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  1. #1
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    Noob question: Go to ground?

    New to the forums here and hammock camping in general. I've read on the forums a bit, just finished "The Ultimate Hang," and watched Shug's video series.

    This topic may be covered elsewhere (apologies if it is,) but I couldn't find it with the search.

    I've seen mention in several threads of the need to "go to ground." In places you can't hang, above the treeline or due to local policy, why you may need to do this is obvious. However, I've also seen it mentioned due to weather and other conditions, and the "why" is eluding me.

    1 - In what weather or conditions situations might one need to go to ground?
    2 - What does going to ground in these situations offer from a warmth/safety perspective that hanging doesn't?
    3 - Are there back-up-gear considerations that need to be factored for these situations on longer hikes?

    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by moos; 12-06-2012 at 09:34.

  2. #2
    DivaB's Avatar
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    Personally I can't see ever going to ground unless the hammock suspension breaks ....or there are no trees anywhere in site.

    I guess if you have a small tarp that you can't shut or pull it in closer, and weather is really bad and blowing rain or snow then you'd go to ground and just hope for the best.

  3. #3
    Senior Member bear bag hanger's Avatar
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    There are several reasons you might have to go to ground, you listed a couple of them. Cold weather could cause you to go to ground if you do not have enough insulation when hanging. For the most part, the ground is an even 65 degrees no matter where you are. A thin sleeping pad is all you need then. If you're on a ten day hike and wil only encounter really cold weather on one night, might not be worth the extra weight of a thicker sleeping pad or thick unerquilt just for one night when you can go to ground that night.

  4. #4
    Dos's Avatar
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    I think one has to consider the length of the trip as well.

    Are you talking about a 3-4 day trip? or a 6 month thru hike?

    I personally take all logistical considerations into a decision.
    I make my decision as one would in a strategic game: what is best for me
    (or group x) at this particular time with these particular circumstances.

    Is Hurricane Sandy whipping up from behind you?
    or are you heading over tree line and it's going to dip into the teens?

    Things like this.

    on my AT thru hike this year, I happened upon the town of Kent at like 3:30 in the afternoon. I needed to do laundry and re-supply. And I mentally could have used a shower. So, stay in town was the logical choice.
    But there were no hostels in the area and hotel prices were of the gouging variety.
    A local had told me thru hikers were welcomed in the town park.
    I thought, "great. do laundry. get something to eat. oops, beer was closed on Sunday. go to the park."
    It was a beautiful park with gorgeous grass. But it abutted 4 very nice houses. If I HANG, here, (which is not the norm for this particular community)
    I might have the police asking me questions in the middle of the night.
    I did NOT want my sleep disturbed.
    So....I cowboy camped on the very back edge of the park.
    Had I hung, it would have been wayyyy out of these locals' comfort zones.
    So I laid my hammock on my sleeping pad, and slept with my hammock as a bug net.
    Worst sleep EVER on the entire trail.


    but, it was the best logistical decision considering how far out of town I was, what time of day it was, the weather was perfect, mentally, I needed a nero town day (half the miles). So that was that.

    Each situation is different.

    Just make the best logistical decision you can with all factors being included.

    My .02

    Dos
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~
    In some mysterious way woods have never
    seemed to me to be static things.
    In physical terms, I move through them;
    yet in metaphysical ones,
    they seem to move through me. -
    John Fowles


    GA --> ME '12

  5. #5
    Senior Member Cannibal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moos View Post
    However, I've also seen it mentioned due to weather and other conditions, and the "why" is eluding me.
    Me too and it's a fairly new trend.

    I will agree that severe cold combined with an ill prepared hanger, could be a valid reason to go to ground. But weather? This I simply don't understand. Much of the recent trend may simply be that as we grow, we are 'converting' people that are still more comfortable (from a knowledge perspective) on the ground, compared with the small group of 'hard-cores' that started things off around here. I think it is fair and natural to think this way in the beginning. There was a time that I actually bothered to mess around with the hammock/bivy concept before I realized it had almost zero application to my style of hiking.

    Lack of a supportive terrain or a hanger leaving without the proper equipment would be good reasons to go to ground. Then again, the hanger should be already aware of both when they leave for their trip, so a decision should have already been made.

    As Dos points-out, longer trips are different. Some days, you simply might not want to be hassled by the effort of setting up your hammock. That falls under "choice" though, not "need". Like we used to say, "the ground is for walking on, not sleeping on."
    Trust nobody!

  6. #6
    Senior Member lazy river road's Avatar
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    In my experience Their has never been a time where Ive had to or needed to for safety reasons had To go to ground however their have been times where Ive been like better get my hammock set up so I can stay dry and warm. The only time I have gone to ground is when I have simply been to lazy to set up my hammock. And when that happens I always wake up regretting it. I also feel more confident in my hanging abilities then my ground dwelling ones and in cold conditions know I can stay warm in a hammock but have been cold on the ground in similar temps.
    Sometimes I like to hike and think, And sometimes I just like to hike.

    Hiking is'ent about waiting for the storm to pass its about learning to hike in the rain.

  7. #7
    Senior Member ibgary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bear bag hanger View Post
    There are several reasons you might have to go to ground, you listed a couple of them. Cold weather could cause you to go to ground if you do not have enough insulation when hanging. For the most part, the ground is an even 65 degrees no matter where you are. A thin sleeping pad is all you need then. If you're on a ten day hike and wil only encounter really cold weather on one night, might not be worth the extra weight of a thicker sleeping pad or thick unerquilt just for one night when you can go to ground that night.
    "the ground is an even 65 deg no matter where you are.".
    Well then why does snow stick where I am?

  8. #8
    grannypat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ibgary View Post
    "the ground is an even 65 deg no matter where you are.".
    Well then why does snow stick where I am?
    And how does it freeze?
    Keep movin', keep believing and enjoy the journey!

  9. #9
    Senior Member egrant5329's Avatar
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    I think hangers on the AT often go to the ground to use shelters when they don't want to mess with setting up. In the White Mountains there are areas you would have to drop way down to find something decent enough to hang from.
    Ed

  10. #10
    Senior Member perdidochas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moos View Post
    New to the forums here and hammock camping in general. I've read on the forums a bit, just finished "The Ultimate Hang," and watched Shug's video series.

    This topic may be covered elsewhere (apologies if it is,) but I couldn't find it with the search.

    I've seen mention in several threads of the need to "go to ground." In places you can't hang, above the treeline or due to local policy, why you may need to do this is obvious. However, I've also seen it mentioned due to weather and other conditions, and the "why" is eluding me.

    1 - In what weather or conditions situations might one need to go to ground?
    2 - What does going to ground in these situations offer from a warmth/safety perspective that hanging doesn't?
    3 - Are there back-up-gear considerations that need to be factored for these situations on longer hikes?

    Thanks in advance.
    I have two reasons to go to ground: 1) too cold weather (I'm a Florida cold weather wimp. Below 40, I go to ground.) and 2) no suitable trees.
    Time is but the stream I go afishing in. Henry David Thoreau

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