Just Jeff's Hiking Page

"Going to the woods is going home, for I suppose
we came from the woods originally."

- John Muir

First Annual Colorado Winter Hang
Burning Bear Campground near Grant, CO
26-28 February 2010

So as my tour in Fayetteville, NC, was coming to an end, I wanted to start planning a Colorado Winter Hang to match the Mt Rogers Winter Hangs in Virginia...only I started planning it about 5 months ahead of time because I was so excited! Here's the original thread where we're figuring out where to go and such. Big thanks to the folks who put in the leg work and knew the area well enough to narrow down the location. And it was a great idea to plan it for the night of the full moon, as well.

We decided on Burning Bear Campground in Pike National Forest, south of Breckenridge and near Grant, CO. It was a drive-up camping trip...we parked a couple hundred yards from where we set up, so we could bring all kinds of good stuff like lots of firewood, good food, and plenty of extra gear for the newbies. We had a few folks who had never winter camped before in a hammock...that's one of the great things about hangouts like this. It's the best time to see everyone's setups, and there's plenty of extra gear and experience for new folks to be warm and comfortable even if their first night in a hammock is at zero or below.

DISCUSS this trip here...the trip report starts on page 8 so that's where I linked to.

Burning Bear Campground
This was the view looking out towards the road from the campground...nice lighting coming up over the ridgeline hitting the face of the mountain.

Photo by Kaliram...he took some great close-ups of the fence.

Photo by Kaliram

Photo by Kaliram
There wasn't much of a parking lot...we just lined up on the driveway leading to the campground.
We spent almost all day Saturday sitting on our butts around the fire pit, eating and talking. From left to right: KnittingMelissa, Sevens, Warbonnet, freefall (Genuine Draft behind him), Cannibal.

Photo by freefall
Another picture of the group sitting around the fire...from left to right, it's Sevens, Warbonnet, Kaliram, Me (Just Jeff), DanaMac, KnittingMelissa, and Cannibal.
We had a good fire going from daybreak until about midnight Saturday, then started it right back up on Sunday. This pic was taken Sunday morning.
Genuine Draft came up for a while on Saturday to see Cannibal (and the rest of us), and brought their dog China...they say China doesn't like the snow but she sure seemed to have a great time running around sniffing at everything. And pushing us around as she tried to snuggle up...she's a pretty thick dog! Then Genuine Draft had to go get Cannibal some warmer boots...she disappeared for a while and came back with -40F boots for him! Guess he was warm after that...he kept telling us he had a good girl, but didn't say it loud enough for GD to hear. Guess he didn't want it going to her head! :-)
I started getting restless on Saturday after all that sitting around, so I decided to go for a quick hike. I walked out to the road and turned right, and here's what I saw...this is looking northwest towards the pass. It was a pretty good hike...I left at 3:45 and covered about 6 miles in two hours. I estimated based on walking about .5mi to mile marker 6, then about another .5 mi past mile marker 8. I was feeling pretty good b/c of my workout program, so I actually jogged a bit of it on the way back. I would have liked to jog more but I didn't want to start sweating. I was still pretty damp when I got back to camp, so I stripped down to my long johns and dried out by the fire before I put my insulation back on.
This pic is turning left out of the campground, looking southeast towards Grant, CO.

Photo by freefall
While I was out hiking they started the dinner...this is the beginning of it. I wish we had more pictures of everything, but there was A LOT of food! We had clam chowder, chili, juicy corn cooked in aluminum foil over the fire, hot cinnamon rolls, tamales, hot cider (sometimes spiked with Maker's Mark or Captain Morgans), peach cobbler...I don't even remember what else. There were hot dogs and brats, but we never got to those. I'm just glad we had so much firewood so we didn't have to scrounge any!
Some folks went to their hammocks for nap-time...others just passed out where they were...

