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  1. #1
    BillyBob58's Avatar
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    trip report Olympics and North Cascades

    I got back a few days ago from my trip to the Pacific North West. This trip was quite different than most I have made, and very interesting. I have posted a few pictures over in the gallery, although I can't find half of them. I didn't take my camera, other people were taking the pictures. So I don't have as many of the hammock related aspects of the trip as I would like. Our group consisted of two hammock hangers and one pair of ground dwellers.

    After various delays en route, we finally completed what turned out to be a much longer drive than anticipated from Seattle to the western side of Olympic national Park, parking at the Hoh River visitor center outside of Forks Washington. The sun was already setting is we hit the trail. Finally we found ourselves hiking in pitch black night, at the foot of 300 foot tall trees that were anywhere from five to 10+ feet in diameter. It was a truly overwhelmingly dense and gigantic forest, with the trail going along side of a raging river which drained the glaciers that sat about 3000 feet above us. As we hiked along, I started to become discouraged about the aspects of finding a tree small enough to wrap some webbing around and hang my hammock. It wasn't looking good, and I figured I was going to spend the night on the ground, and was thankful I brought my pads. And there was an incredible amount of deadfall and fallen gigantic trees everywhere you looked.

    We were hiking along by headlights, and we finally figured out that we had overshot our planned first night's camp. I'm glad we found a useable spot by the river. Because, as hard as it was going to be for me (I thought) to find a hanging spot, I don't know where anybody would have pitched a tent in that jungle. Giant roots covered the ground everywhere, as well as all other forms of dense vegetation. So this first camp, as were several others, was basically in a dry section of river bed. The Park service actually encourages camping on these gravel bars. At this spot we had no trouble finding a flat place for the tent out from the jungle, the "Ho Chi Minh Trail" as we started calling it ( Hoh river trail, actual name). But there was a lot of trouble finding trees suitable for hanging. But on the way in from the main trail towards the gravel bar, we had spotted a few likely ones, and after dinner Tom and I left the ground dwellers and headed back off that way. My friend Tom had a shorter version of the Hennessy hammock expedition, and we were quickly able to find a couple of trees suitable for him. It was a little more difficult for me, because the trees that we had found were just a little too close together for my ultralight Explorer. But after a bit of fiddling I got it all done. This is all done, again, at night by headlights. But when I got up the next morning, I did notice quite a number of suitable trees that separated a small dry Creek, with trees of the right size and right distance apart on each side of the creek! But I hadn't been able to see these in the dark.

    It didn't seem like it was going to be very cold, so after I loosed the tarp and hammock from the snake skins, I placed the super shelter under pad inside and attached it. I left the space blanket and kidney/torso pads inside the pack. I crawled in the hammock, somewhere around nine or 10:00 p.m., and was soon passed out. For the whole trip, I think the lows were in the 40s to maybe low 50s, highs 60-70. For some reason I failed to leave my watch out and get an actual measurement, but it was definitely not as cold as the trips I normally take in the Rockies. Although, it was always very humid and/or foggy or raining. I slept warm and toasty and comfortable all night, and I was very glad I was not in a shelter with any of my loudly snoring mates. It was much better to hear the snoring going on at a distance. Actually, when I look back on that night, I don't remember ever sleeping that good the first night out on a backwoods trip. Even if I'm very comfortable, the first night out away from my normal place of sleeping, is usually not a good nights sleep. I usually wake up a lot. But if I'm recalling correctly, I didn't even get up once to take a leak. I don't remember moving until I heard my son making noise getting the food bags down out of the trees. That's amazing, and completely different from my first ever night in a hammock last year in Wyoming at 10000 ft. Where nearly freezing to death caused me to have to abandon the hammock and get on my sleeping pads on the ground. But, I had no idea what I was doing at that time. Thank goodness things have improved a bit!

