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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Shelters - or, "Home is where you... happen to stop for the night!"

'Behold, the Trail Snail.... She may be slow, but she always gets to where she's going. Eventually.'

This pen drawing in my journal was inspired by a little snail down at the bottom of the canyon and above the Falls at Palouse last April during my preparatory hike and camp-out. Yes, I stopped right there and drew her, and those words entered my head as I did so, for she is surely me.

Perhaps one of the reasons she's slow is she's carrying her house on her back.  That will be me too, come July and August.  I'll be far away from home, but 'home' in its basic sense will be with me, and wherever I happen to stop for the night - no matter how wild or isolated that stop might be.

The two-night camp at Palouse Falls in April let me know precisely the current state of my gear.  Some needed replacing immediately. My old worn out tent let me know that pertinent bit of information as I set it up. The carbon pole split when I bent it into position, and I felt a seam on the fly begin to give when I pulled it taut.  The shattered pole could be made to endure that one last camp though - wrapping it tightly cord convinced it to stay put for those two nights.  This particular tent is only guaranteed three years, and here were were, going into year 8.  I think I got my money's worth out of it!

Indeed, the little tent has been so good to me, I opted to replace it with another of the same make and model - a Saguaro backpackers tent by Texsport.  When the new one arrived, I took note of the changes they made since I bought the other 8 years ago; the most noticeable and significant was the reflective silver on the fly.  When I realized this silver was on the outside and not the underside, I thought surely this was a manufacturing blunder - why on earth would you want to keep heat out??  Should this not be to keep heat IN?  It turns out that it was intended this way, which is not a thought that would cross the mind of a typical camper of my latitude.  I pitched it in the back yard and slept in it during rain and calm. It definitely keeps solar heat down to a minimum, and it also seems to stay warm and
any wonder why I'm calling it the Silver Slug?
cozy at night.  I suppose silver really isn't any more obnoxious than bright red or yellow in the grand scheme of things, and if I manage to get myself lost in the west highlands, that silver might make me locatable with a few aerial passes by Search and Rescue!  I am kidding, of course. I've since nicknamed it the Silver Slug.  It's heavier than its predecessor, weighing in at four pounds.  It's bigger though, and could comfortably contain two people.  It has reinforced stitching at stress points, where the predecessor had none.  Another nice feature is the addition of velcro tabs to further secure the fly to the poles.  Having camped before in the high winds of Glen Shiel in the west of Scotland, I know that will be a welcome thing.

Now Scotland, particularly the west, is notorious for wet weather at any given time of year - much like our mossy Pacific Northwest.  With that in mind, a rain fly for cooking and dining is vital.  I went without on my last trip there, and regretted it on more than one occasion.  Amazon sold me a very nice 8'x12' tarp of good quality and of a minuscule 4 ounces in weight.  After a few embarrassing and futile attempts at setup with cord and trekking poles in the safety of my yard, I turned to Youtube for advice.  There were many videos with fancy flies and fussy configurations, but thankfully I found one fellow in the UK who subscribes to the 'Keep It Simple' philosophy.  I include here a couple of views of the configuration I'm settling with (for now), with the 90-pound retriever clearly under the impression that this is his new house.  I'll also include at the bottom of this post the video I found that has allowed me to set up a rain fly with a bit of confidence, two trekking poles, and no trees.
As a friend rightly stated, "It's a pup tent!"

This should keep the rain off my back and my cooking.
And hopefully the wind too.


Bobaloo2u2 said...

I am so excited to travel along with your blog. It will be a special treat to hear of your adventures and discoveries! My kinda travel!

Julie Thompson said...

Cheers, Bobaloo2u2 - I shall do my best to keep folks in the loop. :)