We have been wanting to do something like at least a quick overnight campout for some time. Coordinating schedules amongst even a small group of guys is challenging. We figured out the date though and we had a spectacular overnight campout.
Two of the guys had camped at Musch Camp a couple of times previously. It’s easily accessed, nearby, and frequently empty. Marko got there around 12:30pm Friday and parked near the trailhead (actually a gate on a paved road). When Tom and I arrived we found space next to Marko’s car (off of the pavement, near the gate). A nice spot in the shade.
Marko had told us that there is either a quarter mile walk up a steep hill on a paved road or a mile hike on a trail. We were lucky enough to get the spot near the paved road. The “mile hike on a trail” actually starts at Trippet Ranch. The paved road was critical for me.
When I was gathering my gear in the garage the night before I had noticed the wagon we use for kids’ gear and whatnot. It occurred to me that if I was only walking up a paved road then I could just pile my gear onto the wagon and pull the wagon up the road. My mindset has changed a lot from the kind of guy who would insist on packing it all up and carrying it all on my back. A wagon. Ha!
I went ahead and did it though. It was a comical thing. With the gear sitting on the wagon I was starting to think about the Joad family coming out West. The picture seems like just a few things on a wagon (a wagon!), but it felt like a lot of gear.
The hill was steep and more like a half mile than a quarter mile. A longer handle would have made it easier to pull up the hill (the front wheels kept wanting to lift up).
Anyway we made it to the camp easily. Marko had already setup his tent in a spot in the shade. Tom has two Hennessy Hammocks and he brought them both so that I could try one out. I was excited to give it a try because he’s been such a fan for a long time. Being cheap I haven’t wanted to lay out the money without knowing whether I’d be good with a hammock.
Tom hung his hammock on a hillside next to one of the campsites. It’s amazingly easy to hang the hammock up as long as there are two trees nearby. You do need to put in a stake on either side of the hammock to hold out the sides of the body of the hammock plus hold out the rainfly. As a lifelong tent camper it seems very strange to me to try to accept that sleeping on a hillside is a good choice. Cognitively it makes sense, but my old thinking patterns are not so quickly changed.
I found a separate pair of trees where I could hand my hammock. A nice spot between a couple of would-be widowmakers. The hammock goes up quickly and easily. The spot I chose gave me easy access around both trees as well. Initially, I had thought to skip the rainfly, but feeling some moisture in the evening air I eventually decided to keep the rainfly.
When sleeping in a hammock, even for a quick campout, you are vulnerable to getting a lot of cold air passing
underneath you. That cold air, even at 50°F, will make you very cold over the course of a night. So Tom made some insulation pads that he brought for me along with the hammock. There are two pads, each insulated with Reflectix and covered with some light fleece. They go in the bottom of the hammock. They were comfortable to sleep on and they did keep me warm. I brought an old lightweight sleeping bag (I think it was rated at 45° years ago). I was plenty toasty in shorts and a t-shirt all night long.
For colder weather there are hammock underquilts that provide some very good insulation. By being under and outside of the hammock, the underquilts maintain some good insulation and don’t get compacted.
Based on Tom’s suggestion I did try to make sleep sort of diagonally in the hammock. I was sleeping generally along the length of the hammock, but my feet were to the right side of the hammock and my head was to the left side of the hammock. The hammock was taut enough that I could sleep on my sides reasonably comfortably. It was definitely more comfortable on my back. I don’t generally sleep on my stomach and I don’t think it would have worked out anyway.
Stowing the hammock is a pretty quick and easy process. After emptying my gear out of the hammock I wrapped the stake lines around the hammock and fly. Then the yellow sleeves simple slide right down the body of the hammock. After that you simply untie from the trees and stow the snake-like hammock in your backpack. Or wagon. Ha!