Hiking and fishing...tent or no tent???

Discussion in 'Camping, Hiking, Cooking' started by Mike Ediger, Jan 10, 2009.

  1. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    Interesting thread. I've never been concerned about a cougar in my sleeping space, and no bears have gotten too close - - yet. Most of my hiking is in western WA, so a tent is practical insurance because of rain and bugs. I've used a light tarp a couple times, and probably need more practice because the very light drizzle wafted by a light breeze managed to land on my sleeping bag. I've only used the ground cloth and bedroll approach on the dry side, in the Pasayten and in Yellowstone, and it worked great there. My critter concern is not cougars and bears, but skunks, maybe snakes, chimpmonks, mice, and other gear chewers.

    I carry a 50' cord to hang my food from a high tree, but what do you veteran hikers do when the highest hang point is less high that what you can reach, standing maybe on a rock or something? Twice I've camped in alpine meadows where bears were sighted, and there wasn't a tree taller than me. And on Alaska float trips, the streambank willows are all less than 15 or 20' tall. We just put the covered grocery tote 50 yd. down the beach from our tents (aka bug havens) and hoped for the best. Fortunately the food was always still there the next morning.

    Most of the places I hike are inhabited by murderous numbers of bugs. Even with maximum DEET and permithrin, I think I'd go nuts at night sans tent.

    I've only recently learned about hammocks for backpacking. The notion appears interesting, but I have to roll from my back to my side during the night. I'm not certain that I could obtain a restful sleep.

    Sg
     
  2. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

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    Sg,

    When the limbs are too high I use something to tie the cord to and launch it up high. A nalgene bottle works well because of the lid teather. When the trees are too short to matter up high a hard canister is the trick. Put it far away from you and water sources and it should be fine. I've never had bears locate mine but the racoons will bash it around, get frustrated and then leave it alone. Some places require "bear canisters" now. You can teather them to a tree to keep them from getting knocked too far away.

    I'm surprised that there have not been any cliff hangers posting about sleeping in their harnesses or something crazy. I knew two guys that liked to do that sort of stuff...not me!
     
  3. Freestone

    Freestone Not to be confused with freestoneangler

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    Salmo, I have a variety of backpacking hammocks. My 2 Hennessy Hammocks are my favorites (2lb 12oz & 1lb 15oz). I too sleep on my side and because the Hennesy's are cut asymmetrically, it is no problem. In traditional hammocks one may be folded into a V-shape but in the Hennesy's, one can lie almost flat and/or lay on their side. I'll admit, sleeping in a hammock took some getting used to but it is great for ultra-light, low impact trips. I've used mine in some real buggy places, like Beaver Creek on Ross Lake, and it was great. There were swarms of mosquitoes, maybe the worst I've ever encountered, but permethrin spray on the netting works wonders.

    However, there are now tents on the market that weigh less than my hammocks. These tents are highly specialized for the ultralight backpack crowd and there are trade-offs. My lightest tent is heavy by ultralight standards, 3 lbs 3oz for a 2-man tent , but I'm lusting after a 1 man tent that weighs 16.2oz! Heck, my bivy bags are heavier than this. I have numerous tents, tarps, bivys, and hammocks and take which ever best suits a particular trip. However if I could only have one, I would have to go with a lightweight 2-man tent for overall versatility.

    Here are some links to some really light tents/shelters:
    http://www.gossamergear.com/
    http://www.sixmoondesigns.com/
    http://www.bigskyinternational.com/

    For an alternative to bulky, heavy bear canisters, consider an Ursack with odor-proof Aloksak O.P. Saks inside. http://www.ursack.com/ursack-catalog.htm. The Ursack can be tied to a tree, rock or anything too heavy for the bear to haul away but with the odor-proof bags inside and careful food handling, the bear may not even find it. Obviously it should be placed well away from camp.
     
