Over the past few months, I have been acquiring some new gear. I've been quite anxious to get out into the woods to try it all out. Most of all, I've been wanting to try out my hammock setup. I finally got a chance to get out for a quick, solo overnight. I decided to head on down to one of my favorite spots: Red River Gorge. Based off a suggestion from the guy that runs the HikingRRG Instagram account (And, of course, the HikingRRG Guide Service), I headed on down to the Swift Camp Creek, located in the Clifty Wilderness.
Not Quite as Planned
As I mentioned, I had a recommendation on a great place to camp. The best part was that it would be a short hike in, maximizing the relaxation of the trip. There was just one problem. Upon arriving I found the spot was occupied. Further more, every spot I came to was occupied.
I finally managed to find a spot (and it was a great spot!), but I had ended up on the clear other side of the Swift Camp Creek Trail! Oh well, I guess that's what happens when you don't arrive until 4 in the evening on a Friday with exceptional weather :)
The site I came across was absolutely perfect. It was a large area with a nice fire ring and was located right alongside the creek. It also had a set of trees that would work well with my hammock. I setup camp and gathered some firewood.
Dinner consisted of some red bell peppers roasted on a campfire. I put those into some Knors butter pasta. I've got to say, it was rather tasty, but cleaning the pot later was a bit of a pain since I had put a fair bit of Italian cheese in the pasta! It's probably best to just stick with the dehydrated meals in the future. Oh, and I had an Ale 8, which I cooled by placing in the rushing water of the creek!
The Hammock Experience
So the main point of this trip was to test out my hammock setup. This was actually the second time I've tried hammock camping. The first time I was so uncomfortable that I actually night hiked the 5 miles back to the car and just drove home. I found out afterwards that I had made some pretty major (and amateur) mistakes with setting up the hammock on that trip, so I wanted to give it another go. This time around things went a lot more smoothly, but it could definitely still use some refinement.
My setup is a Hennessy Hyperlite Asym. Shortly after getting the hammock I added some cinch buckles and snake skins. Both of these upgrades has made setting up and adjusting the hammock a lot easier and I highly recommend them!
Since I don't have top quilts or under quilts for my hammock I had to use my tent camping supplies. I used my Thermarest sleeping pad and North Face sleeping bag. I also had an Exped pillow. This setup worked reasonably well enough, but it did pose some comfort issues (more on that in a moment).
Overall, I'd say that I like the hammock setup decently well, but it's certainly not perfect. After a few hours I did find that I was quite uncomfortable. I think part of this has to do with a sub-optimal hang, but I think the much larger problem is the sleeping pad. Throughout the night the pad would move to an awkward spot and would get rather uncomfortable. To make matters worse, it was bit of an acrobatics act to get it back into position. I think if I do away with the sleeping pad and get an under quilt instead things would be a lot more comfortable.
My final conclusion on the hammock is that it's okay, but certainly needs some tweaking. I am confident, however, that with some more refinement I can get it to a point that I could really enjoy it. I'm definitely going to play around with the hammock setup more as time goes on!
That brings us to the end of this little trip report. It really was mostly about testing out that hammock setup. Before I go, however, I'd like to ask if anyone has any hammocking tips for newbies like myself? If so please do leave them down in the comments below!