    Then I got to experience a bit of enjoyment from the skills I have gained with the hammock, not to mention the great help in taking down and setting up camp which is afforded by snake skins and webbing/buckles/cleats(one on each end). On last year's trip, I struggled with everything related to the hammock, and part of that was because of an unusually severe case of altitude sickness. So I was always very slow in getting my camp set up and breaking it down when we were ready to go. Well on this first morning in camp, I nearly had to dump my other hammocking friend out on the ground to wake him up. It was unbelievable how soundly he was sleeping while the rest of us had been up for an hour and a half. I had already finished breakfast, and had to go over there close to his hammock and yell his name several times before he finally responded! So when I went back to where the tenters were finishing their breakfast, and told them that Tom was just getting up, one of the young smart asses, remembering my struggles last year, and thinking that hammocking was time consuming silliness, said "yeah, and Tom will still be ready to go before Bill is". Well that kind of worked out better this year! I walked back over to my hammock, pulled the under pad out and stuffed it in its sack, slid my hammock into the snakeskin's and took it down, slid my tarp into their snake skins and took it down, stuffed the sleeping bag back in the pack and strapped the snake skins on top of the pack, and I was ready to go in a matter of minutes. I was packed and ready to go two hours before Tom (sleeping beauty) finally got ready to go and a good hour ( or more) before anybody else was packed up and ready to go! Need this to say, I had to remind them of this later on. Every time we got to camp or broke camp, I was always the first to complete the task, even though the tenters had two people to work on setting up and breaking down and packing their tent. Sweet!

    I'll give some more details in a later post. Suffice it to say, it was a completely satisfactory hammocking experience!

    I can't figure the whole gallery thing out. I'm doing something wrong and pictures are missing. Anyway, maybe you can see a few pictures at these links. If you will notice, in the thumbnail pic you can see extra pads and such under my tarp. The tarps became a gathering place for every one to hang out during the long periods of rain!

    http://www.hammockforums.net/gallery...mages.php?c=11

    http://www.hammockforums.net/gallery...s&cutoffdate=1
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    Last edited by BillyBob58; 09-16-2007 at 17:17.

  2. #2
    Senior Member FanaticFringer's Avatar
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    Really sweet pics. Sounds like yall had a blast. I'd love to go out west and hang some......maybe someday.
    "Every day above ground is a good day"

  3. #3
    BillyBob58's Avatar
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    Part two Olympic/cascade report

    The second day of the trip, after I got a good long rest waiting for everybody else to get ready to go, we hiked about 7 miles to our next camp. All of this was at fairly low elevation averaging about 1000 feet. We set up camp had at spot called Olympic guard station. This was 9.1 miles in from the trailhead the night before. I found a couple of trees that were further apart than I had ever successfully used before. But they weren't the gigantic trees that were typical, they were about 1 foot in diameter or so. Set up a was swift, and easy. I would use the figure 9 thingies to attach the tarp (in skins) between the trees and make quick adjustments as necessary so that the tarp would be centered. For the hammock, I stuck with the original Hennessy rope on one end, using the nylon cleat that we have spoken of before. I simply put the Hennessy tree hugger around the tree (I had an extra long tree hugger available but never used it) and slipped a nano biner through the loop, slipped the rope through the biner and the cleat. Then I would wrap the webbing around the other tree and connect the biner to the webbing. Then I would tighten up and adjust as necessary so that the hammock would be about equal distance between the trees, when everything still in the skins. Then I would let the tarp out of the skins and stake down, then un-skin the hammock, and I was essentially done. This would all take just a very few minutes. All I had left to do was to pull the Hennessy under pad out the pack and unroll it under the hammock inside of the undercover. Then I would usually loosen the hammock up enough to use as a chair, and sit down and relax a few minutes, and then start getting things out of my pack as needed, while I was seated. (After a couple of days of this, I started getting a lot of questions and interest and curiosity about the hammock from my tent bound friends -- very different from last year when I was at the bottom of the learning curve).

    Here is an observation on the nylon cleat: it worked just fine, and never showed any signs of significant deformity after multiple night's use. The crossbars would bend just slightly after I had slept all night, but then they would usually straighten back out during the day. I weighed about 202 pounds at the start of this trip. This worked very good with the webbing/buckle on the other end. If I ever had to loosen things up, for an adjustment, it was always easier to loosen at the cleat. Then I could tighten up pretty darn good at the cleat when reversing the adjustment, and put the final torque at the buckle end. I used the cleat on the foot end, because of its lower rating. I feel like I'd be better off, if it broke, and my backup knot did not hold, if my feet headed to the ground first. But, they work great together, each with its own advantages. The next thing I want to look into is the hitch craft.