Photo by Mustardman
Here's a view of the campground...DanaMac's setup is on the right, and mine is just past his but you can't see it. Beyond that are Cannibal's and Seven's setups.
Mustardman brought an iPod-sized movie projector and hung up this reflective screen so we could watch Zombieland over dinner Saturday night! It was pretty awesome. For the movie screen he used the same material that Warbonnet uses for the Yeti's reflective liners.
From left, food, freefall, Cannibal and Kaliram sitting around the fire.
We had so much food Saturday night that there were leftovers for breakfast. These are food's tamales that he warmed in the steamer. Sometimes car camping is great...this was so much better than a Mountain House meal!
The fire pit from up on the hill overlooking the campground.

Photo by freefall
There were lots of birds around the campsite during all daylight hours. These camprobbers would come right up to us looking for crumbs. We left some food out Saturday night, so Sunday morning they had a ball eating the peach cobbler. The Blue Jays would run them off every now and then.

Photo by Kaliram
My thermometer was kinda crazy...it showed 19F when I got to the campground at 10:30p Friday night, then 12F when I went to bed at 1:30a...but it had hit a minimum of 1F sometime in between. I reset it, and while I was sleeping it dropped back to 3.5F but rose to about 19F again when I got out of the hammock. This picture is Kaliram's thermometer...so we'll say Friday's low temp was right at 0F, give or take a few degrees. Saturday night was about 10F warmer.
food's Setup
I'll go thru everyone's setups, going generally from the left to the right as we approached the campround. food showed up on Saturday with the brightest hammock straps I've ever seen, and the best tamales I've ever had in the woods (and pretty damn good for out of the woods, too!). He also told us how he got his trailname...food stands for Flatulent Overweight Old Dude. Here he is sitting by the fire on Sunday.
food had his snowshoes, so he work-hardened the path from the main trail to his hammock...it was pretty easy to walk on after that, even without snowshoes. His hammock is to the right of the picnic table.
Close-up of food's setup. It was pretty easy to find his campsite b/c the webbing pretty much glows. I think he could read at night without his headlamp, especially with that blaze orange quilt! One time we weren't sure if he was napping but we saw all that orange moving from the fire pit so we figured he was in there.
freefall's Setup

Photo by Kaliram
freefall was pretty close to the fire pit...here he is setting up his hammock.
His Hennessy Hammock was pitched pretty close to the ground...easier to stay warm that way, but pretty hard to get out of the hammock. He didn't seem to have a problem with it, though.
Another view of freefall's hammock.
Kaliram's Setup
Kaliram had several interesting stories of his travels in Europe, and he had the sharpest socks in the campground...you can see some pics of them around the fire. Except KnittingMelissa said they were a girl's pattern...I didn't realize patterns had gender! They certainly looked warm, and he said they were about 20 years old. Quality gear never goes out of style!
Kaliram was pitched pretty close to the fire pit...convenient for hopping out of the hammock and coming over to the fire first thing in the morning.
Kaliram had a very large tarp, with pull-outs to give him all kinds of room inside.
Mustardman's and MrsMustardman's Setup

Photo by Mustardman
Mustardman and MrsMustardman showed up on Saturday with their three Corgies. Here are their Blackbirds with the DIY down underquilts that MrsMustardman made. They pitched a tent as a backup for the dogs, but tried to put them in the hammock with them. That didn't work out so well, so they ended up leaving around 9pm Saturday night. They got stuck a little on the way out, but I'm not gonna make fun of them for that. I'm just not that kind of guy, to make fun of somebody for getting stuck in the snow. Not me.
Seven's and Dragon's Setup
Sevens spent a few nights on the porch before coming out to Burning Bear, but this was his first campout in a hammock. Not bad to hit 0F on your first campout! He borrowed Cannibal's 3-Season Yeti, but Cannibal was so busy running around setting up everyone's hammocks that he didn't notice Sevens had put it on backwards! When I showed up Friday night, Sevens was up trying to fix his setup. I didn't notice the Yeti was on backwards either, so I loaned him the Downmat 7, and then Warbonnet got up shortly after that and fixed the Yeti. Sevens said he was toasty warm after that.

