Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The fog ate the sun this morning and plunged us back into darkness

There was a strange glowing orb in the sky this morning. But the grayness took it away.

It's still foggy this summer. It's been really cold. Yesterday was a day for down jackets all day and down blankets all night.

Tomorrow I'm leaving for Nor Cal. Sunshine, warmth, heat, summer. I am so happy to be leaving!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Bounced paycheck again

This is the second paycheck to bounce. I am going to have to start cashing my checks like a poor person. I actually took my check to the bank it was drawn on and asked if there were sufficient funds to cash it and they said no.

I need a better job. This company I work for is a little off. All the jobs in my field listed in craigslist suck. I hope I can find a better job by taking a city college class. I wish I didn't have to play this stupid work game at all.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Beach mat sleeping pad?

I have been wondering if a straw beach mat would be a suitable backpacking pad for those hot summer months.

I currently use closed cell foam. Closed cell foam isn't really all that cushioned, so I think I could handle the even less cushioning of a straw mat. Site selection can also help. I could sleep on a thick bed of pine needles or oak leaves, if possible.

Closed cell foam is really hot during the hot months. I will often wake up sweating against the foam. I use a quilt so I sleep directly on the foam. It's quite uncomfortable when it's hot.

I bought a straw mat for $4. I think sometimes they are even cheaper. It was not very light but it was huge. It came with 3 panels of straw sewn together. I cut off one panel.

It was about 6 feet long. I'm only 5'3" tall so I cut off a little from the end. This caused the straw to start to unravel. I quickly sewed some light fabric around the cut edge and then I reinforced a few loose places here and there. They don't make these mats to last very long.

With the mat cut to the new size, it feels like it weighs the same as my full-sized closed cell foam. I usually use half a z-rest and half a blue foam pad with velcro to stick them together. The velcro adds weight, so if I just had a torso-length or a pad not cut in half, the foam would weigh less than the mat.

I prefer a full-length pad because I have a quilt, sometimes sleep without pants and don't like having my skin against the floor of my tent or plastic sheet.

Foam is bulky. The straw mat rolls up quite a bit smaller. I can even fit my weekender bear canister inside the Relay with the straw mat. I'm planning a 5 day trip on the JMT next month. I'm not sure if I could trust the mat instead of the foam insulation, however.

I might give this a try next week on a trip I'm doing from Bucks Lake to Highway 36, the midpoint portion of the PCT. I'm sure the loss of insulation will be a bonus at this time of year. I remember being very hot last year.

Why even consider a straw mat? I think it would be a more environmentally-friendly alternative. Perhaps in the future I will weave one myself from spongier cattails or tule reeds, perhaps only torso-length. I guess I kind of enjoy toying with a sort of survivalist mentality. Could I survive sleeping on reeds instead of plastic?

What do you think of this idea? Probably pretty stupid, huh?

Low chemical, low plastic beauty

I think I have figured out that I can meet my beauty needs without purchasing mass-produced chemicals and reducing my use of plastic. I haven't got all my needs met yet, but I'm working my way through.

I have dry skin and usually leave it dry and flaky except for my face. I put fancy Neutrogena lotion with sunblock on every day. Recently I bought a small bottle of jojoba oil from the farmers market. I've used that on my legs and arms and it works really well. Better than the fancy Neutrogena oil I've tried. It's much lighter. After rubbing it on my arms and legs I can touch my face and that should do it. Yay, no more lotion with chemicals I can't pronounce. No more plastic bottles to buy.

I have been washing my hair less frequently and in between washings I've been using baking soda to wash and apple cider vinegar to rinse. The baking soda and apple cider vinegar work very well. Especially the vinegar. It leaves my hair very soft and shiny. I will probably keep regular shampoo around but I find it works better diluted 50-50 with water. I can probably buy a bottle once a year. Yay, less petrochemicals for my hair. Less plastic!

Additionally, the jojoba makes my hair very happy. I put a little in my hands and rub it on my hair, or I braid my hair and rub my oiled hands down the braid. It doesn't make my hair oily at all. Just soft and smooth.