    I used the Harbor freight 1500 pound polyester webbing on the cinch buckle end. It had a tendency to slide sideways a bit when I would really tighten it up, or if I ever tried to loosen it. Another reason why I found it just easier to loosen at the cleat end. But it was superquick just wrapping the webbing around the tree and then connecting the biner back to the webbing. And even though it sometimes slid sideways in the buckle, I could still always get plenty of tightness before this happened. I believe I have noticed (since I got back) that this does not seem to happen as much with the Speer webbing, which even though it is only rated 800 pounds seems to be just a smidgen thicker. I may go back to using it instead of the Harbor freight.

    Note on super shelter: it worked great on this rainy, foggy trip. But I learned something. I have never before had any condensation issues. But the humidity out here was about as high as it can get, in fact fog was a frequent companion. So as I described on my first night making camp late at night in the dark, since it wasn't very cold I decided to do without the space blanket. But when I got up the next morning there was a fair amount of condensation in the foot of the the under cover/pad, which was somewhat wet on that end. Fortunately it dried out fairly quickly, so I was good to go by that night. But from then on I took the trouble to unroll the space blanket over the under pad. That way any moisture coming from my body would condense on the space blanket instead of in the under pad. For some reason on all of the subsequent nights, I did not notice as much condensation on anything, space blanket or otherwise, as I did that first night. It was really only a minor problem after that. Maybe I had better ventilation at the other camps for some reason, I don't know. But I think from now on I'm always going to use the space blanket if for no other reason than to catch condensation before it reaches my pad. But on this trip the super shelter served to keep me warm and toasty every night of the trip.

    I had an interesting learning experience with the super shelter. Whenever I use the hammock as a lounger, I disconnect it from the undercover and pull it out of the undercover completely. Then I sit with in the hammock with the super shelter off to one side of the hammock. So one night I don't hook things back up until it's dark and nearly time to go to bed. I pull the undercover and pad underneath the hammock and reattach the elastics. I hop in and pass out. About twelve thirty I woke up with a distinct cold spot on the left half of my back! I thought that was pretty strange as I had not had that happen before. I turned my headlight on and look the right side of the hammock and I can see the under pad in place, but when I look on the left side and I cannot see it. So I dog cuss the super shelter, assuming it's just not working right for some reason, and I shift my body position to the right and try to go back to sleep. It's a no go, the cold spot is now much smaller but it's still there on the far left side of my back and shoulder. So being quite irritated, I figure I'm going to have to take my parka and put it under there for extra insulation as I have done in the past on super cold nights. Well, I get out and start to do that but then I take a look around with the headlight. And I discoverd that when I hooked things back up, I failed to run the elastics through the left side loop on the under pad! But I did connect it on the right side, hence the whole darn thing is pulled off to the right side of the hammock! So I do not put my parka under there, but just attach things like they're supposed to be, and crawl back in. Within a few minutes I feel instant warmth on my back, and sleep through the night undisturbed. Things work better when you follow the directions! I never had any other cold spots whatsoever underneath me on this trip. Towards the end, since I had them anyway, I went ahead and started using the kidney/torso pad on top of the main pad and of course all pads underneath the space blanket. Worked perfectly. With my Mac Cat deluxe tarp, and the Sil-nylon under cover, I stayed bone dry/warm thru many days and nights of sometimes blowing rain, but mostly steady drizzle.

