Posts Tagged With: travel

Stories for my Kids – Hitchhiking with a Gun-Totin’ Cajun

From the ‘Check it Out – Momma Has Always Been Batshit Crazy’ chronicles, this new series is born of a desire to put a face on Who I Was Before I Was A Mom for my kids so that some day, when I’m an old crazy person with a bad reputation of being The Troublemaker at the Home for Cool Old Folks, my kids will be forced to remember that I wasn’t always old and gumming stewed yams.

In 1997 I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail.  Most of you know this for, as long ago as it was, it was one of those deeply affecting sort of things that to this day I still can’t help but blather on about.  Too many amazing things happened on that trip to not want to share them once in a while.  This is one of those stories:

A little backstory – the AT is a 2180 or so mile-long trail that goes from Springer Mountain, GA to Mount Katahdin, ME, or vice-versa if you happen to be going south-bound.  At 25 I found myself on this trail hauling a 35 pound pack 15-30 miles a day.  It is a grueling trek, not in the ‘escaping a gulag and hiking 4000 miles across barren tundra with no gear and no food’ sort of way but in a deliberate, acutely, frivolously American sort of way.  It’s physically and mentally challenging, facing day after day of hard hiking in all kinds of weather, whether you want to or not.  Because failure is not an option.  It’s like going to work with a lot more calorie burning.

As you plod along you hit roads, many of which hold the promise of taking you into happy little towns that abound with Places that Sell Food.  You can only carry so much, you see, so regular trips into these towns is a necessity.  You get into these towns, down these interrupting roads, by sticking your thumb out and hoping for the best.

Now, as a woman hiking the trail alone you’d think that I would have had more opportunities to take my solo female chances at road crossings, and yet when I came to the road that would deliver me into Waynesboro, Virginia, it was one of the few times I found myself alone in the venture.  It is a very social trail and you often find yourself in good company at such an intersection.  Alas, I hit the road without  my crew, stuck my thumb out and waited.

The first vehicle that came by pulled over.  I watched dubiously as the world’s oldest running pick-up lurched to the side of the road and rolled to a stop.  I walked up to it like a kid turning the knob on a jack-in-the-box and took off my pack to throw in the back.  As I did so I went to climb in after it when this crazy little toothless cajun guy got out of the passenger side and screeched ‘NO GIT IN THE FRONT!’  I blinked at him and said ‘oh no thank you sir, I’m happy to ride in the back’  you know, so that killing me is that much more of a logistical problem.  He said adamantly ‘GIT.IN.THE.FRONT’.  It was just one of those moments where you have to roll the dice, make a command decision and hope you don’t end up dead.

I got in the front.

He stood by the door so that I could get in.  Yup, not only was I to Get In the Front, I was to Sit In The Middle.  Driving the truck was what appeared to be a 100 year old woman who glanced at me not unkindly though silently.  As she eased the ancient rig into drive her little cajun companion started hollerin’ immediately ‘PUMP THE BRAKES, PUMP THE BRAKES!’  The road into Waynesboro, you see, is down a steep hill from the pass at which I had emerged from the trail.

Realizing that the most likely cause of death on this ride would probably be mechanical instead of human-inflicted, I did my best imitation of Relaxing and Enjoying the Ride.  As we rolled along, in between yelling PUMP THE BRAKES, my cajun companion reached down underneath our seat and came up with, you guessed it:  a gun.  Tired and resigned, I looked at him and asked ‘are you going to SHOOT me?’  He laughed hard, flashed his big toothless smile at me and said ‘NAW, the LAW likes me to keep this where they can SEE it.’  He set it on the dashboard where it jiggled precariously every time the brakes were pumped.

