Thursday, January 27, 2011

Morning Fog

Gone now.

The foggy morning is no longer foggy.

Or dark.

Still winter though.



Friday, January 14, 2011

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ultralight Commandments

Lose weight while u think.

Remember that gross weight got that name for a reason.

Choose whether to carry weight in your belly or on your back, but get accustomed to the taste first, while you are still at home and can watch TV.

Even a trip of a thousand miles begins with one step. The first is to buy a scale. The second is to use it. The third is learning to fudge.

Practice hiking naked. It is practical. Naked people are also funny.

Do not carry heavy rocks in your pack. Experienced hikers carry only light rocks.

If your pack is so light that you forget it is there, then it is light enough. Expect to lose it in a strong wind. Just before a big storm hits.

Get your base weight down to 15% of your body weight. Then diet.

Poop more.

Make all your gear of camouflage cloth. There is nothing lighter than being invisible.

Try to plan ahead. Try to be efficient. Try to be good. If you can't then learn to yogi while telling entertaining lies.

Learn to hold your breath. Breathing uses energy. Energy requires food. So: breathe less, eat less, carry less.

Humping a heavy pack is a sin, especially if you are caught in the act. This goes double if someone has a camera. And if it is their pack.

Donate your old heavy things to your daughter's boyfriend. Judge the outcome as a chance to hone your observational skills. And as the source for at least one good story.

If you need it, bring it. If not, don't. If wrong, borrow. If you can't borrow, steal. Also, practice sprinting before you start your hike.

Remember, swiftness is for the young, unless you have a light pack. Then, even geezers can run fast.

Avoid parasites unless you are one. If so, be fun. Everyone loves a show, and a little missing blood is a small price to pay for a good time, easily forgiven.

Use dehydrated water whenever possible, despite the expense.

Do not covet anyone else's gear. Instead, steal their ideas, which are much lighter and pack smaller.

Taste everything to see if it is good. Surprises often come in small packages, though some have stingers.

Keep in mind that to some you are crunchy and taste good.

Based on: UL 10 Commandments


Monday, January 10, 2011

Recent Weather

More of the same, with some of the other stuff too.

Winter here is generally wimpy. Rain, overcast, and rain. But you still want to get out and hike.

About a week ago we had a stretch of cold, clear sunny weather. Which was nice. Sunny during the day, and cold, and clear overnight, and colder.

All of which, however, left the roads icy every morning.

Having lived in North Dakota for my first 28 years, I generally don't panic at the sight of ice. Even if it's hanging out on on the road. After all, it is America's Measuring Stick for backwardness, incomprehensibility, and hard freezes.

Whether deserved or not. But it is cold there. A lot. For a long time. Every year. But.

Western Washington is different. We do have a bit of snow, and a bit of freezing. (Talking about the lowlands here.) Generally everything remains green but there are those bits of other things. Which do make a difference.

For instance, a few years ago I was on the road to go for a routine Saturday-morning hike, on a day like those we've been having lately, and I lost the car. "Black ice" is what they call it around here. Even standing right on top of it after crawling out the car's driver-side window (which was at that point the only way out), I couldn't see the ice. Or actually even stand on it.

So now I'm skittish. Rain: OK. Mud: OK. Wind: OK. Ice: Yeeps!

Having ended one trip hanging sideways from the seatbelt, and in need of a replacement car, I wait for warmer days. The geese are still here, grazing on lawns, every so often we get some sun, and it all seems like a matter of ticking days off the calendar. But I still wonder what the geese are thinking. They always seem to take off headed south.

And what is it about this snow again, today?

Don't we get rain here?

Time for another nap I guess.


Friday, January 7, 2011

Underquilt Attachment

A while back I did a post on making a hammock underquilt.

Since I didn't have all week to produce good illustrations I faked it. Overall it was crude but sort of effective, except for one part: how the hammock and the underquilt hook together.

Well, believe it or not someone wanted to know more. Although what I've got works, it's more like a good idea for a prototype than anything else. In other words, I made the hammock, the underquilt, and invented my own way of attaching the two, which does work, and is better than what I had before, but is still pretty crude.

