Monday, April 28, 2008


Well, 3 nights into my backyard camping expedition, I'm learning so fast my IQ just might be going back up. (Blonde, senior, working all winter with toddlers, I've been losing ground.)

I LOVE that fleece sleeping-bag liner I made. I have been so cozily warm and toasty I didn't want to get up. And for some reason, despite being so warm as to be aware of being warm, not a single night-time hot flash since I've been sleeping outside.

Last night it rained all night. Today all morning, too. It sounded lovely on the tent and I slept beautifully.

However, I have drips, leaks, and a wet tent floor.

Drips and leaks: I'm not sure why this is happening, except that the ties to my rainfly slip a little causing it to loosen. It works like an umbrella, only shedding rain if it's taut. I re-adjusted the ties and secured them better.

Then I made a second rainfly out of an extra piece of Tyvek I have.

The Tyvek sheet doesn't have any grommets or loops to attach guylines to, so I did this:

A little ball of tin-foil, rolled till smooth, wrapped with a rubber band, gives the guyline something to hold onto. Yes, MacGyver here had these little tin-foil balls in her emergency kit, having thought of it all by herself. And the rubber bands. Just for such an eventuality. None of it weighs anything in my pack. MacGyver also had extra tent stakes, although they do add a little weight.

Then I staked out the "optional" rainfly guyouts, intended for windy conditions which I did not have, but I guess I need them in rain, too.

Mind you, I am doing all this in the rain. Because I need to learn how to set up and/or fix problems when it's raining.

Wet floor: this is because part of my Tyvek groundcloth was peeking out from under my tent, and rain falling on that ran in under and pooled, just like all the literature, info and intel say it will. I knew this. I had been careful setting up the tent squarely over the groundcloth. But yesterday, when I noticed some sidewall-slacking, I readjusted the stakeout positions, which caused the tent to move off the groundcloth a little, and I was CARELESS and didn't notice and now I was paying for it.

I debated which would be easier:
  • Pull out the groundcloth, dry it, and move the tent over it,
  • Or pull it out, dry it, and shove it back underneath the loaded tent.

I went for the second. It was a hassle. But I got that done and trust me, NO part of that groundcloth is peeking out now.

The final step: at the end where the running-under was happening, I scraped a little drainage trench. Now, in the wilderness, this would violate the Leave No Trace commitment. But here in the State Park, where tents and campers are only allowed to situate on gravel camping pads, it doesn't matter. I'll scuff it back up and no one will ever see it was there.

The advantage of doing all this in the backyard is that I can go into the camper and get what I need. Like a towel. To dry my wet floor. Which meant moving everything, including my sleeping pad and all my accumulated gear.

My sleeping bag had some damp places where it had been dripped on. This is not a disaster; it's one advantage of synthetic fill over down: it maintains its insulating ability even when wet. So does fleece, although my bag liner was still dry anyway.

The night before last, I was toasty warm with my fleece liner, but my head was cold, and when I ducked it under my bag, I couldn't breathe. Yesterday I messed around with it and found there's enough extra length to pull up over my head and make a hood using the drawstring, although it's not a "mummy" bag. So I did that last night but, the bag not being made for that, it was uncomfortable and I ended up tying my sweater over my head like a bandana.

Tonight I'm wearing a knit hat.


ShirleyPerly said...

Great that you're working out all the tent details before the big hike!

Downhillnut said...

Love the foil ball elastic band solution. Genius!

When we go camping (I'm NO expert) I sleep in my fleece hoodie. It keeps me warm and the mosquitoes can't find my neck :)

From Here to There said...

You are BRILLIANT! Love the foil ball idea! I never would have thought of that, and would have sprung for a hole, which would have spread and torn before the hour was up.

I have a fleece hat I wear for cold camping, it has a drawstring to keep it on my head. All you can see when I'm sleeping is a nose :)

Jade Lady said...

Well, MacGyver - you always have tricks up your sleeves - If I went camping, I think that the only mandatory thing that I need to bring is YOU!