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The AT: Appalachian Trail Thru-hike

A roof over our heads

I know I made a big deal about the hammocks. I know I sang the praises of the Warbonnet Blackbird (thanks Brandon, for making a product that allows me to enjoy the backcountry). Bailey was wishing he could hang his Hennessy in his bedroom, and forego a bed altogether. What changed?

The weather. My research. Look, man, it’s raining right now, and it’s cold. I really don’t see a need to prove anything by following through with this “hangin’ the whole hike” idea, not when other options abound.

We are starting early, so that means a different set of problems than those jumping off in April.

1. Cold: We have the possibility of being in the single digits, especially in the GSMNP. If the shelters are full we would have to tarp or hammock outside them, which means we would need to carry extra weight for bottom insulation.

2. Rain: Cold plus rain are a bad, bad, bad, combination. Failure to pitch a tarp correctly over a hammock could result in wetness, which could lead to hypothermia. Not gonna risk it.

3. Weight: The cold temperatures would mean we would have to carry under quilts to use in conjunction with our top quilts. Let’s just guesstimate and say one top quilt weighs 2 pounds, one UQ weighs 2 pounds, and the tarp is not quite a pound with line. Now add in the actual hammock, and a pad for when we have to go to ground. See what I mean. We would carry over five pounds for shelter and sleep a piece.

Enter the tent

It wasn’t even on Whiteblaze.net yet, and Michelle found it. What she was looking for I’ll never know. Six Moon Designs has a nice two person shelter for not a lot of moola. The Lunar Duo has received pretty decent reviews over at Stick’s Blog (if you aren’t reading his blog or watching his YouTube channel you are missing out). Hike, Bike, Dale used it on the AT with his wife, and was pleased with it. Guess what else?

What was $160 is now even less! A factory foul up resulted in a number of these tents being shipped to the warehouse, and they all have blemishes from the dye. So Six Moon Designs decided to unload these unwanted in a sale, the Lemons to Lemonade Lunar Duo Sale. For sixty dollars we get waterproof, wind resistant, and somewhat free standing, shelter. All at a weight under five pounds total (about 3 pounds)

How did this come about? I procrastinated. I have proven my Mom wrong, just this once. It does pay, or at least save. What about the hammocks?

Further up the trail, Virginia or thereabouts, we will most likely switch out. The reasons for doing so are similar to why we are beginning with a tent.

Hot: Hanging in a hammock at night enables the air to circulate around you and keeps you cooler.

Rain: I can pitch a tarp to keep out wind blown rain, just not wind blown cold. Tarps used to stop rain are lighter than those huge tarps that have door flaps used in the winter.

Bugs: Hammocks have mesh entry, which keeps bugs out. Tents have mesh over the doors, but they don’t stay closed, which means bugs inside. Hammocks win on this one, every time, trust me.

Weight: A top insulation layer, like a very light quilt or bag, will be a pound or less, the tarp will be a few ounces, and the hammock weighs two pounds. Four pounds per person, still heavier than the tent, but it will be bug free.




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