What I Used For Shelter

Well, no fire fighting for me tomorrow. My toe is still not better and I’m having trouble navigating the medical support system here in America. Thank God I have my Dad (Expedition Medic) to consult.

So, since I’m home I thought I’d try to start on the gear reviews. But I don’t have time to go through everything in one go, so let’s just start with my shelter.

Close readers of my blog will remember that I mixed it up a lot. I started with a tent, but I hate tents and they’re heavy, so I mailed that away at Warner Springs. At that time I had a big enough ground sheet (Tyvek/HouseWrap) to cover me in a “Hobo Burrito” if there was unexpected rain or wind.

I was worried about Fuller Ridge so I picked up a bivy bag in Idylwild, which I was glad I had up there, and again near San Gorgonio.

Somehow I got separated from that and my groundsheet in Wildwood (turns out I bounced it ahead accidentally) and had nothing but my air mattress and sleeping bag until I got to Acton KOA. This required me to sleep in some garbage bags for shelter on a particularly cold, wet and windy night. That was probably my worst night on the trail. Without those garbage bags I might have died.

So I got a huge, heavy tarp at the hiker box in the KOA, but when it started raining I trolled the train bridge, which was one of my favorite camps of the trip!

In Tehachapi I swapped out the tarp for my bivy sack again, which was smart because there was a lot of cold nights, desert notwithstanding. And there’s a lot of wind in the desert, so the bivy keeps the wind off but there’s nothing flapping around (like a tent).

Worried about the Sierra, I swapped out the bivy for my full-on tent in Kennedy Meadows. But I hate tents. First night I set the whole thing up was probably the most wet I ever woke up. Condensation was raining down on me inside! Boo

But my tent, an MSR Hubba, has a feature where you can pitch the rain-fly without the tent underneath. I quickly came to love this option.

It’s a lot like Cowboy Camping because there’s plenty of fresh air and no floor. With all the ventalation I stayed nice and dry, so the only thing I had to dry out at lunch was the outside of the rainfly, not my bag or groundsheet.I won’t say where, but I even bulldozed everything to one side once and dug a “cathole” without having to leave my shelter, an option I may have employed again in the rainy parts of Washington. Digging a hole within your own shelter is good incentive to do a good job and Leave No Trace!

I know there’s lots of tarp tents out there, but I don’t think many are free-standing, which I really liked. Of course, bugs, particularly ants, can still get in, but I prefer that to all the condensation from being in a tent. Of course, the tent wasn’t made for this to be the primary mode, so it was a little difficult to pitch, especially in the wind. If I really wanted to pimp it out I would modify it so I could zip or Velcro a strip of mosquito netting around the bottom to close the inch or so gap around the bottom when the mozzies are really bad. Be a lot lighter than a whole tent.

So, in summary, for dew, frost and wind I would take my bivy bag. For heavy rain and hail (i.e., thunderstorms) I loved my free-standing rainfly without the rest of the tent. I do not recommend garbage bags, Ha Ha!

One thought on “What I Used For Shelter

  1. Hi Adam Sure have enjoyed reading about your adventures. Sorry to hear about your toe and your misadventures with the housekeeping! Now that we hear you are staying put, we will be mailing your package to you at your street address (could not find an apartment number). It will be safer with you than lying around here. Marcia Ashland


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