  4. jcnewbie

    jcnewbie Member

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    Oh dang! You've found me out......:eek:

    Jc:D
     
  5. jcnewbie

    jcnewbie Member

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    Freestone,

    I have tried & tried numerous hammocks in my extensive hiking, backpacking & hunting/fishing career but have never heard of the "Hennessy's" you refer to. Asymmetrical design you say? Interesting idea....where could I research this product? No help with Google....Irish whiskey, English pubs, bars, restaurants etc.!

    Incidentally, have you ever noticed that you have to get up at least once, maybe more, in the middle of the night to tighten the lines on your hammock or search out a sturdier anchor tree to keep your butt off the ground?

    I've found it much more difficult to find two adequate anchor points for a hammock than a flat (enough) spot for a tent.

    I guess this all boils down to what works for you, and you, and you! I know what works for me.....after much trial & error. Good luck!

    Jc
     
  6. Gatorator

    Gatorator Member

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    Just out of curiosity I wonder how many people here have actually had a negative encounter with a Bear or Cougar? I don't need to know if you saw one but has anyone suffered damage from a Bear while present? Had a mock charge or real one?

    Ever had a Bear go after your food or camp? Were you there?

    Just curious if maybe some of this stuff isn't taken to literally.

    I have had 3 BB take fish off my line in the the Queen Charlottes. Minimum distance about 15 feet. I have had one BB in the QC set up right behind me, about 6 feet and Wuff when I hooked a Silver. (no i didn't know it was there until I did a 6 foot high 180 :eek:)

    I have had to leave Salmon streams in BC and Alaska because of Brownies and Grizzlies, but not because of their actions but my sense of fear.

    Twice I Have had to shoot Grizzlies that charged me or my horse with evil intent. No apologies for that.
     
  7. Freestone

    Freestone Not to be confused with freestoneangler

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    Jc, I have had to get up and tighten other hammocks, but I've not had to tighten my Hennesy Hammocks in the middle of the night. On multi-night trips I might need to tighten them every couple of nights but I've never had the sagging problem with them. http://hennessyhammock.com/

    It takes a while to figure how to get any tent, tarp, hammock set-up tautly, find the correct space (ground/tree), adjust it for the weather, etc. but you're right, it's really just a matter of preference and experience level with a particular shelter. I'm a bit of a gear head so I have and use a variety of shelters. The downside is some only get used a few times/year so there is some set-up inefficiency as I re-familiarize myself with each ones idiosyncrasies but unless it's nasty weather, that's part of the fun for me.
     
  8. Ray

    Ray Active Member

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    www.hennessyhammock.com/
    As for line tightening, I've never had to worry about it.
     
  9. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

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    Yep. Ten years ago last September at Shelter Creek Alaska, a tent camp on a small estuary roughly due west of Homer across Cook Inlet and below Lake Iliamna. Three partners and I rented the tent camp for a week from an outfitter who provided everything except food. One welcome feature was a large nylon rope cargo net that could be hoisted 20 feet up from a plank lashed between two conifers.

    We went fishing up the creek our first full day there and returned at lunch to find that a runt male yearling grizzly had shinnied up one of the trees and hooked the net with a claw and proceeded to chew a volleyball sized hole in one of our three coolers - the one with all our steaks, chops, sausage and chicken.

    [​IMG]

    My elk hunter cousin-in-law was so pissed he fired a warning shot at the bear who was standing about 75 feet away. That scared him off - temporarily.

    One night we awoke to hear him thrashing around in our camp. Three of us in our boxers confronted him: one holding a flashlight, the other our .45-70 and the third pounding on a frying pan with a hatchet as we watched him no more than 20 feet away trying to climb up the tree and mug our net again for another meal. In the morning we found evidence of his foraging in a roll of paper towels with a huge bite mark.

    [​IMG]

    There were plenty of other bears around, but that one runt hassled us every day and night. He eventually gave up on trying to snag the other coolers and took to shadowing us as we fished, snorting and false charging when we played fish and rushing us as we cleaned them to eat - for breakfast, for lunch, and for dinner, five days in a row. I don't mind admitting that he nearly scared the shit out of me on more than one occasion when he'd show up unexpectedly and act all aggressive-like. We all gave him plenty of room.