A lady at the farmers market sells olive oil castile soap. I haven't tried it yet because my other coconut castile soap is still being used. I'm sure her soap will work just as well. She sells it with nice scents and unscented, too. It's not wrapped in plastic and the olives are local.

I still use toothpaste. Baking soda is supposed to be quite harsh on your enamel. I may look into natural alternatives. So far I can't find a natural alternative to the toothbrush itself. There is a natural bristle toothbrush for sale at the health food store but it has a plastic handle and comes in a plastic box. That's not much of a savings of plastic and you have to add in the poor boar they shaved or killed.

I'm looking for a wooden comb. If I can't find one, my plastic one will probably last all eternity.

For a while I used baking soda for deodorant. It worked very well. I didn't like how difficult it was to apply it. I would make a paste and then spread it on my underarms. I attempted to dilute it more and spray it on, but it clogged the spray bottle. I bought some natural deodorant in a roll-on bottle with the plan that I would attempt to refill the bottle with water and baking soda with some essential oils once it was empty. If that doesn't work, if I can't get the roll-on ball off to refill it, I'll just try the powder puff method and puff dry baking soda onto wet armpits. Yay, no more chemical deodorant! No more plastic applicators to throw away.

Other than those items, I'm pretty low maintenance. No make-up, no hair gels or any of that kind of thing.

Friday, July 23, 2010

PCT Hikers this year

My mom lives near the halfway mark on the PCT. When I did my first PCT hike, she had no idea how close to the trail she was. She got all excited about the trail and started wondering if she could help out the hikers in some way.

The first year I hiked, she would drive through the little town she lives near and if she saw people who looked like hikers, she'd offer them a ride to the trailhead.

The second year I hiked she did the same thing, but she also left a cooler on the trail with drinks. Sometimes she would leave her phone number offering a ride to people who called. People would call her and once she got up the nerve, she invited a few to stay at her house, which is considerably far from the little town and the trail.

At first she didn't want them in the house. She offered the back yard to pitch tents and sleep. She saw all the tents out there and felt bad so so invited them in. They played cribbage, ate tons of food and she invited them to sleep on the couch. She learned that the PCT hikers are wonderful people. She started taking their pictures and had them sign a little register in her house. She never specifically asked for donations, but she would find money hidden around the house for her. She really had a lot of fun.

She decided to do it again this year. She removes her phone number from the trail when she doesn't want to be bothered. She only has people come over to her house that she invites. But she seems to invite everybody.

Today she sent me a link to pictures she has taken of the hikers she's met so far. Some of them she's only driven to and from the trailhead and others stayed over at her house. Looking at all the pictures fills me with melancholy for a world I'm not a part of right now. The trail is a whole little community, a special world. I miss it!

Here are her pictures.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wide Chacos don't work for me without modifications

I've got these wide Chaco sandals. The wide part, the footbed part, fits really well. My regular width Chacos gave me nasty blisters on my heels because the heel cup was too narrow. I had to slice the heel cup with an exacto to make them fit. My new wide Chacos don't have that problem.

My new wide Chacos also are the kind that don't have the toe loop. That is much better. My old Chacos have the toe loop. I've given up on the toe loop and have flattened it, but I can still feel it under my foot. It's not that bad to feel it, but the rest of the strap is too long and I've had to sew it shorter to compensate. Also, I can't adjust the straps very well with the toe loop flattened.

The trouble with the new wide Chacos is the straps don't feel like they are placed properly and they are much too long. They ride too high on my ankle in front and rub my ankles raw. I've tried everything to try to fix this and finally resolved it by wrapping elastic bands around the buckles to attach the buckle to the middle strap so that it won't ride so high. I've also adjusted the straps so the buckles ride far to the inside of my foot and sewn the excess length on the outside edges to take up the slack. The middle strap still rubs painfully across the top of my foot. It's like it hits a nerve or sensitive area. Nothing seems to fix it. It's like the straps are just placed all wrong.

