Hammock Camping at Ratcliff Lake

March 19-20 was a nice trip to Ratcliff Lake campground to meet some of the Hammockforums personalities and see some different hammocks. Unfortunately, I notice I took fewer pictures of people than I did of the hammocks and stuff. I seem to have that tendency.

Slinky got there sometime on Thursday to do some fishing and snag us a campsite or two. I arrived early Friday afternoon under sunny skies and warm temperatures. I proceeded to set up my Eno Doublenest hammock with its guide gear tarp for my first night of hammock camping.

Ratcliff Lake 19-20 March 2010

One of my tree hugger straps snapped while I was getting the hang perfected. It snapped just before the marlinspike hitch and the threads appeared to just pull out. Not impressed. I borrowed a strap from captn (the next to arrive after me) because I didn’t trust my remnants, even though I had enough. I’ll be ordering some better straps soon.

Here’s a shot of slinky’s Clark Jungle Hammock.
Ratcliff Lake 19-20 March 2010
Though the tarp is small, the hammock itself looks built for foul weather. It’s got layers of fabric that zip shut to keep the bugs and the wind out, and the tarp just keeps the rain clear.

Here’s captn’s Grand Trunk hammock with a Hennessey tarp setting up behind the hammockforums flag.
Ratcliff Lake 19-20 March 2010
The Grand Trunk is an extremely inexpensive and lightweight hammock, but according to captn, it’s also rather small.

In the foreground, you can see captn’s hammock. But the point of this picture was the collection of hammocks from UncleMJM’s family in the background.
Ratcliff Lake 19-20 March 2010
Let’s see, there’s a modified side-entry Hennessey in there, and a Warbonnet. I’m not sure which one the third hammock was. I liked the stretchy tarp guy lines they used to maintain tension.

A few folks arrived late. Armijo was the first of the late arrivals. He got there before I went to bed. I don’t have any pictures of his hammock. He practically set up in the lake, and I was concerned he might float away if we got too much rain.

Throkda and kattelyn arrived after I went to sleep. I was sleeping so well that I don’t even remember waking up when they set up their hammocks. They even had a puppy with them. So quiet!

I met them after I got up in the morning while we waited for UncleMJM to work his magic with dutch ovens to make breakfast. Very tasty meal!

I did get some pictures of Throkda‘s and kattelyn’s hammocks that morning. They used Hennesseys with Supershelters.
Ratcliff Lake 19-20 March 2010

I could certainly see myself adapting the idea of the supershelter to my own hammock. Basically it’s a sheet of nylon underneath the hammock where you put the insulation of your choice to keep warm (Throkda had a foam pad and a sheet of mylar from a space blanket in his). Sleeping directly on the pad left my back a little clammy, but I had no trouble staying warm during the 50-deg night.

I did have some issues with my hang, though.
Ratcliff Lake 19-20 March 2010
This was Saturday morning. I woke up with my bum on the ground, and you can see the sag in my big tarp. For one, I think the tarp is a bit too big. I liked the sizes of the Hennessey hex tarps some others had, so I think I’ll be getting something similar in size. I also wonder if my hammock stretched overnight. I tried hanging it as high as possible, but with the massive tarp, I could get the straps as high as I could reach and it still wasn’t enough. I think a smaller tarp would let me choose trees closer together, which would let me hang my hammock higher.

I didn’t have my bug net yet (I have an Warbonnet Traveler bug net on order), but thankfully I didn’t need it. It was early enough in the season that bugs weren’t an issue. There were bugs out and about, but the biting ones didn’t really assert their presence much. There were a couple skeeters, but a squirt of Picaridin repellent on the back of my neck kept them away.

I had originally planned to hike the 20mi 4C Trail on Sat and Sun, but since noone else was planning on hiking it, I opted to stay in camp. The weather forecast also continued to worsen. It got bad enough that I was uncomfortable pushing my limits on this trip. That will have to wait for some other time when I’m more accustomed to hammock camping and have my gear and techniques figured out.

When the rain started late Saturday morning, I bolted with most of the rest of the folks. Too bad. But on the positive, I did get to stop at the farmer’s market on the way home and buy some amazing local cheeses.

It was a good trip, and after my wife saw these photos of our campsites, she really wants to visit this campground in the future. I think I could make that happen.

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