Just got back from a week in the NC/Va mountains. The wife and I drove up to the Blue Ridge Parkway and started north ( the Blue Ridge Parkway officially starts in Va and ends in NC ). While our goal was to get away for a week and do some car camping/hanging and end up at the MAHHA hang, it turned into a fall color explosion as the the leaves were turning brite yellow, gold and red colors plus the visibility was excellent.
As we were car camping, we were able to load up the van with all our camping gear and extra food so we were not roughing it.
We hung in our Warbonnet Blackbirds, double layers
The first night we stopped at the Mt Pisgah campgrounds. Elevation just under 5,000 feet. The last time I stayed there as a kid in the 60's a bear got our food. This time our food stayed locked up in the van at night. Told the Park Ranger while checking in we were hammock hangers and the Ranger marked us down as tent camping. The rates were $16.00 for the night and Mt Pisgah is the only campground along the Blue Ridge Parkway with hot showers
We only found one campsite, D25, that was suitable for hanging at least 2 hammocks. Temps dropped to the low 40's that night. We started off with just our our sleeping bags. I slept in my hiking shorts and fleece jacket (Columbia if anyone is interested in the brand) over my my T-shirt and a North Face 20 degree rectangular bag along with my trusty military poncho liner. My wife slept in her bluejeans and her fleece jacket over her T-shirt, her Snow Lion mummy sleeping bag (this sleeping bag is 35+ years old and still rocks) and a couple of fleece throws. About 1 AM it got cold enough to wake us up. I added a Arrowhead Equipment Bear Burrito Oven to the wife’s hammock and even though this was the first time I had used it, it took less than a couple of minutes to hook it up in the dark.. I tried to add a foam pad to her hammock but she would not get out of the hammock so I gave her my heavy coat and she said she was warm the rest of the night. I placed a 2” inflatable pad in my hammock and I was warm the rest of the night. We did not use tarps as the weather reports called for clear skies and no rain. I watched the stars until I fell asleep. The only reason we got up was to answer natures call.
Before we got in our hammocks for the night, a young couple pulled into the site next to us and kept us entertained until we went to sleep. They spent the first hour trying to set up their tent. I asked if I could help them but they said no they had it under control so the wife and I kicked back and had fun watching how not to set up a tent in the dark. Then they started a fire which consisted of dousing firewood with large amounts of lighter fluid on an open flame and creating a 15+ foot ball of fire, repeat often. I stood by waiting for the guy to set himself on fire. Told wife he was a potential candidate for a Darwin Award.
We broke camp and started north again enjoying the fall colors and views.
The second night we camped the Linville Falls campgrounds (close to where the Gorge Rats play), elevation about 3,200 feet. Cost was $16.00 for the night but no hot showers. Each site has a large bear proof box for storing food in. We only found a few sites suitable for hammock hanging. The best one, site 70 ( and the one we stayed at ) is just across from the Rangers check in shack. I counted a possible 8+ hanging locations on this one site. This time I added a Wally World blue foam pad ( the one with the waffle pattern) to the wife's hammocks along with her Bear Burrito Oven and she said she was warm all night. I used the air pad again but no fleece jacket and was warm all night. Temps that night dropped into the high 40's. My wife told me in the morning that is was damp under her sleeping bag. There was some condensation on her bag, her hammock and the blue pad. Not sure what caused it. Once again no tarps as we had clear skies all night and no rain in the forecast.
We broke camp and started north again enjoying the fall colors and views.
On the 3rd night we got off the parkway and camped at Stone Mountain State Park NC (they have hot showers). Elevation unknown. We found several sites suitable for hammocks. We had stopped by the visitor center and were told to pick a site and come back to pay. We picked a site and went back to pay only to be told that the site was already reserved. I asked the clerk to mark the already reserved sites on a campsite map this time as the campgrounds and the visitor center are not close to each other. Found a site and paid $20 for the night. The wife slept in a tent as her shoulder was hurting and she thought the hammock might have aggravated a shoulder problem (it didn't as it still hurt after sleeping in the tent). I set up my gear guide tarp as a chance of rain was predicted. We did get a few drops of rain and some winds but the tarp was dry in the AM. Temps only got down in the 50's.
We broke camp and started north again enjoying the fall colors and views. We finished the Blue Ridge Parkway and continued onto the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park.
We stopped at Loft Mountain campgrounds. Very cold, do not know exact temp as my temp gauge broke. Cost $15. Elevation 3,373 ft. We could not find any open sites for hanging hammocks so we set up the tent. We stopped at the campground store to check it out and asked for a weather report and were told a major rain storm was due to hit around 11pm. While they have a good selection of camping supplies, be prepared to pay 2-3 times what you would outside the park. They do have laundry facilities ( decent prices ) and hot showers ($1.00 for 5 minutes). Saw lots of deer around the campground and walked by one 3 feet away. The deer looked at us and went back to feeding as we took pictures. The wife took the air pad and left me with 2 Wally World blue foam pads to sleep on. Wished there had been a place to hang a hammock as I was sore in the AM.
About 5AM the rain hit and hit big time. Also had lightning strikes in the area. We were camped next to several apple trees and the wind blew them off the tree and our tent was assaulted by apples (the tent survived with no damage) The lightning scared the wife and before I knew it she had her sleeping bag and stuff bagged up and was ready to leave. I talked her into waiting until it got light to leave. Once it got light the rain let up some and we broke down camp and left. As soon as we got packed up, it started raining hard again and continued to rain off and on for the rest of the morning.
We left the park and drove up to where the MAHHA is/was to be held and checked out the area. After the wife saw where we would be camping in relation to how far she would have to walk to the restrooms she decided she was not going to have anything to do with this hang so we came home. She did tell me that if I wanted to attend the next MAHHA, I could drop her off at sister in laws and pick her up on the way back.
All in all, a good trip. Got to test out the hammocks and gear in temps to the low 40's and stayed comfortable. The wife agreed that sleeping in a hammock is much better than sleeping in a tent. Now I can plan on hanging in 30 degree weather and see how well my gear works at the next level and what I will need to tweak.
Images Left to right
Self inflating air mattress, WallyWord Blue pad, Linville Falls, Mt Pisgah, Stone Mt
Mt Pisgah, Stone Mt, Skyline Drive, BlueRidge Parkway