Today I tried sewing some fake sheepskin strips to the undersides of the straps to see if that cushions the pain. It seemed to help. I don't need the elastic bands anymore at least. I may try getting some real sheepskin and sewing that to the undersides of the straps. Real sheepskin will stay cushy and soft longer. I might rip out the sewing I did to take up the slack and let the sheepskin take up the slack instead. They had real sheepskin pieces at Art from Scrap.

I would return the sandals but the footbed part just feels so good. Tevas don't do it for me. Their footbed isn't the same, doesn't feel as good. I can hike in the Chacos. I hiked 15 miles or so the other day in them and felt great all day. I just have to do a lot of mods to them to work.

Hosting troubles fixed, I hope

My hosting troubles are over. I hope. The switch was really easy and happened really quickly. I registered, moved my files, downloaded my SQL from my old site, imported it into my new site and voila! Everything worked. The nameservers took only hours, too. My email client works without anything more than updating the password.

After the DNS change, I searched for a way to contact my old host. Their site is like a ghost ship. Most of the links do not work. There's nothing in the knowledge base. Nothing in the forums. I found an email with a link to log in to a secure area for updating my credit card info. I put in a fake credit card number. I found an address in there and wrote a letter and sent it via snail mail to officially cancel my service. I attempted to use their system to send an email but it bounced. If I owe them any money, let them send me a letter via snail mail and then I'll have their real contact information, if it exists.

How did it come to this? When I signed up they were great. I could call their sales line and get the same guy that did the tech support. He would help me instantly right over the phone. I guess he sold his company to someone else. It almost seems like this company wants people to leave.

Let's hope my efforts were good enough to be done with it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Host troubles

I bumped my bandwidth yesterday and still was getting bandwidth errors today. Something was definitely wrong. I have had over 4 million good hits and over 3 million failed hits to my site. That's absurd.

I tried to call my hosting company to see if they could help me figure out what was happening, but their phone didn't seem to work. It didn't even ring.

So I decided I would just go switch hosting companies. I signed up, transferred files and within minutes the name server on one of my sites updated. My hiking site is still in limbo waiting for the nameserver. But I think it's going to work smoothly. I will have unlimited bandwidth and unlimited disk space. And it's cheaper per month.

Since I can't even call my old hosting company, I have no idea how I'm going to cancel except to go in to the admin panel where I store my credit card and just remove the number. Let them try to contact me.

No more summer

Summer went away again. We had a week of nice hot sunny summertime weather. You could sit outside in the evening. I could go to work without wearing a jacket (carrying one however for the infernal air conditioning.) I could even ride my scooter with a light jacket.

No more. Summer went away again behind the fog. Once again I have to turn the lights on in the morning, I shiver under my down blanket on the couch and I have to zip my down jacket all the way up on my walk to work. At least I don't have to wear a jacket inside the office since this weather makes them turn on the heater.

I can't wait to get out of here and go hiking next week in the summertime.

Was I a victim of nefarious web use?

I had a sudden realization that maybe my hiking site had gained a surge in popularity because I had a page that nefarious evil people could abuse. So I turned that page into a trap for the evil ones and retired it for the good guys. But a search through my logs shows no abuse to that page. So the surge in popularity must have resulted from being written about in the Snooze Repressed.

I rarely look at my logs, but when I do I find them interesting. Firefox wins over Internet Explorer these days. With Firefox and Safari combined, Internet Explorer is just a small fraction.

People like 7 falls. They search for it all the time.

Evil people attempt to get into my log stats. I don't publish them so I am very annoyed. Looks like evil robots have learned how to find URLs within javascript code. I get a lot of 404 errors from that.

Monday, July 19, 2010

My web site is too popular all of a sudden

My hiking web site went down. I ran out of bandwidth. This is the earliest in a month that I have ever run out of bandwidth. Why is my site so popular all of a sudden?

Last Monday there was an article in the local newspaper about hiking and my web site was mentioned. But I thought nobody subscribes to that newspaper anymore since the big meltdown in 2006 when they fired everybody for not allowing management to meddle in the news and then kept firing them for union organizing.

