarely had condensation issues on the East coast in a hammock, so this surprised me. It was very common to have to dry things out during lunch. Once we got into the endless rains of Washington, this really sucked. Eventually everythingís wet. You canít dry anything out and half the time Iíd be setup inside a rain cloud. My quilts hardly ever got wet on the AT, and that was a very rainy year, but out west it was another beast.
    Going on a 5 day stretch of rain, where you rarely can even see more than 20 yards, and crawling into a damp quilt effing sucks, but eventually my body heat would dry it out enough. This is rare out west, and at this point in northern Washington it simply became a battle of attrition.
    I do believe that the hammock kept me relatively drier than my ground dwelling fellows, just as it did on the AT




    In the North, particularly in the Cascades, I had to think a bit more about where I planned to camp in advance. Trees are abundant but a lot of established camp spots can be near or on ridges and with the snow and cold we had that just wasnít going to happen. Temperatures were at 20 or below at night and my gear was beat up and we were so close we just dealt with it - on a norma year this probably wouldnít have been an issue at all. Realistically this probably only even affected me once; after touching Canada and turning around (I waited too long to renew my passport like an idiot and therefore did not get a permit to enter Canada). Iíd hoped to go 12 miles back south before camping and quickly realized I wasnít going to push that far and either had to stop after 6 or climb up a steep peak and set up somewhere on an exposed ridge with a blizzard approaching. 6 it was! And then a very fast 24 miles back to Hartís Pass, where I must have looked like a begging puppy desperate for a ride out of there.




    The only other PCT vs AT issue I can think of that affects hammocking could be burn areas. There are some pretty significant burns and at least twice I found myself worrying, at the end of a day, that Iíd either have to hike into the night or risk hanging from a dead tree, but it always ended up working out.
    Last edited by Shrewd; 10-20-2019 at 08:41.

  2. #2
    Tumbleweed's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting about your PTC adventure. Memory making experience...
    T

  3. #3
    all secure in sector 7 Shug's Avatar
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    That was an insightful read.
    Whoooooo Buddy)))))
    Shug
    Whooooo Buddy)))) All Secure in Sector Seven

  4. #4
    Senior Member Vanhalo's Avatar
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    I just came here to understand your struggles with finding trees on the PCT.
    50%....that's a lot.
    "...in Florida, she felt air conditioning for the first time, and it was cold and unnatural upon her skin."
    https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cdo-web
    http://www.atweather.org
    Hammock Insulation Temperature Testing Results Spreadsheet

  5. #5
    Senior Member Shrewd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shug View Post
    That was an insightful read.
    Whoooooo Buddy)))))
    Shug
    Wooo buddy!

    I confess that while I loved my hammock for the whole AT there were times on this one where I may have preferred a tent and Iím really not sure why.

    Maybe because I spent so much time getting used to the ground in the desert? I need to take my pup out and try my new Cage Creek pet palace now that Iím back in Va and get some quality hammock time. Maybe Shenandoah?

  6. #6
    Senior Member Shrewd's Avatar
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    Pacific Crest Trail 2019 Thru hike hammock overview

    Quote Originally Posted by Vanhalo View Post
    I just came here to understand your struggles with finding trees on the PCT.
    50%....that's a lot.
    That was just in the desert, and again only because I decided I enjoyed cowboy camping with my friends. Iím going to edit the post a bit to stress that. If I were solo Iím certain I could have hung more nights, even though often you get creative:

    Hanginí in a horse stall


    To be clear; from when I got my hammock back towards the end of the Sierra through to the end of the trail in Canada I hung every single night. Trees are abundant and Oregon in particular is a wonderful place to bring a hammock. Washington too, I suppose, if everything hadnít been so awful.
    Last edited by Shrewd; 10-20-2019 at 08:45.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Oct 2014
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    Thanks so much for your report! One thing I found very interesting was the fact that you found the standard HG Hex tarp to be more than sufficient-even with all the rain you encountered. Many here say that a wider tarp and doors are a must-have.

  8. #8

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    Jun 2013
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    Nice report. Hammock era can always find something to hang on.

    Iím the same way about doors. Just donít find they do much. I would rather have the UQ protector than doors.

    Thanks for the report. When I get to hike the PCT Iíll keep this in mind.

  9. #9
    Senior Member BillyBob58's Avatar
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    What a wonderful report! And a lot of useful info here regarding moisture accumulation in insulation, and possible benefits for UQPs. Leaves me wondering if VBs and/or synthetic insulation would have been any help. But, regardless, what a battle to stay dry and out of the wind! And such a battle to stay dry out west, rather than on the AT! Who would have thunk it? But you made it, congrats!

  10. #10

    Join Date
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    I also wanted to ask. Did you carry the pas the entire trail or just desert south of the Sierras?

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