    That's him in the shot below on the far bank across the creek early one morning.

    [​IMG]

    Fortunately, he was mostly show and little go and would hesitate when we'd whistle and shout at him or bang some rocks together. Once the initial fear and the novelty wore off, he became a daily feature in an otherwise incredible adventure.

    [​IMG]

    And how was the fishing you ask? Pretty good if I remember right. We were too preoccupied most of the time.

    K
     
  10. martyg

    martyg Active Member

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    I've seen many, many bears in the field. I have seen and heard many, many bears on the KP. One false charge in Ontario. One bear came into my camp at night, sniffed around my tent. He (or she) very delicately put its paw up to the nylon, as if to see if he material would make a nice, lightweight rain jacket, and poked a few claws through it. I calmly said, "Now go home Mr. Bear" and the bear left.

    When I was guiding in Canada many decades ago I also took 45mg of benadryl every night for allergies. With 45mg of benadryl a bear could carry you off and you would only be mildly aware of it.
     
  11. Richard Olmstead

    Richard Olmstead BigDog

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    I'm sure I'm not the only one on the board who has spent (nearly) sleepless nights hanging in harnesses or butt bags on the side of a cliff a thousand feet off the ground, but the experience really doesn't provide much to offer in a discussion of lightweight shelters while fishing in the mountains. I don't know anyone who has been through it who would recommend it!
    D
     
  12. Mike Ediger

    Mike Ediger Active Member

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    Give me Yogi and Snagglepuss anyday, sleeping on the side of a cliff 1000 feet up I just don't get.
     
  13. mr. bad example

    mr. bad example Member

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    regarding the issue of hanging your food when the trees are nonexistent or just tiny from the altitude you can go to r.e.i. and buy a "bear vault" it's just as it sounds, a super tough plastic container that is impossible for a bear to open and it does a great job of masking the odor of food. I've used one the last two years and though they are a little heavy it is worth it's weight in gold, no more walking around in the dark on the side of a mountain looking for a place to hang your stuff sack and worrying about it all night.
     
  14. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    Freestone,

    Thanks for the links; I'll check them out, altho it's not like I need any more gear. The Ursack is interesting, but it looks like it's not approved in restricted bear country. Looks like it's half the weight (with the aluminum liner) of the anti-bear containers the NPS is requiring in some areas. I think the odor-masking bags might have the real merit for keeping food safe.

    Gator,

    I've had bears around, but thankfully they've been well behaved or just run away. I carry pepper spray and hope I never need it. Last year a big blackie on the Skeena nearly turned itself inside out running off when I surprised him and yelled at him. It's decidedly unpleasant, but part of wilderness adventure includes the remote possibility of becoming bear scat.

    I've seen a cougar just once, but had the erie feeling something unseen was around a couple times when hiking alone. I speculate that if one actually wants me I won't know what happened.

    Sg
     
  15. jcnewbie

    jcnewbie Member

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    Generalized response to thread content?

    This is really difficult for me to comprehend: Why would you cut the handle off of your toothbrush, spend 200-300 bucks for Titanium cookware, buy a $300.00 16.1 ounce tent/tarp/shelter or hammock to shave ounces of "pack weight" and then spend $65.00 on a 7# pound "Bear Vault?" (I don't know the actaul price anymore)

    If car camping, horse packing, quad-running or something where weight is not an issue it makes a bit more sense -- but on a backpacking fishing trip? I think not.....! Personally, I would rather pack a 2 1/2 pound .45 or a .44 magnum (or even a 12 gauge if I'm really expecting trouble!) than a heavy, bulky "Bear Vault that has only one purpose!"

    To me these sorts of choices are obvious - to others, obviously not - so as usual, we each have to evaluate our own needs and make choices accordingly.

    Jc:)