I did a google search on the word hiking and my site turned up number 4 on the first page, right below Backpacker.com. How the heck did that happen? My site isn't about hiking the world, it's just about hiking in my little town.

It appears I was visited by a lot of robots yesterday, but the amount of bandwidth used, according to my stats, is less so far this month than it was for the entire month of May, so I do not understand how I ran out of bandwidth. I disallowed some unknown robots so we'll see if that helps.

I went in to my control panel and bumped up the bandwidth hoping that would restore my site. I pay a certain amount each month for a certain amount of bandwidth. Every now and then I've gone in and bumped up the bandwidth when it's come close to running out, bumping it over my allotment. I've never been asked to pay more. I set it to the maximum the form would allow and my site returned. I hope that helps.

Every now and then, and much more frequently lately, I get emails from people wanting to buy ads on my site. I responded to one of them one time. They wanted to advertise some store that sold really heavy gear, none of it was really backpacking gear, just heavy outdoors stuff maybe hunters would buy. I said no thank you and have been throwing out all the requests ever since. I kind of don't want portions of my site to feel owned by anybody, but also, I simply don't know what the advertising is worth. Perhaps it is time to give it a try. I just need a consultant to tell me how to do it.

Oh god, now I'm screwed. I'm sure I'll get hammered with spam for even mentioning such a thing.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Anti-plastic pollution poster on a reusable bag

Anti-plastic pollution poster on a reusable bagI suppose people are going to think I'm a whackjob when I shop the aisles of my favorite healthfood stores sporting my own personal environmental statement. We'll see if anybody even notices.

I created my anti-plastic poster and put my "poster" on my reusable grocery bag. I found printable fabric. You just put the fabric in the printer, then after a little processing with an iron to fix the ink, sew the fabric to whatever you want. It is expensive. I ruined one sheet. I have one sheet remaining.

A trip to the farmers market

I found a new use for plastic bags, a new way to reuse them. Even though I try to avoid getting plastic bags, The Man does not, so they continue to accumulate. I bring the used produce bags with me and reuse them. That's one way to reuse them. But sometimes I do not need a bag for my produce so I put my produce in a bag and have the guy weigh my produce to calculate the price, then I take it out of the bag and continue on, using my bag over and over just for weighing things.

Today I went to the farmers market and bought some soap made from olive oil. Smells like lavender. It does not come wrapped in plastic. Just a little piece of cardboard around the outside.

I bought some jojoba oil in a small glass bottle. I've wanted to try it on my skin for a long time. It has a very light consistency. Sometimes I use some other oil, I think it is almond, but it is too heavy and my clothes begin to smell like rancid oil, even after washing them, if I use it daily. I'm hoping the jojoba is better. It grows natively in the Colorado Desert near Joshua Tree and that's where the farm that grows it is from.

I have a box made of woven palm that I bring with me to the market now. The box originally had some corporate gift in it from one of the big companies I used to work for. I've been saving it for a long time thinking someday I'll find a use for it. I finally figured out a good use. I put my peaches or other precious fruit in the box. That helps me get it home without as much damage.

The farmers market has valet parking for your bicycle. I used it today. In the past I would look for a palm tree skinny enough to lock my bike up, but sometimes I wouldn't be able to find one. The valet parking really helps. There are no bike racks because the market is held in parking lot that normally doesn't need any bike parking.

I enjoy the farmers market but the food is very expensive. Last time I went, fresh figs were $4 a basket. That was too much so I didn't buy any. This week they were $5 a basket. Yikes! Most of the produce is a lot more expensive than regular stores, but the peaches taste like peaches (at least if you pick the good farmers that grow peaches made for eating, not for shipping) and the tomatoes taste like tomatoes. The chicken tastes like chicken, too, which makes no sense until you've tried one.

This afternoon I will be playing my fiddle with the Glendessary Jam in a park near the Old Mission. They don't have enough fiddle players and are feeling desperate enough that even I will be not just welcomed (which I always am) but almost begged for. That's desperate!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Backpacking trips coming up

Wow, the sun came out yesterday and it's out again today! Maybe summer has arrived for a few days. I really notice how much shorter the days are already. Last time I saw the sun in the evening, it seemed to last much later.