Photo by Kaliram
This big fella started out the trip as LittleSevens, as Sevens calls him on HF. He later changed his name to Dragon.

There were three old Quinzee huts dug out in the front of the campground, and Dragon decided to explore them all. Apparently they weren't up to code b/c he installed back doors in each one. Here's a pic by freefall of Dragon showing off his handywork.

He explored everywhere he could around the campsite, and I never heard him complain about being cold. He was even warm when I showed up Friday night.

Photo by Kaliram
Sevens and Dragon setting up their gear near the fire pit.

Side view of Sevens' and Dragon's setup.

Sevens used an over-the-tarp ridgeline.
Sevens hung his and Dragon's hammocks under the same tarp, but off of separate trees.
Here is Sevens' setup on the left and Cannibal's setup on the right, seen from near the fire pit. KnittingMelissa's hammock is in the background behind Cannibal's.
Cannibal's (aka Tinkerbell) Setup
I think Cannibal outfitted half of the campers there, and still had two plastic tubs filled with more hammock gear. Here he is sitting by the fire.

Photo by Kaliram
Cannibal setting up his gear.

Cannibal's setup looking southeast.

And from the other side, looking north towards the fire pit.
Cannibal's Superfly with the door open.

Warbonnet Superfly corner

Superfly Pull-out

Photo by Kaliram
Cannibal showed us a thru-hiker trick he learned to focus his breath on the fire...you can add air to the fire without putting your face in the smoke. I made fun of him at first, but it works. Actually, I didn't stop making fun of him after i saw that it worked.

Photo by Kaliram
I guess Warbonnet didn't want to be left out of the fun so he got a little frisky behind Cannibal. What happens in the woods stays in the woods...unless there's a camera around. :p
KnittingMelissa's Setup

Photo by Kaliram
KnittingMelissa is also new to hammock camping, and she tested some of Cannibal's gear right before the campout. I'm glad she came down from Wyoming because she had some great stories...it was kind of a surreal mix of college stories about frat boys and old ladies in knitting clubs. Interestingly, she said that knitting forums are so much geekier than our HammockForums.net. Not sure if that made me feel good or if it's like comparing Star Wars geeks to Star Trek geeks. Whatever...she also said old ladies in knitting clubs are dirtier than college kids...that made me laugh!

She had all kinds of knitting trivia, and even sat around the fire knitting while we all talked.

Photo by Kaliram
KnittingMelissa setting up her gear.

Good shot of the Speer SnugFit she used.

And her setup from the side
She had a good site with her own picnic table, but she didn't use it. I stood on there to take some pictures, though.
Looking back towards the fire ring from KnittingMelissa's picnic table...there's Cannibal and Sevens on this side, then Kaliram and freefall on the far side.
Warbonnet's Setup

Photo by Kaliram
Brandon, owner of Warbonnet, scrambled a dozen eggs with cheese to make breakfast burritos over the fire on Saturday morning! They looked awesome and he offered to share, but I had already eaten so I didn't take any. A couple other folks did, though.

We had some great conversation, and he sat up pretty late Saturday night talking to freefall and DanaMac...they were the last three to go to bed.

(Photo by Kaliram) Here's Brandon setting up his tarp...

...and sitting by the fire again.
Warbonnet had a great idea to dig out the snow about two feet on one side of his tarp. He was hanging on a slope, but his dugout platform was level, and he could hang his tarp higher and still get good wind protection. Looks like he had a palace under there!

Warbonnet's setup, looking south

And looking north...check out the removable doors.
Close-up of Warbonnet's tie-outs over the snow wall.
Another view of Warbonnet's dug out. This one really shows how much extra height he got from digging out the snow.

Side view showing the shockcord for the removable doors.

Other side, showing the shockcord.

Ridgeline connection for the removable doors.