I watched in wonder as my little buddy then went under the seat – I just couldn’t WAIT to see what came up next – and brought up a dirty plastic cup which he handed to me.  Yummy.  One more trip under the seat and out came an ice cold 40-ozer.  He unscrewed the cap, filled up my cup and hollered ‘DRINK UP!  YOU LOOK THIRSTY!’  Did it matter that it was 10:30am or that the cup was of Unknown History?  You bet your ass it didn’t.  I chugged that beer because goddamit I WAS thirsty and I was trapped between an ancient driver and a gun-totin’ Cajun in a truck with no brakes going down the longest hill in America.  Holy crap.

Sooner or later the road stopped careening downward and we rolled into town.  They asked where I needed to go and I told them ‘anywhere in town is fine.’  He said ‘NO. Where do you NEED TO GO?’ I reluctantly told him as I knew it was out of the way.  The delivered me right to the doorstep and adamantly refused any money for their trouble.  He shook my hand and I his and he said ‘now you be SAFE, understand?’  I promised I would do my best (seeing as though the world is kind of a crap shoot) and I watched them lurch back down the road.  Before I stopped watching, their truck turned off the road and into a parking lot where I saw that a woman had the  hood of her car up and her hand on her hip looking lost.  The cajun and his ancient lady-friend pulled right up, hopped out and started looking at the woman’s engine.  I knew that she was in good hands.

The trail revealed to me on so many different occasions that People Are Good.  It pushed my trust-o-meter a little bit further into the green and filled my heart with bottomless gratitude for the kindnesses I received.  Was I very lucky that things turned out the way that they did?  Of course.  But that luck was delivered at the hands of human beings who were just out to be selfless and kind.

Categories: Check it Out - Momma Has Always Been Batshit Crazy, Hiking | Tags: , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Don’t Hate Her Because She’s Beautiful – Ouray County, CO Part 2

As mentioned previously we’ve celebrated moving to Ridgway, CO by heading for the hills surrounding her during every obligation-free moment.  We don’t know what people do for fun around here if they’re not into Being Outside.  Seriously, it’s not as though there are shopping malls and Jay-Z concerts to run off to.   Happily we prefer the mountain scene and making our children Be Outside and holy crap, this new neighborhood is a kick in the pants when it comes to hiking.

We have very quickly started to redefine our sliding scale of trail difficulty, both in terms of sketchy exposure and the sheer vertical-gain-to-distance-covered graph.  In conversation we rate them ‘we would take the kids on this one, we would take visitors on this one, we would do neither for this one.’  Every weekend we go up trails that, on descent, I marvel that we’ve come up because we’re basically skidding and sliding unhindered down 2-3000′ vertical feet.  This is especially obvious with a four year old who spends a lot of that time on her butt.

yucky views from the Hayden trailhead

Next hike on the docket was Hayden’s North Ridge

The Hayden Trail – kinda sorta the route we took anyway as the trail doesn’t hit the ridgeline

Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden was a badass who back in the late 1800s tromped around the western US and did a thorough geologic survey which resulted in beautiful and detailed topo maps.  As a geographer and total map geek Hayden is one of those people I’d like to have met.  Anyway, ole Ferdi’s name is sprinkled around the west from Hayden Valley in Yellowstone to the town of Hayden, CO to Hayden Mountain right here in our back yard.

the last moments of Flatness

We had the kids on this one and I’m still feeling proud about  the climb that they did that day.  From the 9600′ trailhead in Ironton you have about 300′ of flat ground and after that you just hope that you’ve used your calf muscles for something other than walking to the fridge over the past few months.  It’s a ball-buster, straight up 3000′ to the northern summit of Hayden’s ridge.

One.Serious.Bad.Ass. I cannot imagine what this kid will be conquering once her legs are longer than 14″.

What do other 9 year olds do on Sundays?

I’m going to have to put rocks in her pack sooner than later.

Taking a moment to soak in the day and look over at our next conquest: Red Mountain #1

Man on Summit. We didn’t make the kids go up the last pitch so we tagged in and out for a summit run.

Maisy starts having fun on the way down. Better late than never, kiddo.

