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bird dog
2006-11-07, 10:20
My post trip reports are normally lengthy and I keep them on file at the house so I can make changes to my equipment and assist with future trip plans to the same sight. This is an excerpt from my report (I will keep it as brief as possible). Im open for comments/suggestions. Enjoy.

On Saturday, 11-04-06 my friend Double B, my brother and I left for the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area. Double B is a former Marine and has lots of backpacking experience, while this is only my brothers third trip. The plan was to head down the Babel Tower Trail to the Linville Gorge Trail and camp near the Spence Ridge Trail. On Sunday morning, we were going to hike to the Conley Cove Trail, up to the Conley Cove Trail Head, then road walk back to our car. The high temperature Saturday was 44, with a low of 21. Sunday's highest temperature while we were on the trail was 48.

Before heading out on my trip, I established some personal goals that I wanted to accomplish. I have redone my entire packing list to lessen my weight. I dont like titles such as "ultralight backpacker" or the like, but am happy to report that my pack weight, including winter clothing, 2L + 20oz water, two days worth of food, and all of my other essentials was 22lbs! While that may be heavy for others, I was/am ECSTATIC about that! My goals for the trip were: play with my Hennessey Hammock and get accustomed to setup/teardown, etc. as this was the first time I have used it, and to see if I could handle 21 degrees in the HH; overall test my packing list and make sure that it is workable for my spring trips (Springer to Fontanna, and a thru of the Foothills Trail); Test Freezer Bag Cooking techniques with my new ETOWAH II Alcohol stove; Test the ETOWAH's performance in the field (this is my first ever experience with an alcohol stove); HAVE A GOOD TIME.

The Linville Gorge Wilderness Area is sometimes refered to as the "Grand Canyon of the East" and is located off of Interstate 40 near Morganton, NC in the Pisgah National Forest. The area is named for William Linville, an explorer who lived nearby and was killed by the Cherokees in 1766. The 12,000 acre wilderness is one of the original componets of the National Wilderness System. The Linville River divides the area into the West Rim (where I was) and the East Rim. The Cherokees called the river "Eeseeoh" which means "river of many cliffs". The area is fairly rugged with ~50 hikers yearly requiring rescue. The elevation ranges between 1300 feet at the river to ~4040' near the top of the rim.

On day 1, we hiked down the Babel Tower trail (1.3 miles) to Babel Tower. Babel Tower is a 400' rock "tower" that looks like a tower from a castle in the middle ages. From Babel Tower, you have excellent views of the entire Gorge and can really put the area in perspective. The Babel tower trail is a fairly well maintained trail compared to some of the others in the area, but is by no means as manicured as parts of the AT. The hike to the Tower was rather uneventful unless you consider dodging scores of bear hunters and their dogs eventfull. They were everywhere. Because of this, I really wished that I had gotten my Jacks r Better/Jeffs pack cover/gear hammock in blaze orange instead of green (By the way, the cover/gear hammock functioned beautifully and is a great piece of gear). From Babel Tower, we took photos of Hawksbill Mountain and Table Rock Mountain, then hit the Linville Gorge Trail to our campsite just north of the Spence Ridge Trail.

The Linville Gorge Trail is also not recommended for novice hikers. There are areas of the trail that require steady foot work to cross to avoid falling hundreds of feet. Conversely, it is some of the most beautiful scenery in the East. As the Gorge trail descends, you can hear the Linville River long before you see it. It is a beautiful river.

