While the wife was spending the weekend in Chicago I thought
it would be a great time to get out for one more overnight
before winter set in and check and see whether my new Western
Mountaineering Sycamore MF was up to it's 25° rating.
I also figured to check out my Tarptent Cloudburst 2 in
inclement weather. The weather was unseasonably cold for
this time of year so I decided on a short trip to our back
yard would be my best alternative.
I would go super-duper UL on this trip packing only my
Cloudburst 2, the Sycamore, full length Therm-a-rest, hat,gloves
and a Pop Tart. Actually, my load was so compact that I
didn't evn bother with a pack and carried it all to camp
in my left hand. it should be noted that I made the conscious
decision not to carry a first aid kit and other essentials
knowing I had a short hike out the next day. It was a risk
I was willing to take to be a minimalist for a day. I also
left my headlamp at home in the gear closet knowing I could
rely on the moon or streetlights for illumination should
I need to pee in the middle of the night.
|Not quite 25° but close enough.
|The Cloudburst 2 in gentler climes.
I left the house shortly after 6 PM and hiked a grueling
20 steps before I found a level patch of grass near the large maple that hadn't
been tore up from the kids soccer cleats.
Once I saw the spot, I knew I was "home". I quickly
pulled the Cloudburst from its stuff sack, and just as quickly
was chasing the sack across the yard as it tried to blow
away. I managed to get the tent up shortly. I backtracked
to the house to check out the thermometer and was shocked
to see that the temperature was down to a balmy 44°,
though the wind chill index was at 19°. Sweet. It would
get a lot colder later I hoped. I climbed into my bag just
for shits and giggles and to get an initial feel for the
bag's performance in colder weather.
After a few minutes of laying there doing nothing but getting
warm and bored I decided it was time to eat and hiked back
to the house and ordered some chinese from the Hong Kong
Buffet. I figured it would be best that I stayed in the
house while waiting for the food so I turned on the TV and
laid on the couch. Finding nothing worthy of my time I went
to our bedroom for some internet surfing until the food
|Not a lot of precipitation coming
my way but plenty of cool weather!
The driver arrived with my General Tso chicken and quickly
left before uttering a word of english I could understand.
I ate, got some chicken stuck between two lower molars and
flossed. I went back to the couch and watched the local
high school football game on TV until 9:30. Still not ready
to hit the sack despite a long day on the trail I spent
anoher 2 hours surfing the net and had a peanut butter and
jelly sanwich for a late night snack.
Finally, it was time. I donned my long underwear, light fleece top
and took what I hoped was my last piss of the night---doubtful
since I had drank 2 cans of Diet Coke during the evening---and
hiked back to camp and quickly crawled into my bag. The
luxurious down fill felt like thin wisps of clouds in the
summer western sky. Quickly enough I began to warm up.
Though windy, the Cloudburst 2 held fast and only allowed
the slightest of the arctic breeze inside. Buoyed with newfound
confidence I wouldn't wake up an icicle I attempted to fall
asleep when it dawned on me that I had forgotten to bring
a pillow with me. Dammit! I knew I couldn't sleep without
one knowing a mere 50' away I had 5 on our bed, so I unzipped
the bag and scurried back to the house.
II quickly checked my e-mail and then trudged back to the
tent armed with not one, but two pillows and a pee bottle.
Hey, I might as well be comfortable, right?
|The Western Mountaineering Hooded
Sycamore performed great in temps down to the upper
I fell asleep surprisingly quick despite the traffic on
the street but my slumber was interrupted around 1:30 AM
by some asshole screeching his tires. The rest of the night
was uneventful aside from waking up a couple of times to
As I awoke for the last time just before 6 AM I took careful
note of the interior of my tent: no condensation---good
deal. A check of my sleeping bag revealed nothing out of
the ordinary. Success.
Now that the gear testing portion of the trip was complete
it was time to think about breakfast. I decided to forgo
the Pop Tart and opted to hike out in favor of bacon, eggs
and toast. A wise choice and a beautiful ending to my last
trip of the year.