    I decided in the future, on a trip like this, I could save some weight by going without a sleeping bag and just using my Bozeman Mountain Works Polarguard parka and pants. So the last night of the trip I gave it a try. First I went to sleep in just my longjohns, very warm, with my sleeping bag and Bozeman stuff inside theirbstuff sacks, attached to the Ridgeline at the foot. I woke up after a couple of hours cold, and slipped into the Boseman parka and pants and went back to sleep. I woke up at about 7 a.m. feeling just a little bit cold, but only on top. I was plenty warm under my back and lower body, with the SS still doing it's job. Since it was about time to get up, I did not bother to get my sleeping bag out and just went ahead and got up and started packing. This was the coldest night of the trip, unfortunately I don't know the temperature. But I did make it to at least past 6 a.m. before I got a little uncomfortable, without using a sleeping bag or quilt. Something for me to consider for future trips where the temperature is not going to be much below 50. Or at the very least I can start taking a much lighter quilt to use in conjunction with my insulating garments.

    More later if I remember new details about the trip.

    I'm glad I wasn't taking shelter from the storms here on this night!


    The tarps made for good group gathering spots in the rain, notice pads and things belonging to others under my tarp!

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    Last edited by BillyBob58; 09-16-2007 at 17:02.

  4. #4
    slowhike's Avatar
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    nice trip & report billybob!
    i'll read it again when i get back from hot springs.
    awesome place!
    don`t leave the CREATOR out of the creation!

  5. #5
    BillyBob58's Avatar
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    We no sooner got that great shot of Mt.Shuksan from Austin Pass than clouds poured in and covered her up! As you can see, hammocking spots are a challenge up here( though not non-existent), hence the reason I always lug the extra weight of pads.



    Unfortunately, Mighty Mt.Baker was already lost in the clouds by the time we got cameras ready to go. I can't imagine that I actually climbed this thing when I was a younger man, about June 1988, I think. I don't do that anymore, I'll leave that to you youngsters!



    There were a few more trees available on this slope. We are right at timberline, 5000 foot level. Above 6000 ft, trees were as scarce as hens teeth. That's my old backpacking buddy Tom, from Asheville, NC, on the left.


    PS: Those sharp, dark peaks with glaciers behind me are not Mt.Baker, it is in the clouds above those thousands more feet, pretty much solid ice.
    Last edited by BillyBob58; 09-16-2007 at 17:20.

  6. #6
    Member Egads's Avatar
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    Billybob58,

    Great trip report. I really enjoyed reading it. I'm glad you took your hammock and found adequate trees to hang from. Great pics too.

    My wife & I made our 1st NW trip this July & went to the beaches, the Hoh River Valley, the Enchanted Valley, & Hurricane Ridge at ONP. It is so beautiful that I wish we could live there. We were completely amazed the snow / ice line was at 3,500 ft and we could not make our planned hike.

    Cheers,
    Egads

  7. #7
    BillyBob58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Egads View Post
    Billybob58,

    Great trip report. I really enjoyed reading it. I'm glad you took your hammock and found adequate trees to hang from. Great pics too.

    My wife & I made our 1st NW trip this July & went to the beaches, the Hoh River Valley, the Enchanted Valley, & Hurricane Ridge at ONP. It is so beautiful that I wish we could live there. We were completely amazed the snow / ice line was at 3,500 ft and we could not make our planned hike.

    Cheers,
    Egads
    Yes, Enchanted valley was one of the main alternates routes we considered!

  8. #8
    Senior Member FreeTheWeasel's Avatar
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    Nice trip report. Thank you very much. I'm moving from Minneapolis MN to Ashland Oregon in December. I've never been there before, but after your report and all the information on Google Earth, I'm looking forward to it. It looks like an outdoor paradise.

    FreeTheWeasel

  9. #9
    BillyBob58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeTheWeasel View Post
    Nice trip report. Thank you very much. I'm moving from Minneapolis MN to Ashland Oregon in December. I've never been there before, but after your report and all the information on Google Earth, I'm looking forward to it. It looks like an outdoor paradise.

    FreeTheWeasel
    WooHoo! Yep, it's sweet geography, as long as you don't mind more than your share of gloomy days, particularly in winter. Those trees ( I've still got to get those pics on here) didn't grow to 15 feet in diameter and 300 feet hi in a dry climate! But when the weather is nice, it's hard to match the beauty and diverse landscape ( a glacier sitting at nearly 15000 feet visible from the ocean, or from land at 200- 1500 feet, incredible forests, snow/ice/deserts etc).
    Bill

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