I headed up to Mackís Canyon in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area on December 30th to spend some time out in the cold and to test out my Christmas gifts. Mackís Canyon is off of Lee Canyon Road (SR 156), 14 miles off of 95N, about an hour from the Las Vegas strip. Itís basically a gravel road with a lot of hills and cliffs that goes back about four miles into the canyon.
Iíve hiked, camped and mountain biked the area quite a bit but this was my first time hanging up there. The hike to starts at about 7600 feet and the elevation gain and loss is only a couple hundred feet for the whole hike.
It was 60 degrees and skies were clear when I started. Snowfall has been very light up there this year and the deepest parts were about a foot deep and all hard-packed. Fortunately the bare spots were dry so there wasnít any slush or mud to deal with. That all made for an awesome hike with some spectacular views from the high points along my route.
I had planned on setting up camp about three miles in at a spot that I had camped at before (on the ground) but when I got there I found relatively fresh mountain lion tracks all over the area. I doubt I would have had any issues with said predator, I donít think I would taste very good but I was concerned with driving off any potential chow for Mr. Mountain Lion and chose to move to a different spot.
I finally ended up setting up camp in another familiar spot at about 8000 feet. Skies were still clear so I set up my Blackbird first. Pretty standard set up with tree straps, carabiners, marlin spike with toggles, and whoopee slings. Iím really happy with that setup and plan on sticking with it. I also had a set of Katís AWESOME snakeskins that she made for my Blackbird and they made setup a little quicker. I set up north/south so I would be able to see the sunrise without having to get out of the hammock. I finished my tarp setup with my Jarbidge River UQ, CCF (short) pad and sleeping bag. Temps were forecasted to dip into the high 20ís so I had to go with a sleeping bag (20 degree) instead of my JRB Shenandoah
I set up my Mamajamba with a continuous ridgeline (Whoopieslingsí single line tarp ridgeline)Öalso with snakeskins from Kat. Iím really happy with the ease of setup with that system too. The combo of the knotbone, figure 9, and prusiks was super fast to set up. I set up in a porch configuration with the open end to my left (east) which worked out great since the wind was coming directly from the west and I would still have an unobstructed view to the east when the sun came up.
As soon as the sun set the temps dropped fast. After chow, clean up, and some nighttime exploring I was in the hammock around 8 PM. That when I made my decision to purchase another top quilt thatís rated lower than my Shenandoah. I wish I had a video of me fighting with that bag and trying to get comfortable. Iím sure I put on a good show for whatever wildlife was around. I think I made up some new cuss words too. Iíve been in the military for almost 22 years and I impressed even myself with my creative manipulation of the English language while trying to get in that #%$^#@* bag.
Once my performance ended and I got situated I was out though. The UQ and pad worked flawlessly and I didnít have any cold spots at all. I had thin base layer/wicking top and bottoms , stretch fleece (100ish weight) tops and bottoms over the base layer and wool socks and stayed very warm in the bag.
I got up about 1 AM to visit a tree and grab some water and a bar. It was down to 33 degrees. Moonset was at 11:30 PM so the sky was dark and the stars were REALLY bright. The view was awesome! I took that opportunity to flip the porch side of my tarp back over the other side and open up and flip the bugnet over my Blackbird. Not only did that give me a great view of the sky but I was also curious to see if there would be any noticeable difference in temperature with the bug net out of the way. I know it feels a little warmer in my ground setup when I have a bug net since the net stops some of the circulating air/breeze. I didnít notice much difference though. One thing I didnít take into consideration was that a lot of tension was taken off of my tarp when I flipped it over. No issues though, besides a loose, floppy tarp. There was no wind so I didnít even notice it until the morning. Next time I to that Iíll be sure to move the prusiks out on the lint to tighten everything up.
Sunrise was great! The skies were still clear and I had a straight shot right from the hammock. Then it was just breakfast, clean up, tear down (once again, Katís snakeskins ROCK), and a hike back to my car.
Great trip overall. Learned a couple things and I canít wait to get back out againÖ.with a new top quilt.
1 (527): Straps, Slings, and Lines.
2 (528): Final setup.
3 (540): Another view of my final setup.
4 (553): Sunrise view from my hammock.
5 (561): Morning shot...notice the sag in the tarp as mentioned above. Next time I'll tighten the prusiks.
6 (566): Far view. I really like how the colors blend in with the environment.