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  1. #1
    HappyCamper's Avatar
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    Staying warm at the Sods in Nov.

    Hey y’all. I had to miss this year’s Sept. Dolly Sods hang due to a family circumstance but I was lucky enough to go car camping there this weekend with friends. If anyone reads any of my posts, a lot of them are about how cold I sleep. If a bag says it’s good to 20 degrees, for me that means 30 or 35. If anyone knows Dolly Sods, WV, you know it can snow there any time of year! The forecast was sunny and clear both Sat. and Sun. and my two camping friends were predicting a low in the 20’s for the night. They use tents and thought I was crazy for hammocking! (You all know the look.)

    The temps dropped fast when the sun went down. We stayed at Red Creek campground and the sky was so clear that you didn’t need a flashlight with the half moon glowing. With no cloud cover I started thinking about that low temp again!

    First thing I’d like to do is give a shout out to my Caldera Cone setup. I was the first to have water boiling for dinner. Ann was using a liquid fuel stove and before she had hers connected, wind screened, and lit -- my water was steaming. She was surprised the alcohol stove worked so well in the cold temps. I love my Caldera Cone. I used the original stove that came with the setup. The priming pan certainly helped getting it lit quickly.

    I haven’t been cold camping for quite a while and it wasn’t until I got all bundled up that night that I realized what a JRB commercial I am for cold weather hammock camping. Used their big tarp, with one end tied closed to keep out the wind. I’ve been using this tarp for years and it hasn’t let me down yet. Had the Mt. Washington 4 for my UQ, a bit of Thinlight pad for protection from CBS, a No Sniv with extra down for the top quilt. Used JRB down sleeves as extra protection on my feet. Learned that one from Shug. And I had the JRB down hood for sleeping. Even in 20 something degrees I had to vent the hood to keep from sweating. Now this my friends is a serious cold weather hat!

    Even though I was car camping I wanted to see how light I could go. So I left my ski jacket at home. That evening when others were pulling out their heavy winter jackets, I put on my No Sniv quilt and sleeves. Did my friends make fun of me? Sure did! Did other campers stare? Sure did. Did I care? -- A bit! Did my backpacker friend want to try it on? Sure did! Was I warm out and about in camp! I sure was. Was I warm that night in the hammock. Yes, I was!

    At about 8:30 pm I threw my hot water bottle into my hammock to warm things up.

    Went to bed at 9:30. Even with the hot water bottle it took some time to warm up my quilts. But after that I slept toasty warm. At 1:30 the coyotes started howling off in the distance. They didn't howl for very long. Just enough to wake all the dogs in camp and get them going for a good while.

    Sometime at about 4 PM I started getting too hot and started taking off hat and gloves and venting quilts.
    The next morning Molly-dog’s water pail was iced up. I thought I could break the ice with a big pointy stick, but no dice. The water was frozen solid. But the sun was out and warmed up our campsite quickly. Once again the Caldera Cone setup worked like a charm and I had hot chocolate in no time.

    Of course the requisite cold morning question came up: "How'd you sleep?" We all agreed that it took some time for our bags/quilts to warm up. We all laughed because each of us admitted to wondering if we were going to be cold all night! But we all warmed up and slept well. Both tenters had large, thick foam mattresses that you could not take backpacking. I was proud that my gear was light enough to backpack.

    We then took our hot drinks and sit pads across the road to the bird banding area and watched the sun rise higher in the sky enjoying the view of the multiple ridge lines. The birds were definitely out and about. I got buzzed a few times as they flew up the cliffs and right over head. Close enough to make me duck!

    Right then we remembered to set our watches back and grinned that we got the added bonus of an extra hour at the Sods with friends. Doesn’t get much better than that!

    HC
    Last edited by HappyCamper; 11-08-2011 at 05:15.
    Exercise, eat right, die anyway -- Country Roads bumper sticker
    Fall seven times, standup eight. -- Japanese Proverb

  2. #2
    DivaB's Avatar
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    Glad you had a good time!! Sounds like a lot of fun

  3. #3
    Senior Member BearChaser's Avatar
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    Hey HappyCamper, I was on the ridge just to the west of you across Canaan Valley. I stayed over on Canaan Loop road then hit the Pointy Knob trail for a distance Saturday. By the way, according to my thermometer, temps dropped to 25 at my location. I would say up on your side of the mountain it was a little cooler though. I had the same problem, had to vent the winter quilts to cool down.

    It was beautiful weather though wasn't it.

  4. #4
    Wonderful report HC, sounds like it was a great time out! Truly jealous I am, truly!
    "yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift---thats why its called a present" - Master Oogway
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  5. #5
    Senior Member DougTheElder's Avatar
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    Hey, Old Friend, Glad to see you're out and about!
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Gaberloonzie's Avatar
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    Sounds like an incredible weekend! I'm still tweaking my winter gear and hope my next weekend will be as great!

  7. #7
    Senior Member Catavarie's Avatar
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    Sounds like a great get away. Thank you for sharing it with us.
    *Heaven best have trees, because I plan to lounge for eternity.

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  8. #8
    HappyCamper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BearChaser View Post
    Hey HappyCamper, I was on the ridge just to the west of you across Canaan Valley. I stayed over on Canaan Loop road then hit the Pointy Knob trail for a distance Saturday. By the way, according to my thermometer, temps dropped to 25 at my location. I would say up on your side of the mountain it was a little cooler though. I had the same problem, had to vent the winter quilts to cool down.

    It was beautiful weather though wasn't it.
    Absolutely! I should have called you and WV! I was invited at last minute by Ann and didn't think about it. Too excited I guess. I will next time!

    The 3 of us kept commenting about how clear and wonderful it was! The rust colored oak leaves were still hanging on and we were noticing different kinds of red berries still in the trees and bushes. We found tea berries to chew on over at the bird banding area.

    I'm told the red spruce load up on pine cones every 4 or 5 years and dump them for reseeding and we were noticing those as well. I'll post some pics.

    Saturday we hiked the Wildlife trail to Rohrbaugh out to the view. First time for me on that trail and the view was great. You can see Red Creek down in the valley. True to its name we had grouse shooting off the ground on this trail. Scared the bajesus out of me.

    Not sure if it was this way for you, but the trails were boggy and wet from the earlier snow dump that melted. Still snow in lots of shady spots but mostly gone. You did have to be careful with some ice on the trails in shady spots.

    We found the fire tower that's close to 75. The top with the full circle view of the Sods is dilapidated so you couldn't get that high. But we went up on the first platform and got another good view there. Too bad you can't go to the top. That would be something.

    Bear Chaser! Lots of hunters out with their pickups with those dog boxes in back where only the dogs' heads stick out. Those still give me the giggles. With all the bear dogs I figured I wouldn't have to worry about bears in our campsite!

    Thanks for confirming the temps. We were guessing mid 20's so I'll go with a bit lower . . . Just to brag.

    Sunday on our way out we spent about 2 hours climbing around on the rocks over at Bear Rocks. Another clear day and I almost got tired of saying "Wow!" Almost!
    Last edited by HappyCamper; 11-08-2011 at 16:08.
    Exercise, eat right, die anyway -- Country Roads bumper sticker
    Fall seven times, standup eight. -- Japanese Proverb

  9. #9
    Senior Member jerzybears's Avatar
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    We wanna gooooooo toooooooo!!!!!! Gonna have to see how many hours West (by God) Virginia is from NJ!
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  10. #10

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    The more I read these trip reports the happier I am in the warm north! ;-)
    Nice trip, wish I was there!

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