OK - I returned home late yesterday after spending Friday night with the group at Dingman's. Before the rest get back and report in, I'll tell my lies... uhh, make that "give a report of the first half of the hang."
Friday afternoon JD arrived early and renewed his acquaintance with the campground owners. The situation boiled down to:
1) There is no winter porta-potty as it says on the website so we will leave a trailer unlocked with lights, a toilet and heat on. Use it as you wish.
2) No one else is here camping so spread out as you like.
3) We'll leave the firewood enclosure unlocked. Use the wheelbarrow to get as much as you need.
4) As for payment, just pass the hat and give what you feel is appropriate.
5) Hammocks? No problem at all.
What more could you ask for.
I drove up Highway 15 in very heavy flurries. The rivers, lakes and streams had a good bit of ice and snow in them but weren't covered entirely. To cross the Delaware River into Pennsylvania, you go over a long, narrow iron and wood bridge to be greeted by a friendly toll-taker standing between the opposing lanes at the far end. Three minutes later I was in the campground being hailed by JD with. "Hey, over here!" It seems they were signaling anyone entering the campground, much to the amusement of a father and son checking out the campground at one point.
After signing in on the Hammock Forums poster board (good idea - who brought that anyway?) and saying hellos, I chose a spot and set up as the light was fading. My ploy worked perfectly as jloden had successfully started a fire by the time I finished putzing around. Not a small task given the cut wood was frozen and the downfall was, too.
Attendees for the night were MerryMary, JD, jloden, Knotty, Dylan (good to meet ya) and me, JayS.
Soon a stove or two popped out of hiding. To be quickly joined by many more - I think the final ratio was about 3 stoves per person, thanks in no small part to Knotty. There were propane camp stoves, canister stoves, alky stoves and woodburners. The next day when someone mentioned that we could have just cooked over the fire, I feared for their life!
It got dark early so we were surprised when it was only 7:15 and everyone was fed and watching JD manage the campfire without lifting a finger. - "We need more wood!" The talk turned to about every camping/hanging topic relevant to our situation and to many that weren't of any concern at all. A great time and it wasn't too cold, staying in the upper 20s. It was nice around the fire.
Kotty tried to organize an expedition to the river unsuccessfully until there were only three of us awake around midnight. We finally relented at which time Knotty pulled out his iPad, complete with downloaded topo maps to lead us down the campground road to the river. jloden remarked that he thought GPS was spotty here and asked how we would know we were at the river. I answered that we would follow Knotty and wait for the splash followed by the iPad light fading out underwater. The river was lovely at night with small islands of white ice and snow. Knotty got to indulge another hobby as he had the only flashlight that would reach the far side of the river. The light that is; we didn't actually try to throw flashlights across the river. We did, however, see a couple of lights up the river and wondered out loud if it might be kayak karl finally arriving (it wasn't). On the way back to camp, Knotty discovered three different scats and, after lengthy discourse at each sighting, identified none.
The temperature at 12:40 AM was 28*F. We all turned in and slept in varying degrees of comfort. I was so snug after a little fiddling that I slept 9 hours! A check of our thermometers Saturday morning revealed the temperature dropped substantially in the early hours, hitting 18* around 5 o'clock. I was closest to the river although not very close but I was on the edge of a gully with a frozen seep that we noticed was considerably cooler than the surrounding area. Everyone commented on the drop in temperature as we walked to the river. Overnight, my thermometer was at my car which was a site back towards the campfire, near Knotty's hang. That's where we recorded a low of 18*. I reckon over by the Arctic air gully I probably saw a good 20* difference, putting me squarely below zero. By that same logic, JD, MerryMary and jloden must have never gotten below freezing since they were within 100 feet of the campfire. MerryMary was warm all night so that supports my hypothesis. jloden was chilly at times but he is young and had foolishly parked his truck between himself and the fire, which was only about 80 feet away! Dylan slept closer to me and left Saturday, indicating he must have gotten cold from the gully. He must have tipped off Pro Vagabond (who arrived Saturday) because Vagabond set up as far away from the gully as possible. Yep, I think I must have been below zero degrees F most of the night!?!
As mentioned, Pro Vagabond arrived Saturday morning and Dylan and I took our leave. Less than a mile into New Jersey (about a mile an a half from camp), I had to slow down to let the cutest black bear cross the road.
+ JD shared his Trader Joe's sesame crepes that were wonderful and a great hiking food as they are light, cost a dollar and have 1000 calories.
+ jloden's wife made chili for the group (thanks, mar dot). jloden left it in the freezer at home (boo, jloden). JayS offered to go by on his way home Saturday and pretend he was on the way to the hang and get the chili. jloden nixed the idea when he realilzed JayS would get ALL the chili (drats).
+ JD got a kick out of waiting until both Jays were together, then asking, "Jay, can you hand me that?" and watching them both reach for the same thing.
+ Several folks had trouble with a gap between the UQ and the "tunnel" created by the ridge in the center of gathered end hammocks. I think I may have a solution - I'll try it and put up a thread if it works.
Well that's my story and I'm stickin' to it!