I FINALLLY got to take my hammock on a short and sweet backpacking trip.
About 30 years ago I quit backpacking for school and then a job. A year and a half ago I went on a 3 day Yosemite trip with borrowed everything (including the pack and the sleeping pad from Hades). I spent the time after Yosemite learning about hammocks and modern gear, practicing with car camping trips, getting my gear together, and taking lots of day hikes.
So it was really great to get out again yesterday.
This was an easy beginner trip through a local MeetUp organization: 3 1/2 miles (remember this number) to the campsite, some optional short hikes on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, and then retrace our steps back to the trailhead.
Saturday morning all 11 of us gathered at the Indian Springs trailhead off of Eagle Lakes Road (Interstate 80 near the Donner Summit). The first 2 1/2 miles or so were shared with 4 wheel drive vehicles - trucks and ATVs. The rest of the trip in was into the non-motorized area.
The weather was beautiful and sunny with a steady cool breeze on Sunday. High temp on Saturday was 82, low early Sunday morning was 38. Elevation between 5400 and 5850 feet. From the trailhead to the campsite is generally down: 1146 feet total descent and 852 total ascent. So coming out on Sunday I spent a lot of time in my hill climbing gear, going slower and slower but still moving. One other guy there had the same slow and steady hill climbing style, so we kept each other company.
The only snow we saw was in the distance on the top of Signal Peak but we had some sloppy hiking where the trail, the 4 wheelers, and creek run off coincided, but for the main hike just easy rock crossings of a few small streams. There were a couple of spots in the 4WD area which were ascents on loose rock (not gravel) in a sort of a gully, so there was no breeze, difficult footing, and hot sun. Bleah.
The campsite we were aiming for already occupied, so we went a little farther down Fordyce Creek (the trail generally follows the creek) to a second site. It was nice, but our leader (who knows this area really well) said there was an even nicer one just a little ways away. So some of us dropped our packs and followed her, the more fit folks kept theirs on, and a couple of people stayed with the pack pile. She was right, the third site was the best. So we tromped back to the pile, loaded up and hiked back to the site. By the time we had done all that, and inspected the area for suitable spots, our total mileage was 6.6 miles. 3.5 miles my eye! If we'd gone straight to the third site, it would have been 4.8 miles.
I gloated a little when the rest of the folks figured out I did not have to clear a bazillion pinecones and twigs from my spot. I did manage to entice one camper to try the hammock for a few minutes. And I threw hammockforums.net around with great abandon.
I used a very long home made double layer hammock (10.5 feet) out of bright kelly green 1.7 nylon from Ed Speer. I had my Marmot Arroyo bag on top and a thin Oware pad below. I also had a homemade synthetic underquilt. And my MacCat deluxe. I brought along a bugnet, but I didn't really need it. Mosquito season is just beginning in that area so the bugs were only out at dawn and dusk. I tried out headchange4you's single line suspension and liked it very much.
The hammock is really too long for both the tarp and the bugnet, so I'm going to shorten it by 1/2 foot to start and then see how I like it. There is a trade off between sag and fitting in the bugnet. I'd rather have a little more sag.
I'd brought long tree straps since I was thinking I might have to use a ponderosa pine at one end, but I found two skinny trees and wrapped the straps around multiple times.
After we'd set up most of us loafed around camp, some folks went on a short hike to some falls further up Fordyce Creek, and two brave people went for a dip in the creek. I think they were in the water about 10 seconds. Darn cold! Made for a really refreshing drink when filtered.
After lunch on Sunday there was a second excursion to the falls. I'm glad I only had a waist pack for that hike since crossing Granite Creek involved some skinny logs over really fast rock-infested water. I put my pride away and scooted across on my rear. I'd already busted the seam on the seat of my hiking pants, so what the heck!
After lunch on Sunday we hiked back to the trail head.
My Osprey Ariel pack carried well but I decided on the big homeward ascent that I can do without more stuff (30 pounds including food and water at trip start).
To see where we camped, find Crystal Lake CA in google maps, and follow Carlyle road generally north (this is actually a 4WD track). This ends at some lakes and if you look northwest of the lakes, you will see Fordyce Creek. Find where Granite Creek meets Fordyce and that's where we camped, just to the east of Granite Creek.