Late afternoon hike down, just in time to hit the hot springs on the way home

Etc.  You get the picture.  Hayden is, to put it mildly, a good work-out, yet without any of the exposure we have encountered in some of the other new hikes we’ve done.  And mid-September is pretty much an awesome time to do it.  I know I should be including trail maps or real honest trail information here or really anything to make this blog more useful but I just don’t have time.  I have crappy reality TV to go watch.  Or 50 Shades to finish.  You know, important stuff.  It’s all about balance, people.  oh NEVER MIND, I guilted myself into adding crappy maps at least.

People encountered on this hike: 1

Next: Red Mountain Number 1 via Grey Copper

Mellow and lovely Grey Copper Trail just across the street from the Hayden Trailhead

Sitting somewhere between Brown Mountain and Blue Lakes are Red Mountains #1,2 and 3.  The dudes naming these things Back In the Day had way more important things to worry about than assigning cute and creative nomenclature. ‘Hey Billy – what should we name THAT one over thar?’ ‘Hm, let me think on that for a minute.  How about Blooming Lotus Flower, Hank? You got that marmot skinned yet?’   Yeahhh…they were busy eating moldy bacon and wormy flour for breakfast, lunch and dinner, dynamiting silver out of the sheer mountain cliff faces and carving the Scariest Shit Ever Roads through the Rocky Mountains.  And besides, the mountains are indeed Brown and Red and those lakes truly are the Bluest ever.

I would have gone with Orangeish-Red Mountain

For our second celebratory child-free Friday Todd and I headed back up to Ironton to the Grey Copper trail.  Starting at 9800′ it follows a two-track for a while and then starts winding through the aspens on a nice trail.  You get glimpses of Red Mountain through the trees until you finally pop out onto the open rock slides and get bombarded by it’s technicolor beauty.  The three Red Mountains are iconic in this part of Colorado and we’ve always wanted to get on top of them.  Today was the day.

Even the signs are at a 70% tilt

Red Mountain #1 summit far left

The Grey Copper trail is one of the mellower hikes that we’ve done, not that there isn’t a bunch of elevation gain, but at least it’s only 2700′ of gain from trailhead to summit and at least someone had the decency to not make that gain happen in a mile.  No, that’s the Richmond Trail which will appear in a future post.  You wander past the Vernon Mine and up onto the end of a spur of the Corkscrew Road.  This brings up up to a pass of sorts where you can take a left if you’d like to climb up Brown Mountain or right if you prefer Red.

the Vernon Mine

Off the road there are pretty little ponds which you glance at briefly before stealing yourself for the last push up the mountain while gaping at the cheaters people who just drove their jeeps up to where you’ve been hiking 2 hours to get to.  Who is smarter?  You’d have to take a good look at Corkscrew before answering that one.

I felt like I was getting my ass handed to me getting up on the ridge from the puddles but once on the ridge line it’s a great walk, albeit a bit like being on mars.  We had a perfect day out there.  Highly recommend this one.

Red Mountain Ridgeline

Todd on the summit

the pretty hike out

People encountered on this hike: 0 hikers, 2 Jeeping folk.

Categories: Hiking, Hiking with Kids | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Go. See. Chefchaouen, Morocco

How we ended up hitting Chefchaouen with The Dart, I have no idea.  I must have seen a picture of the surreal blue medina and said, well hell, we’re going to be just across the strait in Spain, why not go rock the Casba while we’re in the neighborhood?  Just as with Cambodia, the little side trips are totally irresistible to me.

I wasn’t expecting burkas but neither was I expecting a very professional set of women in Port Authority gear meeting the huge ferry as it docked at Tanger Med.  This is why it’s good to Go – the idiotic myths are quickly laid to waste.  I’ll leave it to you to read more about Morocco on wikipedia…I’m here to excite the part of your brain that feeds on pretty pictures of exotic lands.

the mystical blue of Chaouen’s medina

Our favorite part of this side trip was when the taxi driver that brought us from Tanger Med to Chaouen found us walking through town and told us in broken english to Get In.  We looked at each other, shugged and Got In.  He silently drove us through the winding streets for about 10 minutes and then said ‘Souk!’  With a smile and a handshake and a firm refusal of any money he delivered us to a spectacular local market where we were the only non-Moroccans.  The smells of freshly ground spices in massive canvas sacks, cooking meats, olive brine…the venders hawking their goods in loud and good-natured Arabic…the brilliant colors of Moroccan fabrics and rugs and fresh vegetables and fruits all around us – it was a very vibrant moment that I return to quite often in my mind when I need to Escape.

olives at the souk

holy crap – that is a LOT of eggs

We rocked the Casba, wandered the serpentine footpaths through the old medina, wished like all get-out that the jalaba was the official outerwear of SW Colorado and bought a rug.  Chaouen is a treat for the senses, friendly, vibrant and leaving us wanting way more time in Morocco.

what neighborhood couldn’t use a little Moroccan artistry?

the colorful rug markets

the jalaba is the offical rad outfit of Chefchaouen. who WOULDN’T want to rock one of these?

the Casba

the Rif mountains and Chefchouen medina

Categories: Go.See. - International Travel Pictures, Photos To Share | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Go.See. – Cambodia

While we are mired in house-hunting and other distressingly unfun non-backpacking adventures, I’ll try to assuage my itchy feet by sharing pictures of places we have been that we highly recommend as places to Go See.  Life is short – go see the world whenever the possibility presents itself.

First up in this series is Cambodia.  While planning a trip to Thailand in 2010 a National Geographic showed up on our doorstep with Angkor on the front cover.  We were hooked and ultimately booked our tickets to include a few bonus days in Cambodia.  It was an awesome spur-of-the-moment decision.

Cambodia has had a truly shitty couple of centuries.  When other countries weren’t trying to take them down, their own leaders were.  Now in a period of relative stability, tourism, in all of its double-edged swordedness, is helping to bring it back to life.

wine and cheese at the world’s largest religious site – Angkor Wat, Cambodia

There is an endearing quality about Cambodia – you find yourself wanting to protect her.  The temples of Angkor, Bayon, Banteay Srai and Ta Prohm should be on everyone’s bucket list.  When London had 12,000 people living in it back in the 12th century, Angkor had 1,000,000.  Fascinating.  We have pages of write-up about that trip on travelblog but this is the 21st-century attention span version.

Ta Prohm

The temples that are left behind from that time period are as lovely and fascinating as the people of today’s Cambodia.  It’s a friendly country on the rebound from years of abuse and one I would return to in a heartbeat.  The gritty resourcefulness of developing world countries is something that everyone should witness; there are images and lessons that stay with you forever, some of them hard to see, some of them joyful reminders that the human spirit cannot be crushed.  Get to Cambodia if you get the chance, especially if you find yourself in Thailand anyway.  There is a direct flight out of Bangkok to Siem Reap that gives you little excuse to not make it happen.

it’s hard not to love charismatic Bayon

12th century Ta Prohm

making palm sugar

Categories: Go.See. - International Travel Pictures | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Xanax, 2 Eviscerated Mice and A Picnic at 12,000′

Our house went on the market this week and with that came the reality of the maddening effort it will take to leave the house every day looking like no one actually lives in it.  And hey, a 3 and an 8 year old can fully absorb the situation and will pitch in in an effort to keep me from going insane, right?  Someone please just shoot me now.

It was a week where our kittens had a coming of age ceremony whereby we were each presented with our own maimed but very much alive field mouse, a week of juggling two kids casting about in the black hole between when school ends and summer programs begin, a week where I planted 20 of what are likely going to be someone else’s tomatoes and a week that was so stressful that a friend took one look at me and very seriously offered up her Xanax.  Stress and I are unfamiliar bedfellows; I wear it poorly.

