Appalachian Trail , 5/24 – 5/26

(Not meant for edification or entertainment, just notes to self. Here is a pretty picture for you.:

1. Hammock post

My hammock (Claytor Expedition) arrived Friday afternoon as I was packing my backpack to head for a 3-day hike on the GA AT. Since I had already purchased the webbing, rings & biners needed for the suspension upgrade, I spent the rest of the evening swapping it out and cursory setup testing in the back yard.
I hit the trail Saturday morning with the hammock instead of my tarp tent. The weather was perfect.

Fist night I spent I was disappointed. I tried lying diagonal but could never find the “flat” sweet spot. My feet were too high and I spent a restless night with fidgety feet, tossing and turning, and constantly trying to pull myself up the head-side slope. Even had a dream where I dumped myself out, ripping the bug netting, to the jeers of the rest of the camp site.

I was on the trail early, and about a mile up the trail passed a camp of several HH [Hennessy Hammock] hangers just waking up. First time I saw one of those in person. They are certainly nice and wide. I spent the rest of the day wondering if an HH might not be better suited for this “asym” flat sleeping, despite their drawbacks vs. the Claytor design.

Night #2 – at the camp site I could not find 2 trees far enough apart, so resorted to a much steeper sag than the night before, with the rings practically touching the trees. EUREKA – discovered for myself that the sag is the secret to the asym sweet spot. I slept much more comfortably, even able to roll onto my side, almost my stomach. However my feet and head were on the bugnet seams when on the ideal asym angle. I was also 2x more exhausted, (asleep before sunset, no weird hammock dreams) so that may have influenced my observations.

So I feel like I can make this work without resorting to the ground or an HH after all (although they are oh-so-conveniently available at REI). I am thinking about a structural ridge line, perhaps, to “lock in” the ideal angle. Anybody done one? Is there an optimal length, or is it an optimal angle one is after? Also considering trying this asym W-fold and whipping mentioned on the DIY forum. Has that been done on a Claytor, abandoning the channels?

I can’t believe I hauled this brick of a camera with me and didn’t take any pics of the hammock hanging.

2. Trail Report
Day 1: Byron Reese parking lot to Low Gap. Via the gaps Neels, Tesnatee, & Hogpen. 13 miles, 7 hours.
Day 2: Low Gap to Blue Mountain (8mi/4 hours); Blue Mountain to Low Gap (8mi/3 hours); Low Gap to White Oak Stamp Gap (2 mi/1hr) = 18 miles/8 hours
Day 3: WOSG to Neels Gap, 7 miles/4 hours (if it doesn’t add up it’s because I bypassed the ~2 mile trail to the car from Neels Gap in favor of the .4 mi. paved road.)

3. Lessons Learned

  • Reconsider bringing camera (as in NOT bringing it). Perhaps only for once-in-a-lifetime hikes/events. A distance or thru hike, or a father-son hike qualify. A 2-night solo shakedown hike does not. Potential savings of 1 lb.
  • OR: consider attaching camera to front of harness or shoulder strap, so that I will think to use it more often, thus justifying the added weight.
  • 2 bandanas – one clean, one dirty. Or big dirty / little dirty, rather. Big: cleaning dishes, blowing nose, anything leaving considerable residue. Little: sweat band, wiping/wetting/washing face, straining creek water. Easily rinsed/wrung out.
  • Bring more fuel, and then some. Made dual mistake of not bringing second bottle/flask, and accidentally burning up 3/4 of fuel on first night. Snuffer did not work as planned (serves you right bringing untested gear on the trail). Was able to eat breakfast oatmeal cold, with no coffee, no high tea, to save fuel for last evening meal.
  • Keep eye out for lighter mug. It was invaluable, especially for canteen filling, but a last minute grab-what-you-have choice.
  • Work out system for washing/drying socks/underwear. Only applicable on future mutli-day hikes.
  • Camp shoes – crocks too bulky? Maybe flip flops?
  • Darker colored shirts – I was using the only synthetic/wicking/tech shirts I have – running shirts which are meant for high visibility. But white gets dirty. ( I don’t care about trendy “stealth” so much, but don’t want to look like Pigpen on Peanuts by the 2nd day)
  • Overall, system/kit/loadout was perfect for any length 3-season hike, with food volume being the only variable. Overall weight was 18.6 base, 23 with 3 days food, 25 with water. Not much left to reduce but as mentioned above.

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