We camped just north of the Spence Ridge Trail near the River. We made camp early, because it gets dark quite early in "the hole". I set up my HH with a view of the river, but put the included SilNylon tarp up to trap at least some heat since it would be sooo cold. The hammock set up just like it should have, but I had problems with the tarp. Prior to leaving, I made some Just Jeffs tarp tensioners to ensure my tarp would remain tight. While I could get the sides tight, I couldnt get the thing tight across the top (ridge line). Remember, this is the first time I have used my HH. I tried to set the tarp up independant from the hammock, but wasnt sure if I should just tie the tarp tensioners to each tree using a small loop of string around the tree tied to the tarp tensioners or if I should use a long piece of 550 cord to make a "ridge line" under the length of the tarp. {Any help or suggestions here would be nice. I have pics of my setup(s) I could send} I couldnt figure it out, and it was getting dark so I attached the tarp to the hammock, but still could not get the tarp as tight as I would like (maybe due to the material stretching since it was first use?). Anyhow, I love the hammock but need more practice. I knew that it would be cold in the hammock (21 degrees) but wanted to see how much I could tolerate. I found that while my butt and shoulders were cold when they slid off of the pad, it was tolerable. We made a camp fire and cooked dinner on our respective stoves. I had not used my ETOWAH II stove until this point (ever). I dumped in some "Crown" brand denatured alcohol purchased at REI and tried to light it with a lighter. I couldnt get the flame low enough in the stove to light it with the lighter, but it fired right up with a match. I placed 2cups of very cold water in my Snow Peak titanium kettle and boiled water before either of my gas stove competitors could (one with a Peak I, and one with a MSR Whisperslite). I was IMPRESSED with the stove. My only issues are - bring matches next time, mark my plastic fuel bottle with ounce increments, do proper testing on stove to time how long it takes to boil with amount of fuel so as not to waste fuel in the future.

During the night, my younger brother (a big guy at 250lbs) got his trail name. His pack weighed in at somewhere over 50 lbs (yup I said 50 lbs) for one night. Double B and I looked at everything in his pack and found, among other things, that he had batteries that fit nothing he carried, and 5 flashlights (not to include a tent light that is the size of a small disco ball). My brother is not a very gracefull person, nor is he fleet of foot. When he walks, tree sway and rocks bounce. So, he earned the trail name SHERPA, because it is everything that he is not! We argued all day over several names, but when Sherpa was tossed on the table, everyone agreed and it stuck.

The next day, we hiked to the Conley Cove Trail and up to the Conley Cove trailhead. Conley Cove trail is 1.35 miles long with an elevation gain of somewhere around 1500 feet. The trail is primitive with lots of slick spots were water comes off the mountain over rock, and LOTS of fallen trees (from a severe forest fire in 2000 that hasnt been completely cleaned up yet). The trail can be dangerous in spots, but then thats what makes it the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area. All the way up, Sherpa talked about how much he hated hiking, and at one point threatened to leave his 50+ pound pack on the trail and buy all new stuff if there ever was a "next time"! There were still a few colorful leaves left on the trees, but the trail offered excellent views most of the way up of the eastern rim of the gorge. Once at the Conley Cove trailhead, Sherpa talked about how much he loved the trip and was eager to come again despite his sniveling.

I slackpacked up the road towards the Babel Tower Trailhead to get the car most of the way until I hitched the rest of the way with a guy from Brazil who was taking pictures of the area. On the way home, we stopped at Wendys and I ate $11 worth of hamburgers and chilli.

I accomplished all of my goals on the trip and was HAPPY with my 22# pack weight and all of my gear. I think I have made good gear choices and that my 22#'s are more reliable and overall better gear than my previous 40+#'s. I still need lots of practice with my HH (lots of advice when it comes to the fly - although I REALLY WANT A MACCAT DELUXE), and to do some formal time tests on the stove. For those of you who have never used an ETOWAH II stove, buy stock in the company, this thing is a great piece of gear (No, Im not trying to sell it, dont even know who makes it, just know that it WORKS). Just Jeffs Freezer bag cooking idea works great for me, so now I just need to find some more recipes for variety (I found a freezer bag cookbook on line I may get). Most of all, I had fun.

BD

Take-a-knee
2006-11-07, 11:01
Good report BD, I decided awhile back to just tie my hammock fly ( I won't be specific as to brand and model ) to the tree. Tie it even with the tree huggers for adequate ventilation, lower than the tree huggers for wind.

Does anyone know if Linville George was where "The Last of the Mohicans" was filmed?

bird dog
2006-11-07, 13:43
T-A-K, you are correct. The movie Last of the Mohicans was filmed on the east rim of the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area near Table Rock State Park. The fort in the movie was built near Lake James. It is a beautiful area. I should have also added that William Linville and his sons were killed near Linville Falls and Scalped by Cherokee Indians.