However, with this totally crap week in the rear-view mirror and a perfect Colorado day on tap (although we’re starting to redefine perfect around here with the need for rain becoming quite pronounced), oh, and having to be out of my house between 9:30 and 11am so that it could be shown, I figured what better way to waste away a Saturday than to take the girls and go on a nice relaxing picnic.

still snow, but it’s sublimating quickly

Yeahhh…picnics…the only problem is that parks are not my scene.  Pushing my kid on a swing is fun for about 8 seconds.  In 92 degree heat maybe 2 seconds.  Sue me.  Instead we stuffed the pack full of junk food and down jackets, vacuumed the rug AGAIN and ran screaming out the door with 5 minutes to spare.  We threw the neglected dog in the truck and pointed it east towards Sharkstooth Pass, another one of those benign local favorites that gets you big giggles for your buck if you can find your way to the trailhead.

examining every bug, rock and molecule of dirt takes time

The most entertaining part of the day was negotiating the blind curves on the forest road heading up to Sharkstooth.  Each one came factory-installed with mouth-breathing, helmet-less idiots doing 50mph on the wrong side of the road on their ATVs.  Listen, I’m driving a Tundra.  I’m probably not going to FEEL you under my tires if your normally cat-like reflexes are dulled by your day-after Schlitz headache and the grace of the divine timing intervention that has kept you alive to this point fails.  I’ll just think it’s another bumpy washboard moment and continue on to my picnic.  And yet still you test that fate, large, soft-headed person coming around every corner through blinding, choking dust on your little machine.  Luckily for you, today was your day.  On two occasions I did the math and with 3-4 seconds of head-start, if I had not let Addy buckle her own belt and been on that road 3 seconds earlier, I would probably be cleaning your teeth out of my radiator and be up to my eyeballs in aggravating paperwork right now.

look, they’re not fighting

Anyhoo…

Having avoided vehicular homicide as something to cross off of my bucket list, we finally got to the last turn to the trailhead, a punishing mile and a half of  ‘road’ that you really only want to attack with a high clearance vehicle or a rental car.  Once upon a time I took my Matrix up there when it still had new car sticker residue on the window.  And it made it just fine, thank you.  I only lost one plastic piece but the nice person behind me stopped and picked it up and handed it to me at the trailhead.  Hey, I had to test the mettle of the thing.  Todd considers it a defining moment of what he was going to have to deal with till death do us part.

big air in the shadow of mighty Hesperus

It’s a measly 2 miles from the trailhead to the pass.  Getting to the trailhead is far more trying than the hike.  Even with a 3 year old.  The girls were in a good mood other than having to walk up a hill instead of being pushed on a swing.   Maisy hikes like an adult.  Her legs are already longer than mine (not a huge feat, so are the legs of most 8 year olds).  Addy hikes like a 3 year old.  She likes to really examine things.  She likes to wax poetic about the efforts of going uphill.  They both REALLY wanted to know where the lunch spot was going to be and if we were getting closer.  The answer is always yes, we’re getting closer.  It’s noncommittal.

taunting the dog is a marmot olympic sport

27 animal, fairy and dinosaur stories and a social marmot later we came to the pass where the wind was blowing at about 30mph.  We ducked into the lee side, covered ourselves in down and kicked back to enjoy the view.  A nice couple came to the top  a bit later and marveled that there was a 3 year old there.  The girls and I just looked at each other and laughed.  Please, sister.  This ain’t nothin’.  This is a walk to a picnic, not a hike.  She asked Addy ‘How did you get up here young lady?’ Addy smiled and looked at me.  I told the nice lady that a helicopter had dropped us off and would be back to pick us up momentarily.  Right on cue a helicopter (that we hadn’t seen yet in the day) came roaring up from the south.  I just smiled, pointed and said ‘see, there they are now’.  I think they walked away believing we were using a helicopter to get around the San Juans.

a raven fighting a dragon, according to Maisy. See it?