I asked for some time off. I'll be taking a little time off at the end of this month to head up to Nor Cal. Hope to do a little hiking on the PCT. Maybe from Bucks Summit to Highway 36. I can't seem to get The Man fired up about it. Oh well, if he doesn't want to go then whatever. I really hate a life not lived, which is how I feel most days are lately.

Then I will take off a week in August to go hike the Evolution Valley.

I found a good picture of a bird with plastic in its belly. I had this idea to print it on transfer paper and iron it on to a piece of fabric to sew on to my reusable shopping bag. There's not much messaging on it in the hopes somebody will ask me a question. Or I might just put more information on it and print it on paper and tack it up on trailheads. I need a picture of a turtle eating a plastic bag for the trails, I think, because of all the plastic dog poop bags people leave on the trails. There's a lot more of that on the trails than what's in the poor bird's belly.

I feel a little uncomfortable doing anything activist-like. I have a friend who is an in-your-face kind of activist and has no shame about it and while it can be annoying, I have to respect him. I usually just keep quiet. Like when my boss was joking about how these frogs in California are going to have some habitat set aside for several million dollars. He thought they should all just die because that's evolution. I hate hearing people say things like that because those people are very childish. Their whole lives exists in a state of infantile gratification. They're going to dismantle the ecosystem of the Earth before they can die off. That's not evolution. It's greed and hubris. But I said nothing.

I certainly can't change the minds of people like that, but maybe I can show people who already care that the lefty health food store is full of environmentally dangerous products and more choices have to be made than just where you shop. It doesn't help the environment to drive your Prius to Trader Joes and fill up your cart with olive oil from France and individually plastic-wrapped potatoes from god knows where.

It's all pretty futile I'm sure.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A year later - still not easy

A year ago I was hiking the PCT. I was just about to arrive in Ashland. I was at the peak of happiness, loving every minute of the experience, feeling that I was doing the right thing with my life, the thing that gave my life purpose.

A year later it is still hard to adjust being back in civilization. I don't know if I'll ever adjust. Nothing about "real" life is real enough. It's so pointless sometimes and I find myself wasting my time away just waiting. Waiting for time to pass.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Did a big loopish hike today

I went on a nice hike today. The Man and I went up San Ysidro, over the top of the Santa Ynez mountains and down to Forbush Flat. The return trip was down the Cold Springs Trail to the Hot Springs Trail to the Bud Girard Trail to the McMenemy Trail and back to San Ysidro Trail.

We rose out of the fog. There were gorgeous summer clouds in the sky. The air was clear and we could see deep into the wilderness. I could imagine that just over the farthest mountain crests you'd be able to see the Sierra Nevada. We talked about hiking all the way to the Sierra from here.

The flies were awful. Biting flies and little annoying flies. It was hot and humid back there. I loved the heat and humidity but not the flies.

There were lots of summer flowers still blooming. Lots of mariposa lilies, the fuzzy red and yellow kind, and lots of heart-leaved penstemon and scarlet larkspur. We took a lot of pictures of the flowers.

Coming back down, as we descended, the fog had moved to just along the coast. The clouds above had thickened a bit. It became cooler and more comfortable as we descended. Someone was putting in a tarp to fill up the hot spring, otherwise there were no pools.

We stopped at Blenders and got smoothies. I wondered if I could find a big 24 ounce cup and a glass straw to use instead of their foam cups next time. Keep it in the car since the only time I ever get a smoothie is when I'm with The Man.

The best part of the day was the clouds. We so seldom get summer storm clouds and humidity.

Friday, July 09, 2010

I'm looking for a good plastic pollution poster

I want to find posters I can put up on trailheads and near the beach that show the effects of plastic pollution, but I can't find any. I have "ads" on my hiking web site that I made myself, but I have been wanting to do something more to get the word out. I can't find any good posters. All I can find are wordy brochures and movies. The few posters I've found are really stupid. I may make my own poster if I can find a good picture to use.