Thankfully, I didnt see any Cherokees or Mohicans. While I dont have much, my wife still digs my hair! :bandit:

BD

bird dog
2006-11-07, 13:45
Good report BD, I decided awhile back to just tie my hammock fly ( I won't be specific as to brand and model ) to the tree. Tie it even with the tree huggers for adequate ventilation, lower than the tree huggers for wind.


Good advice. Do you just use a loop of rope at each end to attach the tarp to the tree, or do you use a long piece running the length of the tarp like a ridge line? BD

Take-a-knee
2006-11-07, 18:21
I just use a piece of red 550 tied at each end of the tarp, I don't use anything any lighter because it is too hard to untie. If it is a big tree I just tie a couple of half-hitches and a quick-release, if it is a small tree just make a couple of wraps around the tree for enough friction so it doesn't slip. The nylon will sag when it gets wet so you need to string it fairly snug to start with. I'm pretty sure Rock has pictures of this on the site somewhere, or maybe it was Jeffs' site.

bird dog
2006-11-07, 18:44
Thanks for the infor TAK. I'll try it here to see if I can get it to work for me. I already carry 550 (Im stubborn and wont carry anything lighter) for GP, and for bear bag. BD

n2o2diver
2006-11-07, 19:05
Thanks for the report.

I just used my HH for the 1st time this weekend too! I also set up my Fly to the tree with some 550 cord, just tying the ends, no ridge. What are you using under you? Inside?

I got a deal on the HH SS so I used it this weekend with a 40 degree el cheapo bag inside. I was wearing light pants and a shirt. Temps were in the mid 30's with 10kts winds. Im a warm sleeper and this was fine for me.

Wishing for a JRB quilt when I got the $.

Skidsteer
2006-11-07, 19:51
I enjoyed the trip report BD.

Matches are handy no doubt, but you don't always need them to light an Alky Stove. If the flame of your lighter won't ignite your fuel you can grab a pine needle, twig, etc. and dip it in the alcohol, light it, and use it like a match to fire up the stove.

I need to plan a trip to Linville Gorge....

bird dog
2006-11-07, 22:45
Thanks for the report.

I just used my HH for the 1st time this weekend too! I also set up my Fly to the tree with some 550 cord, just tying the ends, no ridge. What are you using under you? Inside?

I got a deal on the HH SS so I used it this weekend with a 40 degree el cheapo bag inside. I was wearing light pants and a shirt. Temps were in the mid 30's with 10kts winds. Im a warm sleeper and this was fine for me.

Wishing for a JRB quilt when I got the $.

I used what I had inside: A Therma-Rest Z-lite full length pad, and a Kelty Lightyear 25 degree down bag. I slept in a pair of capilene underwear, socks, and a field jacket liner. I am a warm sleeper, but apparently the wind off of the river combined with the 21 degree temperature kept my butt cold everytime it slid off of the pad. It didnt help that my sleeping bag zipper broke either. BD

bird dog
2006-11-07, 22:47
I enjoyed the trip report BD.

Matches are handy no doubt, but you don't always need them to light an Alky Stove. If the flame of your lighter won't ignite your fuel you can grab a pine needle, twig, etc. and dip it in the alcohol, light it, and use it like a match to fire up the stove.

I need to plan a trip to Linville Gorge....

Great point Skidsteer that I didnt think of. I like the security of having a lighter and didnt like the idea of dumping it for matches. If you need company in the Gorge, let me know. Im pretty familiar with the place. BD

sailingsoul
2006-11-08, 00:03
Very intresting trip report to read. Thanks for taking the time. Hope a trip there is in my future. At least I made it there briefly,,,, tonight. SS :captain:

Pappyhighlife
2006-11-08, 13:25
Great report BD, I was worried how the HH would do in the cold, my son did Linville several weeks ago with his pals, temp dropped to 38 and he froze in his HH (Pad and 20 degree bag) says he is swearing off the HH till spring.

He was the only one with the HH everyone else had tents, he had a bad two nights and it was his first time using the Explorer Delux in cool weather that I had gotten him for Xmas. He is now looking at the quilts.