Did I mention crude? OK, only three times so far.

Most underquilt configurations I've see illustrated use what I tried first, which is an anchor on each end of the hammock, with a line on each side of the hammock and elastic in there somewhere. I used shock cord for the whole length, and sewed a fabric tube on each side of the underquilt, running the shock cord through that.
1. The basic idea (enlarge for a better view.)

Pull the shock cord tight and the underquilt snugs up against the bottom of the hammock. Hypothetically. Sometimes not so well. But mostly. Loosy-goosy.

Given the geometry, with a long run of cord on each side of the hammock, sag is inevitable and slop is assured. The solution is more tension. If that doesn't help enough, get heavier shock cord, restring, and do over.

Then when you get out of the hammock it all scrunches and puckers into a ball.

Then there is the Hennessy Problem.

Say you get back into bed and notice that you are warm from your spine left. Your spine, your left shoulder and buttock, and points higher, which, of course, belong only to your astral body, not the physical one. If you are deft you can sometimes pinch through the hammock fabric, grab the underquilt and painstakingly slide it back under you.

But not always.

If not you get out of the hammock, putting your shoes on, stuffing the sleeping bag behind you as you go, so it doesn't come along and end up on the ground, and do the readjustment, get back in (carefully), and finally pass out after you are done swearing.

Since the Hennessy design has its entryway at the bottom of the foot end, you can't simply reach over one side and tug things into alignment as with the older style of hammock.


Then the other thing. (No, I'm not done yet.)

The other thing.

Sometimes after watering the night-blooming flowers you get back to bed as before, have your shoes hanging up by a string from the ridge line, have put your sleeping had on, got your gloves on, have struggled to get back into your sleeping bag if it's too cold to use it as a quilt, are all zipped up and are sweating only moderately, and then you notice that your whole back seems oddly cool.

You figure that it will pass in a moment, and try to sleep. No. You really knew better but it's always better to make a denial first, pretend you can make it all go away, and only deal with things when there is no alternative.

Eventually you realize that the entire underquilt, because of its suspension system, got off to one side when you climbed back into the hammock. This is in fact the worst case, short of being hit by lightning or having something with an enormous tooth-filled mouth come by to see if you are tasty.

Since the underquilt isn't positively attached to the hammock and is under a lot of elastic tension, it can snake around, silently going sproing off one side while you are getting into the hammock, even though you made sure to align it all before putting any weight on it.

Nothing to do but get all the way out, rearrange things, and try again.

You are always more careful the second time, but still you get the underquilt decentered, sometimes, in case you have not already exceeded your profanity limit for the night.

So what I did when making a whole new hammock was to sew loops along both sides of the hammock, and similar loops on the sides of the underquilt. Then I threaded shock cord through the loops: up, over, down, under, up, and so on. Each side got the same treatment.
2. Same as above, but with shock cord (enlarge, OK?).

I put a cord lock on each end of the shock cord and made sure to add big knots to secure the cord locks. And I used plenty of shock cord, so I could throw in as much slack as I needed to, and then some.

The head and foot end of the underquilt were the same as before, each with a separate length of shock cord through its own sewn-in fabric tube. This lets me pucker the head end or the foot end of the underquilt, to get it snug there.

So what I have now works a bit like shoelaces, or a grommeted tarp on a pickup truck. There is one line of shock cord on each side of the hammock, holding up the underquilt, and I can let the quilt hang down low or snug it as tight as I want. And it never moves around.

Both sides of the underquilt come all the way up the sides of the hammock, less an inch or two, and they stay there. The head end and foot end are nicely closed off, and I stay cozy.

I swear less on the trail now, so I have to do that at home. But at home I have beer and cookies for refreshment. Could be worse.

Note on the illustrations (in case you were wondering what they were): Granted, they are not good by any means, but I think they show the details well enough for anyone else to either have a good laugh or to get the idea so they can make something similar, but, of course, better. Cuz y'all are smarter than me anyhow. I know that and goodonya besides.

Run with it.