I don't think anybody really wants to hurt living creatures like this. Well, I do have my doubts about the super wealthy executives of the industries who make this stuff and the other hangers-on who attach their own less lofty fortunes to theirs, but everybody knows you have to kill the little living part of your heart in order to reach that point. Anyway, here's a movie showing what is inside a dead baby albatross on Midway island.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

A tiny break in the fog brings joy to all

The sun burst forth late in the evening yesterday. I went to the park to play my fiddle with the Glendessary Jam. There was a huge turnout. Everyone was so happy. It was warm and beautiful. We played tunes in the key of G which for some reason seem to be really fun and full of variation.

The park was full of people. A group was belly dancing. A couple was getting married in the gazebo. Baby ducklings were bobbing in the pond. People would come by to hear the music and dance. I didn't wear a down jacket. Ah, this is what summer is supposed to be like.

Of course the fog was rolling back in before the music was over. I could feel the cold wind. My fingers were getting cold and stiff. I went home, having enjoyed a brief moment of happiness. It's another gray day today. Back to my down, back to the gloom, back to barely feeling alive.

Monday, July 05, 2010

I'm going to kill myself if I don't see the sun

I woke up this morning feeling like I've slipped down a hole into a depression. A gray depression of inactivity and barely aliveness. I hate Santa Barbara.

First we have Graypril. Then May Gray, June Gloom and July Gray Sky. Next comes the month of Fogust and finally Weptember. Weptember is when everyone weeps because they didn't get a summer. Watch out for Fogtober and Nosunber. Rejoice when December, January and February return bringing sunshine and climate-envy to us for a brief window we call spring.

I decided I would force myself to go for a hike today even in the cold gray. I suited up in a pair of hiking pants and a long-sleeved shirt and my new, wide Chacos, which I've managed to make fit properly with a needle and thread. The Man and I decided to go out for breakfast on the way to the trail, so I grabbed my down jacket since we like to eat out on the porch in hopes of pretending like we don't live in a near permanent haze of suicidal cloud-cover. How I hate this place that robs me of a decent morning.

We decided to drive out of the funk over the mountains and into summer. It took about an hour of hiking before I felt like I was starting to break out of the fog in my head. It was warm, 82 degrees or so and the sun was bright. I hiked through what PCT hikers call desert, but it was really just the waning days of a long, late spring in chaparral country.

We did a 14 mile hike to a 4000ft mountain, stopping short of the summit so we could eat lunch in the shade. Humming birds would hover right in front of our faces.

On the way up and on the return trip we stopped at the cattle trough spring to cool off in the water. It felt good to be hot and to cool off, too.

Once at the trailhead again, we decided to stop for a cold drink at a country store to postpone returning to the heavy blanket of coldness. Since we could no longer see the clouds licking the edges of our summer valley, there was hope we'd return to a sunny afternoon on the coast. No such luck. We drove back into the land that summer forgot. Not a drop of sunshine found its way through the suffocating clouds today.

And thus ends a disappointing holiday weekend where I wore down jackets daily and sat under down blankets in the evenings.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

What do I do about my hair?

I don't know what to do about my hair. My hair is very long. I can almost tuck it into my pants.

My long hair clogs my tub. I have a little metal screen over the drain so that my hair doesn't cause huge plumbing problems, but the little metal screen clogs every time I take a shower so every shower I take I end up standing in a few inches of dirty water.

Long hairs collect all over the floor. Not just in the bathroom where I can sweep them into huge possum-sized blobs, but all over the house which is mostly carpeted. Every time I try to vacuum the floor (which admittedly is not very frequently), I break the vacuum cleaner. My hair jams the roller which seizes the belt and then it smells like it's burning up. If I don't stop the vacuum, the motor will burn up or it will burn up the carpet. So when I vacuum the house I have to use a shop vac.

Vacuuming with a shop vac is horrible. It's like scrubbing the floor with a toothbrush. I scrape the nozzle over the floor and vacuum a few inches at a time. It's backbreaking. My hair sometimes gets stuck in the vacuum. Not the hair on the floor but the hair on my head gets stuck in the crack where the nozzle pieces link together. This hurts. So I decided not to vacuum anymore. If The Man wants a clean floor (and apparently he doesn't) he can break the vacuum or his back. We really ought to have wood or tile floors anyway.