We lingered longer than usual with, luxuriously, nothing to rush off to and soaked up the sun as the kids licked every molecule of food out of the baggies.  For some reason they continued to choose to not spend the time efficiently trying to kill each other.  We grudgingly ducked back into the wind and started down after about an hour of being lazy.  Gravity is the friend of all children hikers and I gleefully hiked full-stride to keep up.  The only price to pay was making train noises all the way down the hill (as demanded by Addy).  Being last I had to invent the noise that a caboose makes.  Use your imagination.

sister snuggles at 12,000. still not trying to kill each other. maybe the lack of oxygen is a good thing

That’s all she wrote.  No burned limbs, no screeching hissy fits, just a beautiful day in the mountains.  Todd’s foot is about healed up enough where we might get out for a backpacking trip next weekend and create more Scarred for Life family memories.

look they’re TOUCHING each other and not crying

Categories: Hiking, Hiking with Kids | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Gear Review: the Six Moon Design Lunar Duo

Here we go with tent #3, the Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo.  When I read on Brett’s Blog that four grown men were able to sit in this tent playing cards while riding out a rain storm on the Wonderland Trail I had to see it in person.   Especially since it comes in at under three pounds (41 oz without stakes or poles).  It does require 4-6 stakes so add another couple of ounces if you’re counting.  Another 4 oz if you’re not using hiking poles and want to buy the optional carbon fiber poles.

This tent is able to deliver massive interior space by using only two small spacer poles curving at the roof and relying on two hiking poles (or optionally two carbon fiber poles that can be purchased separately for those that don’t hike with poles) to be the bones of the tent.

Similar to the Double Rainbow this is a single-walled tent meaning that the mesh sides are sewn directly into the silicon-nylon roof.  It has a bathtub floor, gets staked out at the corners and by adjusting the height of the trekking poles you can create tension where you need it instead of with your tent-mate since there is enough room for the whole family.  You will likely want to add a few guy lines to this set-up; there are two guy points from which you can add some stability.

While the Lunar Duo doesn’t have a porch option like the Double Rainbow, it does have vestibules on each side large enough for gear.  I would be curious to know how this sheds water and wind with its surface area being so large, but it is the same surface area that creates such a huge and comfortable interior so I guess there are tradeoffs.  With good staking there is no reason to doubt that this tent can hold up to quite a bit of abuse.  Again, a great comparison review has been done of this tent and two others here.  All in all this seems like a fantastic option for claustrophobic backpackers who want to make everyone around them envious of their living space.

Cost: (as of May 18th, 2012) the Tent is $310, optional carbon fiber poles are $30 each, optional seam sealing is $30, a Tyvek ground cloth is $12, and a set of 6 stakes is $10.50

Preliminary Pros

Massive.  No complaints about the size of this tent.  It is the largest of the three reviewed.

Easy to set up once you get the hang of it.

The zippers are the sturdiest (#5s) of any of the three tents.

Made in the USA

Preliminary Cons

Unless you have good firm dirt to plant your stakes in, keeping it tensioned might be a problem.  I guess that’s where rocks come in.

Relies on hiking poles or extra carbon fiber poles which add to the weight by about 4 oz.

Click HERE for my review of the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2

Click HERE for my review of the Tarp Tent Double Rainbow

Categories: Backpacking, Backpacking with Kids, Gear | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gear Review: the Tarptent Double Rainbow

I found this tent via Brettonstuff.com (a great site for ultralight backpacking tips and trip reports from the NW) who mentioned the Lunar Duo in a Wonderland Trail trip report (my review of the Lunar Duo).  His mention of the Lunar Duo led me to THIS website which does a way better job of reviewing the Lunar Duo and Double Rainbow than I will here.  Why reinvent the wheel?  I’ll just add my 2 cents.

Tarptent has been lightening the loads of backpackers since 1999 and they are still a cottage industry gear supplier; all tents are made in Seattle.  The Double Rainbow is their mid-sized two person tent and, in my humble opinion, brilliantly designed.  It has one pole that runs lengthwise in an arc, through a sleeve.

With the four corners staked out it is just about set up.  Two vestibules on either side have the options of being simply tied up for maximum air flow on beautiful days, staked out for vestibule area, or set up with hiking poles into a porch option.  Two doors make getting in and out easy and the interior feels positively palatial compared to the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2 (my review is here).  6’2″ Todd was much happier in this tent; plenty of extra length in it.

The floor is a rectangle instead of the tapered design of the Big Agnes.  Here is a shot of the Big Agnes footprint laid on top of the Double Rainbow floor for comparison.  While it doesn’t look like a big difference, those 4-6 extra inches in width at the foot SEEM like a lot.  Maybe it’s the mammoth head room that helps complete the feeling of grandeur.

We ordered the extra liner – not sure how it will work once we’re camping in condensation-making parts of the country but it’s a 4 oz piece of nylon that clips into the corners and along the ridge to form a second wall in a single wall tent.  It adds warmth in the winter and I can attest to it cutting down on the heat from direct sun as when I was setting this thing up it felt like it was probably 150 degrees out.  I’m sure it was more like 78 but my comfort zone is pretty small.  Ask Todd, I do a lot of bitching.  Anyway, once the liner was clipped in it was noticeably cooler in the tent. The liner is decidedly hard to illustrate with a picture but here is a shot of part of it:

The two vestibules and doors are a slam dunk for me.  Camping with kids means they’re ALWAYS moving, having to pee in the middle of the night, spreading their stuff everywhere.  With their own side to get in and out of and a patch of vestibule to keep their stinky socks and shoes so they’re not right in MY face…perfect.  Here is a shot of the profile, vestibule staked on the left, porch out on the right:

And this porch option, how cool is that?  Allows for great airflow, lets you open up the view in a light drizzle…if you’re hiking with trekking poles this is an easy sell.  If not you can certainly guy the porch out with a couple of sticks.  A triangular piece of fabric attaches the two vestibule triangles with velcro to create the porch.  You’ll need a couple of extra guy lines to stake it out from the hiking sticks.

One last cool thing they’ve done is allow you to use your hiking poles in order to make this a free-standing tent.  It should be noted that not all hiking poles will be long enough (my superlight Leki Makalu’s were a few inches too short).  I remedied this by taking the pole repair sleeve from another tent and putting it on the tip of the hiking pole to extend it to the required length.  It didn’t make for the strongest option but would work in a pinch.  With proper length poles, which we had a set of in the garage, it was sturdier.  It isn’t as good an option as staking the tent out but it is there when you need it, if you have hiking sticks.  Options are good.

All in all I think that this tent will prove to be my favorite.  It feels solid when set up, doesn’t require hiking poles, has great doors and vestibule room and is enormous on the inside compared to the Big Agnes.

Tent Specs:

Tent body, pole and 6 Easton stakes: 41 oz or 2 lbs 9 oz

Clip in liner: 4 oz

2 extra stakes: 1 oz

2 extra guy lines: 1 oz

total weight that we will be carrying: 2 lbs 15.8 oz

Cost: (as of May 18th, 2012) Tent is $275, the Liner is $30, they’ll seam-seal it for you for $30, you can buy a Tyvek ground sheet for $12

Preliminary Pros

Roomy.  Long.  Vestibules. Porch.  Etc.  It rules.

Super easy to set up

Made in the USA

Preliminary Cons

Hmm…

I’ll work on thinking of one.  I guess we’ll see how it does when we get into humidity, but I’m hoping the liner will help with that.

OO, I thought of one.  It’s slippery as a greased-up pig.  Getting it back into the stuff-sack was the hardest part of this experiment!  I can live with that.

Click HERE for my review of the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2

Click HERE for my review of the Six Moon Design Lunar Duo

Categories: Backpacking, Backpacking with Kids, Gear | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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