I've been backpacking for more than 10 years but really haven't done that many trips considering the time span and still consider myself a bit of a newb, well maybe an advanced newb. None of my friends have to this point shown the least interest in going backpacking and all my trips have been solo. And I love being out there by myself. I'm kind of a recluse to begin with.
So my friend from work said he wanted to go backpacking. We end up travelling together for work sometimes and he loves to go on long walks (he drug me 16 miles in hawaii the last time lol) so I knew that from the physical standpoint he would be fine, but I really felt nervous about feeling responsible for him having a good time and being comfortable. I was afraid he'd lay awake all night miserable. He had never been backpacking before. He had never spent a night outside other than when he was a boyscout long ago. Oh and survival school in the air force, but he said they didn't have to actually pack things in then even.
We found a few days we both had off work in common and planned a real short "test the waters" trip to a spot I had been before, Shealor Lake near Carson pass. Its only a few miles in and has a couple of nice little lakes. I got all my gear sorted out to get him set up. He bought a backpack and I was afraid he'd show up with a behemoth (like the 7 lb pack I bought when I started out) but he got one of a reasonable size. I was able to put together two hammock setups, although we only had one tarp, but it wasn't going to rain. I told him if it did I'd just have to sleep on the ground under him . The low temperature was only going to get down to 50.
I had my Traveller, Pheonix underquilt, and HUG bugnet. I used my High Sierra Sniveller for a topquilt even though it is rated to like 5 degrees or something ridiculous. I would usually use my Nest as a topquilt but it was the only other item I had that could be used on the second hammock as a underquilt.
We set him up with my old Hennessey Exped, the Nest underquilt, and my only other bag which is a Big Agnes Horse Thief which has spent the last 10 years or so as a comforter on my couch . Well, I was going to let him try both hammocks but figured that the Hennessey would be better since the full length underquilt and built in bugnet makes it a little less fiddly. Course if he'd preferred the traveller I could have put the Nest on it, not sure how the Pheonix would work on the Hennessey though, never thought to try it. Probably wouldn't have mattered since much since the temps were not cool enough to require perfect quilt position anyway. But I digress!
So anyway we sorted out the packing of the packs and ended up about 23-24 lbs apeice. Oh I also took a groundcloth and my full length POE Insul-Mat so that he could try laying on the ground and see if he preferred that. Lets just say it just laid on the ground the whole time unused after he lay on it for about 15 seconds.
So we hiked in up and over this big hill to get to the lakes and it was beautiful. There was someone camped at the bigger of the lakes so we continued on to the second which is smaller but actually was better because it was close to a small bluff that overlooks a valley where we sat and watched the sun go down and the stars come up. There was no moon and the milky way was astounding. We had cooked our dinner after setting up camp and it was just really fun seeing his reactions to things I've come to take for granted like the little cat food stove etc. We had set up our camp and after stargazing for a few hours made our way back to camp. We hadn't really spent the time we should have before it got dark having him try out the hammocks. He had just entered the Hennessey, and said "this is good" before we had set off to our first class sunset seats on the bluff.
I got him arranged with the underquilt and all and went and got in my Traveller. Very worried he wouldn't be able to sleep. I swear..in like 2 minutes max, I heard snoring. I honestly couldn't believe it. I have never fallen asleep that fast in my life I don't think. I slept lightly, kind of "on alert" in case he woke up and had any issues with comfort that I might be able to address, but every time I woke up I heard the soft snoring that I was grateful for, as it let me know he wasn't laying there awake and miserable.
In the morning we wandered around for awhile, ate breakfast, got all packed up and left. My friend said his shoulder had been squeezed but other than that he was comfortable although he had woken up alot but then quickly back to sleep. I then realized we should have had him try my hammock more seriously, and I should have realized by looking at him in the Hennessey that he was too tall for it. He's 6'2 and after I got home I looked up the specs on the Hennessey and it recommends 6'0 tall max for it, whearas the Traveller is good up to 6'8. But his only other complaint was that it was a little too warm and oh the other thing was " we should have stayed for another day"! Since he wants now to go on a trip where we stay two nights instead of one, this is obviously a success! I have to go to the big city Friday to go to the dentist and he lives near there and we're going to meet at REI to goggle over gear .
This is a new experience for me just as much for him, as I really had a lot of fun having another person with me. There was a whole lot of laughing going on and it really was nice having someone else see the beautiful things I see but usually only share with friends via pictures. He was a good hiking companion and didn't even mind that the water was orange tinted. And GEAR TALK! Having someone to talk about gear with in real life without them rolling their eyes or giving me a blank stare looking bored to tears . He somehow found Shug videos already too!
So here are a few pics: