It's been a while since I have blogged. The reason is because I haven't been able to backpack recently. I had a big trip planned for the second week of March that ended up not happening. It was Spring Break at the University but not at my kids' schools. So I decided to try a 3-day trip on one of the longer sections of the Ozark Trail. I bought my food, packed up my gear, printed my maps, and had it all ready to go the night before. The next morning I woke up with a stomach virus including vomiting, fever, body aches, the works. So no backpacking trip.
Since then my teaching load at the University has increased and so there hasn't really been time to get away.
I have a new piece of gear I've been wanting to try but so far have only tried in the back yard. It's an 11x10 Cat Tarp from Jacks R Better. The Cat stands for catenary, meaning that the sides are cut as catenary curves rather than lines. This means that the tarp flaps less in the wind. The large size means that there is enough excess room that you can fold the edges of the tarp in to create doors as I did below.
This provides extra protection from wind and rain. Notice that I have also pulled out the sides to make it look even more tent-like. There is one tie-out on the side of the tarp in the middle but I created a second one using Grip Clips. You can see what I did more easily from the side.
I could have put doors on both sides but that begins to defeat the purpose of a tarp which is to provide maximum ventilation (to prevent condensation). Also there was really no room in this case because I set the tarp up along the short axis to make it as tall as possible. The reason was that Debbie and I were going to test the tarp out together in two hammocks, bunk bed style!
Here was the setup. I put the bridge hammock on the bottom and a simple gathered-end hammock on top.
And here's our lovely model demonstrating!
The weather was a bit cold, about 40 degrees with wind, so we each used a closed-cell foam pad under us. I followed the advice of a friend on hammmockforums.net who suggested putting the end with the doors into the wind. That way the tarp splits the wind rather than providing a big target for the wind to push against as it would be if you faced the broad side of the tarp into the wind. The open end faces away from the wind. Stopping the wind this way is critical when using a hammock because the wind will carry the warm air under you away and you will feel chilled.
This setup worked wonderfully. Debbie and I were amazed at how comfortable we were and we went right to sleep. It's nice to have your spouse close to you when you are camping! It make it feel so much more natural to go to sleep, even in the outdoors.