Ten Lakes Basin, Yosemite National Park, CA
Ten Lakes Pass from Half Moon Meadow
The Trip: Ten Lakes in Yosemite NP, 8-9 Oct 05. Elevation ~8700ft.
The Weather: 34F at 9:30pm, 32F at 7:30am. Water frozen on the lake edge and a thick layer of ice in my 3L platypus hanging outside the HH. Low humidity, low wind, no precip. Estimated overnight low temp 20-25F.
The Site: Fairly protected by trees with the tarp perpendicular to the wind. About 15-20' higher than the lake.
HH Backpacker, MacCat Standard
Trees on one side, rocks on the other
- HH UL BP Asym
- JRB Nest underneath
- JRB No Sniveler inside
- MacCat Standard tarp
- 20" x 72" x .5" CCF pad
- Chemical hand warmer
I slept in:
- Head: Fleece balaclava, but ended up removing it.
- Torso: Coolmax T-Shirt, Polyester thermal top, Columbia Convert midlayer
- Legs: Swim trunks, Polyester thermal pants, Red Ledge Thunderlight rain pants
- Feet: Alpaca socks, thick polyester boot socks
The night went like this...
- 9:30pm - I went to bed at 34F. After spending a few minutes adjusting the underquilt, I laid there for a while deciding if I was warm enough...I was right on the edge. As the temp continued to drop, I decided I wasn't warm enough and kept fidgeting with the underquilt's fit.
- Midnight - I popped the handwarmer. It helped a little bit, but not as much as a hot water bottle. Of course, it didn't stink like one, either.
- 1:30am - I was cold enough to bring in the CCF pad. The pad with the underquilt kept me plenty warm to sleep.
- 7:30am - I woke up after sunrise to 32F.
Setting up the MacCat
Photo by Paige
- The filled Gear Hammock changes the shape of the HH enough that I always had a gap under my legs. I disconnected it from the side tie-out and put both Gear Hammock ends on the hammock support and this solved the problem.
- Underquilt fit is extremely important at the lower temperatures (under 40F). Temps down to about 40F are more forgiving of small air pockets between the hammock and underquilt, and I've never had a problem. This night, I felt every gap and it took some more adjusting. I finally got it perfect just before midnight, and I could really tell the difference when I did...warmed up quite a bit. As the temps kept dropping, it still wasn't enough. Shortly after this, I popped the handwarmer.
- The absolute low temp for me in the Nest/NS setup is 30F. I got some sleep between 10-midnight around this temp (maybe slightly colder), but I was still chilly. The comfortable low temp is probably ~37F...I could be toasty here.
- The CCF pad was a quick, no-fidget solution to warm me up. However, it added quite a bit of bulk to my pack, and without a SPE I still got a little chilly on the edges. I also removed my midlayer and put it on top of me so it wouldn't get any moisture buildup from the pad. I could feel moisture in my thermals when I rolled over, but it wicked out pretty quickly. I was not overheated when the moisture formed.
- My tarp tensioners weren't strong enough to use on the MacCat's ridgeline tie-outs when connecting to the HH hammock supports. When I doubled them up they worked fine. (Tying directly to the trees would have worked also, but I wanted to see if I could use the tensioners on the HH hammock supports. I usually the tensioners on the corner tie-outs.)
- The MacCat seemed to cut the wind very well. In one of the pictures I took, I can't see any of the HH under the tarp. (The tarp's ridgeline was barely above the HH's ridgeline, but the sides weren't pitched low and steep like a storm setup. The hammock was also unoccupied...I should have asked someone to take a picture with me inside. But the point is that the MacCat provided excellent wind protection.)
I almost brought a second bag for backup instead of the pad, so I could use the Nest/NS on bottom, and the bag inside. It would have been much less bulky, but my other bag weighs 40 oz so I picked the 15 oz pad instead.
Extrapolating this, I considered bottom insulation with a pad vs double underquilts. The two overstuffed quilts with suspension system weighs about 45 oz...approximately the same as an Exped DAM with SPE and wing pads. The double quilts would have helped compensate for the sensitivity to small air gaps, and I'm confident that two quilts on the bottom would have kept me toasty that night.
How I adjusted the underquilt:
This is gonna sound complicated, but it's really not...it's just tough to explain over the internet. Of course, it's not as simple as throwing a pad in the hammock, either. There are lots of variables affecting how it will hang for each individual and each site, so it was kinda trial and error to get it right, but I think the same tricks would work for everyone. A few of these I did before I even got in. The only things I did after I was ready for bed was tighten the suspension on the foot end and move the velcro position.
Here are some things that helped me:
- Tightening the drawstrings on the end too much creates a pocket of air at that end...tighten them only enough to snug the quilt to the hammock. Remember that you might have a gap between the Nest and hammock while unoccupied, because the hammock will stretch and sag when you get in.
- If you can't tell whether or not there's a gap under your back, ask a buddy to check for you. If no one is around, grab the HH along the bugnet seam and pull it towards you until you can see the Nest. Then grab the Nest through the bugnet and pull it up around you. Hold it there for a few seconds. If there's a gap, you should feel it get warmer pretty quickly. If it stays the same or gets a bit cooler, you're probably compressing the insulation and there isn't a gap there.
- Also, the quilt will tend to pull into a straight line from your butt (lowest point of contact) to where the suspension attaches to the HH rope. Tightening the suspension increases that angle, which tends to increase the gap under your back and knees. Not a big deal in 40F+ for me, but this time I found a different way to use the shockcord so that angle is as small as possible. It's simple to do but kind of tough to explain, but I'll try (eventually I'll post a pic). Attach the shockcord to the HH like the directions say. Before attaching the biners to the quilt, wrap it once around the very end of the hammock fabric (kinda like a half-hitch), then pull separate the two strands of shockcord and attach to the Nest as directed. This way, I could tighten the tension without changing the angle, and the direction of force remained more vertical and closer to the hammock's body, rather than pulling further and further away from the hammock.
- Use the right hole in the ladder loop. Along with this, I've found that tying the HH side tie-outs higher (rather than staking them to the ground) helps keep the Nest more snug along the bottom.
- Finding the right amount of tension can be tough. One thing that helped me was that after adjusting and climbing in, I put my hand through the HH slit and felt how much space was between the hammock and Nest under my butt.
- This night, I somehow had a nice fit along my back until it got to my butt, where I had a small pocket running from my butt to my legs. Attaching the Nest to the HH entry slit velcro helped keep the Nest snug to the hammock without compressing it. Later, I made an adjustment from inside the hammock by moving the quilt's velcro closer to the foot end before attaching it. That left about 3" of HH velcro attached to itself (next to my butt), then the Nest attached to the HH for the rest of the way.
That was the final adjustment I made to get the best fit, and probably the easiest since it was done from inside the hammock.
Overall, this was a great trip! Beautiful scenery, relatively easy hiking, and great company. Plus I got to test the limits of my gear...how much better does it get?