Monday, February 22, 2010

Campsite #30 Smoky Mountains



  Well, we did it again! Took a supposedly easy hike and turned it into the hardest hike I've done in years (if the way my legs feel are any indication)  possibly ever. Not a technical or steep hike, but a continuous uphill ascent for 6 miles(about 1200ft elevation change). At times we thought, what an easy hike...and wow this is straight...does it ever get hard!!  Then we ran into 6-12 inches of snow
 about 4 miles in and the going got much tougher!  And to top things off we brought our fishing gear hoping to catch some of those elusive smoky mountain trout. So our packs were quite a bit heavier than we are used too and we really didn't plan for snow so our shoes and socks got wet.  And unfortunately Wayne got a little wetter with that  slip in the second creek crossing
but we won't mention that, boy that water is cold.
  We arrive at the campsite
and of course not expecting the white stuff ( thank you Mr. weatherman) you have to deal with the usual lack of dry wood, the snow covered cold ground, colder feet and the general everything-being-harder-in-the-snow!!
    I must say, it is very beautiful country to hike in
with nature at her finest.
    The fish weren't biting and it was a lot colder than it was supposed to be and I can barely walk today!! But all in all I enjoyed myself .Just expect the worst. We're supposed to know that...haha .

 

Friday, December 11, 2009

Underquilt (Clark North american)



I've been trolling around the hammock boards and various other forums and finally came to the conclussion that I don't need to spend a lot of money on the "expensive" underquilts.


So I went down to Wally world and bought one of those $15 egg crate mattress pads. $15 dollars worth of $1 a yd silnylon. ( way more than I needed, but hey I couldn't resist) and $15 dollars worth of 5/8 buckles and webbing  and created this...well actually my wife did the sewing...I was the inspiration...yeah that's it....




As you can see it's an open cell pad in the shape of the bottom of my hammock...duh
  I cut out a rough shape then drafted my oldest boy ( to give the hammock the proper swag) and attached the roughed out pad and adjusted and tweaked till I got it right. Then I cut and pleated it where it bulged and glued it back together with elmers spray on adhesive ( surprisingly it works very well) at which point I got my wife to sew a 1" binding around the perimeter where I then sewed 4 adjustable buckles on the binding and on the underside of the hammock













It took a little fitting but it wasn't bad.
Then I tackled the silnylon sack covering it ( to prevent rain and wind from blowing right through the open cell). The struggle I had here was me trying to over think it. I tried buckles, buttons and velcro to no avail...the shape and bunching of the silnylon caused real problems...so finally I just made a giant pack cover...shock cord around the perimeter and a couple barrel cordlocks and it worked perfectly.














All packed up in a medium Granite gear Compression sack it weighs in at a meager 1lb 13oz and is very managable














I've used this set up in 29 degree snowy weather with a 30 degree down bag and I was very comfortable. So hopefully I can endure some colder weather when it gets here ... Enjoy

Virgin falls (Overlook) Nov. 27-28



The clouds were rolling in and I knew it would be a good weekend to try out the new underquilt I made for my hammock. I got off work early, rushed to get everything ready and headed out. Even with all the rush I still showed up right at dark. So I hiked in on a beautiful 30ish degree night,  glad to be on the trail. The hike was uneventful...the overlook was unoccupied and there was plenty of firewood...and this is what I woke up too


 My first snow trip of the season and I was snug as a bug...


its a total white-out...


Moderate difficulty indeed!!!


 Everything looks so different after snow...



All and all it was a great trip..I love to hike in the snow :)




Sunday, March 29, 2009

Virgin Falls Pocket Wilderness 3-21-09 - 3-22-09

I went out to Virgin Falls with an old friend. Chris and I got in late, but made it to the Caney Fork campsites before the sunset. There were many more people there than I have ever seen in all the years I have been going there (41 cars in the parking lot). The weather was beautiful and with the exception of all of the people it was a great trip. The falls did not disappoint due to the recent rains. We hiked out fairly early after exploring the falls a bit. It is a pretty taxing hike, but well worth the effort.




Sunday, February 22, 2009

Bearwaller Gap Trail



This is a trip that we have been planning for quite sometime, but have never gotten around to, until now. We arrived at the trail head in Carthage, TN at around 1pm. The temperature was very pleasant, probably around 65 degrees or so, but we knew that was not going to last. A cold front was expected to arrive at any time and bring with it rain and snow. We threw on our packs and headed up the trail with Two Prongs Campsite as our destination. We had read that the trail was difficult, and it was. The trail was very steep and not very wide in sections.



Along the way we passed some very nice overlooks of Cordell Hull Lake, and old fences where there once were home sites.



The rain started just about the time of our arrival at the camp site. The site was very nice with a picnic table, outhouse, shelter & spring house. We set up the tents and went ahead and cooked dinner inside the shelter. After an early dinner due to the rain and significant temperature drop, we were off to our respective tents. I read for a while and was awoken to the sound of a bobcat and bird of some sort tangling in the woods very near the tent, I don't think it turned out well for the bird. A tree fell nearby at some point afterwords, but other than that it was a cold uneventful night. When we awoke and got up for breakfast the temperature had dropped in the low twenties. At least that is as approximate as I can be as we did not bring a thermometer on this trip. We decided against hiking on out to Tater Knob overlook as it would add another six miles on a very cold morning. We packed all of our frozen gear up and headed back out the way we came. As was stated before this is a pretty difficult trail and that made for a strenuous hike back out. We will most likely make this a regular trip, as it is very close to home, but will most likely shuttle it on the next trip.





Tuesday, February 3, 2009

FireSmith Mk1

Well, I had used some other alky stoves and decided I'd workup something swank to for an overnighter to Ice Water Springs, GSMNP. Spending most of the afternoon/night running around  trying to find aluminum beer bottles that, to my chagrin, are  no longer are made, I was FINALLY directed to an energy drink with the appropriate containers. Once the materials were obtained, it took a bit of work to make the parts, but the results LOOKED right. I was finally able to test it nearly at midnight. You get looks when you're boiling water on your ground floor patio on a hobo stove as your neighbor returns from a late night supermarket run. 

















It primed properly, water was boiled and I was satisfied enough to carry it instead of my Svea 123. I wasn't sure about it fuel consumption and it seems that that will be the next thing to master. It performed well enough, though my next one will be made slightly different. 
  

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Grayson Highlands

It's "dry socks" good!