Detail of Warbonnet's doors
Just Jeff's Setup
I used the Blackbird with Winter Yeti on bottom, the JRB Mt Washington 4 as a top quilt with the JRB Hood, and the JRB 10'x11' Cat Tarp. I pitched the tarp with the 11' ridgeline so I could fold in the end panels...it's not true doors that way but it offered plenty of protection. There was actually no wind when I showed up on Friday so I wanted to sleep w/o a tarp, but no one was awake when I showed up (except Sevens who was going back to bed) so I went back to the Jeep to grade papers (hey, it's the only way I could come!) and the wind had kicked up a bit by the time I got back.

I slept in lots of clothes...thick socks, merino/poly pants and shirt, ThermaWrap pants, Columbia snowpants, REI swimtrunks, Nike Coolmax T-shirt, and REI Generator down jacket.

On Friday, I used the GossamerGear torso pad under my legs. It was just barely too small...I didn't feel like there was enough overlap between the Yeti and the pad and I had a cold spot across my thighs. For Saturday night, I used an REI 1.5" self-inflating torso pad, and I added the Yeti's reflective liner. I was warm enough that I didn't sleep in the snow pants that night and didn't have any cold spots. It was about 10F warmer on Saturday night, though. One issue I had was that I inflated the pad to the full 1.5", and that made my back hurt b/c the pad was under my butt. I deflated it quite a bit and it was much more comfortable, and still plenty warm.

This pic just shows how much room I had under the tarp...you can see my snowpants underneath me.

Looking north towards the fire pit.

From KnittingMelissa's picnic table.
I used Dutch Clips on the straps and Figure 9s on the tarp. This was my first trip with the Figure 9s but they sure made setting up the tarp much easier...I think I'm sold!
Me and DanaMac from KnittingMelissa's picnic table.
DanaMac's Setup
DanaMac was set up right next to me, and farthest from the fire pit. This is looking north, and that's my setup in the background.

He's using Cannibal's prototype of a Warbonnet tarp that has one-piece doors on both ends

View of the open side of the door.

And the side where the door is sewn on.

This picture and the one to the right are close-ups of where the hammock strap comes out of the door, from both sides. This looks like a pretty good setup, but Brandon says he likes the two-piece door setup better. Having a one-piece door limits the pitch angle for the tarp.

The other end...the road is off to the right.

Close-up of the GripClip.
And now for the fun part...

Photo by Kaliram
So on the way out for lunch on Sunday, I pulled off the side of the road to wait for everyone. The snow looked flat and solid, and there was a tire track just beside where I was driving...slowly...only I went just a bit too far. Slip. Slip. And I hit the gas to put it back on the pavement but it was too late...I slid right down into the ditch! I have 33" tires and the front one was completely covered by the snow! We could have dug it out, but with all of Cannibal's extra Amsteel Blue we just hooked it up to Kaliram's truck. Not quite heavy enough, so we hooked it up to DanaMac's Titan...that got me out. And good ole Cannibal got a video (6:17) of it. He put it on YouTube as a community service announcement to show that Amsteel really is strong enough to hang a hammock fromif it can pull a Jeep out of the snow.

And of course freefall and Sevens had to get their pictures as well...it's a good thing so many people had their cameras ready to help get me out!

Photo by freefall

Photo by Sevens
So once they pulled me out, we tried to go to a restaurant in Bailey but it was closed...we ended up going to Hog's Heaven, which purported to serve real southern-style home cookin'. I got the brisket dinner and I think they gave me half the cow; it was good, but the collard greens were pretty mediocre. Still, I'd recommend it b/c the BBQ was pretty good. Not everyone made it to the restaurant, though...we had Cannibal, Warbonnet, freefall, KnittingMelissa, food, Sevens, Dragon and me. Kaliram wanted to check out the pass before coming to the restaurant, so he didn't know where we were when we hit the second one. Kind of a bummer.

All in all, this was a great trip. The weather was perfect...no rain or snow, and it warmed up quite a bit during the days. I'm definitely looking forward to next year's Colorado Winter Hang!

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