I did the Steelcreek trail near Tablerock off 181 last month, I will find my trip notes and post it here. Enjoyed the report.........

bird dog
2006-11-08, 15:41
Great report BD, I was worried how the HH would do in the cold, my son did Linville several weeks ago with his pals, temp dropped to 38 and he froze in his HH (Pad and 20 degree bag) says he is swearing off the HH till spring.

He was the only one with the HH everyone else had tents, he had a bad two nights and it was his first time using the Explorer Delux in cool weather that I had gotten him for Xmas. He is now looking at the quilts.

I did the Steelcreek trail near Tablerock off 181 last month, I will find my trip notes and post it here. Enjoyed the report.........

Looking forward to hearing about your trip. BD

SCmoose
2006-11-15, 22:50
BD, Great trip report. What an awsome area. Spent 4 days hikeing the length of Linville before the fire. It was very overgrown back then. One fellow in the group fell on a rock near Babel Tower and broke 3 ribs. Luckily our shuttle driver was spending a few days in the area and was able to pick him up. It was her husband that fell. Our last night was at the bottom of Pinch-in Trail which we hiked out to the top. As we started our ascent we came across a mountain of.......empty colman propane bottles!!! Had to be over a hundred! We each carried a few out to do our part.
Way to go on the pack weight!! My excuse...Fat man gear just weighs more.

SCmoose
2006-11-15, 23:06
I've used my HH 2 times and probally wont be a 3rd. Im a stomach sleeper; and answer the call of nature at least once a night. Trying to get my big butt in the bag then trying to get the pad slide under me is alot of work. Love napping in it during car camping trips though.

The first use was in the rain and I attatched the fly to the main line(ridge line) with the supplied hooks, and the side lines just tied to trees lower then the height I tied the lines off the hammock. I stayed dry, my friend set up pretty much the same way but got wet. Best of luck with your hammock adventures!

Take-a-knee
2006-11-16, 00:08
SCMoose, don't give up so soon on the hammock. A 20in wide pad is a pain, that is why they sell 30in pads... and even better, underquilts. Sleeping bags simply don't work in a hammock, you need a quilt. It is like a new freefall parachute rig, the main, reserve, pilot chute etc all have to work with the container or really bad things will happen. If you buy a killer kayak and go to walmart and buy a cheap wooden canoe paddle, don't blame the kayak when you suck in the rapids. Also, any physical therapist will tell you not to sleep on your belly. In a hammock you can' sleep on a "forty-five", not on your side but not on your back, this is the most comfortable way of all to sleep.

bird dog
2006-11-16, 18:56
BD, Great trip report. What an awsome area. Spent 4 days hikeing the length of Linville before the fire. It was very overgrown back then. One fellow in the group fell on a rock near Babel Tower and broke 3 ribs. Luckily our shuttle driver was spending a few days in the area and was able to pick him up. It was her husband that fell. Our last night was at the bottom of Pinch-in Trail which we hiked out to the top. As we started our ascent we came across a mountain of.......empty colman propane bottles!!! Had to be over a hundred! We each carried a few out to do our part.
Way to go on the pack weight!! My excuse...Fat man gear just weighs more.

The Gorge is a beautiful place. I actually saw a tire on one of the large boulders in the river. Spent the whole trip trying to figure out how the tire got there. Hiking 1.3 miles at an elevation change around 1500 feet with a tire just doesnt seem like fun to me. Call me an ultralighter.......

bird dog
2006-11-16, 18:58
I've used my HH 2 times and probally wont be a 3rd. Im a stomach sleeper; and answer the call of nature at least once a night. Trying to get my big butt in the bag then trying to get the pad slide under me is alot of work. Love napping in it during car camping trips though.

The first use was in the rain and I attatched the fly to the main line(ridge line) with the supplied hooks, and the side lines just tied to trees lower then the height I tied the lines off the hammock. I stayed dry, my friend set up pretty much the same way but got wet. Best of luck with your hammock adventures!

I love my hammock, but have ALOT of practice to go. I think if I ever get a MACCAT DELUXE, it will help! BD