A Soggy S24O

5 07 2012

Sometimes, I just have to be outside. And with summer underway, I want to savour every moment, including the warm summer rain. On this evening, all I wanted was to sleep in the forest away from other humanity and let the gentle percussion of rain drops on the fly of my hammock lull me to sleep. So with little daylight left, and a brief break in the rain, I headed out to a little place I know that’s off the map but not too far from home.

In the home of the deer & coyotes.

Part of the reason I wanted to go was that I wanted to test out my gear in the rain before heading out on a longer trip, and I knew that the destination I selected would allow me to head home without too much trouble if anything failed.

My wet camp in the misty woods.

Getting there wasn’t as simple as I thought. There once was a gravel road leading into the area, but all the gravel has been removed and only the clay road base remains. I suppose this was to aid in the “naturalization” process and keep domesticated animals (specifically humans & dogs) from bothering the local wildlife, and it wouldn’t have been a problem if it hadn’t already turned into a soupy, slippery mess from the day’s rains. As I powered through the mud on my fully loaded bike, the clay just stuck to it, enveloping my brakes, clogging my fenders, plastering the backsides of my panniers.

This is what my bike looked like after riding through a quarter section of hay fields and another section of game trails in the bush, which was my strategy for trying to knock the muck off.

I ended up having to drag my bike through some of the mud, and had to grab sticks to poke out the mud & rocks that were preventing my wheels from moving. After finally passing the horrible used-to-be-road, it started to rain again, and I realized that I’d passed the point of no return. I managed to set up camp and retreat to my hammock with, literally, seconds to spare before the sky completely opened up. Dry and cozy, I curled up and listened to the rain and thunder and the runoff rushing underneath while gently swaying with the trees. And between showers, I could hear the coyotes howling and slinking through the forest.

While my stay was refreshing, it wasn’t exactly restful, and I was up (for me) freakishly early. Eager for a hot drink and to try out my new toy, I broke out the Trangia to make some tea.

A Trangia is a super lightweight alcohol fueled camp stove. It took a few minutes to boil 2 cups of water.

The rain stopped just long enough for me to have some breakfast & break camp, and I was re-energized by the hot drink & fuel. After trying to poke what mud I could out of my wheels, I started the return journey. Unfortunately, the only way in or out of this place with a loaded bike is the non-road that I took on the way in. Because it had been raining all night, it was even more of a mess.

I would ride until my wheels wouldn’t turn (about 10-50 feet) and then poke out as much clay as I could with a stick and try again. I’d get off the bike and drag it, all the time barely keeping my own footing in the greasy mud. By the time I made it through that half mile of hell, I was exhausted and felt like I didn’t save any energy by not going much further afield.

Nearing home. To quote a friend, “at least my skin is waterproof.”

My upper body was sore for days after, but the worst casualty of the day was my bike. A couple of days later, when I took the Globe to EBC to chisel off the caked on mud remains, it took me 5 hours to clean it, and when I swept up the pile of dried mud under the bike stand it weighed more than 3 pounds. Come to think about it, I still haven’t cleaned the mud off of the backs of my front panniers – better get on that before the next trip.

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4 responses

5 07 2012
BB

I have had the Trangia set that has the windshield and a nestle of 2 pots for years. Still the lightweight aluminium and the smaller size. I swear by it. No silly little jets to get clogged, no field maintenance required, you can simmer with the flame guard half closed and the meths is available everywhere and cheap as chips. The only teeniest grumble is that it’s like me and needs a push in cold weather, but, I’ve found nestling the filled, closed fuel pot in my sleeping bag with me for a few minutes fixes that.

I’ve been wanting to give a hammock a go for a few years now. I’m so tempted by your description of being dry and cosy. My concern has always been, finding myself cold and wet.

5 07 2012
evillerider

I’ve often wondered why Trangias aren’t more popular. The first time I saw one, I knew I’d never consider another sort of camp stove. I just got the mini version, but I think it should be adequate for my needs.

I’ve had my hammock for several years now, and I love it. The only drawback is that it only sleeps one. I’ve stayed much dryer through thunderstorms than friends in tents, but it can be colder than a tent if you aren’t careful because any insulation underneath you is compressed and air can flow through it unimpeded. I have one of those silver car windshield shade things that I sleep on to reflect heat back at me and it’s quite effective, and I think a mummy sleeping bag would also work really well in it. I carry a travel pillow more for the insulation value than the cushion factor, especially with my conventional sleeping bag. Of my friends who have tried the hammock, the only one who wouldn’t use it again was the sort of person who always feels cold.

It’s kind of like having your own cocoon, but if the weather’s warm you can hike the fly right up and sleep under the stars, in the open, with mosquito protection.

6 07 2012
adventurepdx

Yeah S24O!
Just got back from one with a few friends, report on blog will come soon.

Love that mini Trangia, I have one as well. Like you, I don’t know why they are not more popular in North America.

10 07 2012
l

Thank you for your interesting (and insightful ) posts.
Regards.
l

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