Well, I am sorry to say that I had ill-fated hammock trip. I count it as a success because I got to test a lot of the gear that I made and because I learned a whole lot, but my friend and I had decided to cut our intended 3 days down to just a night. Here's the story.
I told myself at the end of my last really bad cold butt experience (9 degrees, nothing but a 15 degree sleeping bag with 25 mph winds ) that I was going to be making the same mistakes again. So, I asked my parents for an underquilt for Christmas. Unfortunately, as it would turn out later (specifically one day before my trip) my mother never actually pressed the submit button on the order. So, here I am, forced to improvise something. I made an extended pad the night before I left with some pieces cut from a second pad and duct taped to the sides of the first. I dubbed my unholy creation "Frankenpad". You can make out the corner of the beast in one of the attached pictures. The main part of Frankenpad is a very thin pad, roughly an eighth of an inch, a quarter tops by my rough estimation. Oh well, weather.com is calling for lows only in the low 20's.
The tarp I used is one that I made and just barely got done in time. It has the same dimensions as the Warbonnet edge, but with much some differences (the main one being quality of production, I'm sure ). The hammock I used is a single layer 1.1 ounce that I made and have come to really love. It is really comfortable and super light.
My friend was equipped with a DIY 1.1 oz hammock as well, an ENO profly tarp, and a winter incubator from Stormcrow.
Well, we set off into Shenandoah Park with no real aim of where we were going and we picked a trail off a parking area since we were gettin in pretty late and we were running out of sunlight. We hiked in a bit and decided to make camp. We got everything set up pretty quickly and mostly without a hitch and made some dinner. Being the idiots that we are, one part of our dinner was rice that we thought we could just pour boling water onto and let it soak for a bit. It came out crunchy and chalky . Live and learn, I guess.
Well, it's getting pretty cold by this point, so we get into our hammocks with our tarps only half pitched, but with the stakes in the ground so we can talk to each other better. We talked for a while and drank some of the maker's we brought. When the time for sleep comes around, we pitched the tarps all the way, even though weather.com only says 30% chance of rain. My setup is less than ideal with the mummy bag and pad in a single layer hammock and it's a pain to keep everything in its place, but it eventually settles in. I nod off to sleep thinking that I'm glad it's not supposed to get below 22 tonight, because I can't get my toes warm for the life of me.
I woke up to snow hitting me in the face. It was a really light snow that was able to blow up into my hammock because my tarp had loosened up while I was asleep. I make a mental note to make tarp tensioners and go out to tighten the tie-outs, cursing weather.com and their 30% prediction of snow under my breath. Once the tarp is tightened, I didn't have any more problems with snow getting in. I listen to the wolf howls and manage to catch a bit more sleep.
It has gotten noticeably colder when I wake up again. I checked my thermometer to find that the temperature dropped to 7 degrees! A far cry from the 22 I was expecting and too cold for Frankenpad. I slept a bit, but for the most part spent the rest of the night trying to stay warm and dealing with the condensation issues the tarp was giving me. I was happy to see the sun rise when it came.
As it turns out, my buddy didn't fair so well either. Whether there just isn't good enough coverage on the ProFly, or whether he didn't pitch it well, he got a good amount of snow in the hammock. We decided to call it a trip and hiked out that day.
Well, there were many lessons learned that trip
1. Don't trust Weather.com
2. You can't make rice by just pouring water on it.
3. Tarp tensioners are definitely worth having.
4. I can use a pad and get sleep down to the single digits, but I'd rather not.
Sorry for the novel, it's late and I got carried away. Here are some pictures of the experience.