So in a fit of getting tired of living in a pig sty, I thought maybe I should vacuum and then get a hair cut. So I figured I better decide how to cut it.

I pulled out a pony tail holder and put it on loosely to get a sense of what I might look like with shorter hair. Since it has taken about a decade to grow it to this length, I'm a lot older than I was the last time my hair was short.

With ear-length hair I look fat and old. My hair is missing. All I have is a big ugly saggy face.

With a chin-length bob, I look like a middle-aged woman who works in an office. It was alarming.

I gradually let out the pony tail holder until I got to a length that didn't make me look like I was on the way to the office and ended up with hair a little longer than my clavicles. It looked better but it looked too artificial. I looked too perfect. Like being an image of a woman, like being in drag.

I let my hair all the way out and it cascaded down to my waste. I looked like my granola crunchy self again. I felt much better.

So I gave up on the idea of cutting my hair today and pulled out the shop vac, resigned to my fate.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Using my homemade mosquito net with a tarp

My homemade mosquito net tent works well with my 8x10 tarp. It does not work with my poncho. The poncho has velcro on it so I don't even want to get near my gossamer cocoon with it. But even without the velcro, it's just not the right size or shape to work with the poncho.

Because of the way I made the edges around the bottom, I can use stones instead of stakes, which is nice. That means I don't have to carry extra stakes if I need to use the tarp to form a roof. Since the tarp can only be set up one way using the net, there is no room for creativity and I can leave extra guy lines home, too.

The weight for the tarp plus mosquito net compared to my tent is heavier. But I can sleep without a roof now without worrying about mosquitoes. So for a few extra ounces I think it might be worth it to sleep peacefully under the stars. Since it is summer, I can leave home other things when using the mosquito net so it will all even out.

Now I need to make an esbit stove.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Homemade mosquito net tent

mosquito net tent I sewed my own mosquito net tent.

It was not easy to sew. The netting would get stuck in the sewing machine foot. It's mosquito netting, not no-see-um netting, so it had holes big enough for a sewing machine foot to find its way in. I figure it should be sufficient for the kinds of bugs I usually experience in my area, which is mostly mosquitoes and flies.

There's no door. I could not figure out how to make a door. The netting is not strong enough to sew a zipper directly into it. If I ever figure out a way to add a door, I may add one later. For now, it's easy enough to just crawl under one of the long sides.

It's quite light, but without a sensitive scale, I'm not sure how much it weighs. With the two lines attached, tt feels to weigh about the same as my Equinox bivy, which is listed at 6.5 ounces. I don't mind that it is white. I used to sleep under a mosquito net tent that I bought in a travel store that was made to go on top of your bed in a tropical hotel room. That sucker weighed a pound. It was white, too, and I could see the stars through it at night just fine.

When I first met The Man we did a little backpacking together and one thing I used to like to do was get inside my mosquito net tent and just lay out naked and enjoy the air free from the flies that plague our backcountry. One time I did that while he was out cutting brush on the trail. When he returned to camp, he was surprised to see me. He told me I looked like a beautiful maiden in a gossamer cocoon.

In warm summer months I sometimes feel sad that I am stuck inside my tent without the ability to see the stars. I've tried just using a headnet but if the night is warm, it is too hot to be confined to my sleeping bag. I about died of heat in Seiad Valley when I tried to sleep without a tent and just a head net. I needed to stick arms or legs out but mosquitoes were biting. Having a full-sized mosquito net tent like this means that I can sleep outside of my sleeping bag on warm nights without worrying about mosquitoes.

I may give this a try on my up-coming hike in the Sierras. I'll bring either my poncho or my big 8x10 tarp in case of rain. I have to try the poncho and the tarp to see which one I can actually set up with my mosquito net tent.

Single-use doesn't have to be

I have a plastic shower cap that I got in a hotel once. These are supposed to be single-use, disposable. I've been using it for more than a year.