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RE: Hammock Camping Byer hammock trial and Manitou TR

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  • Ed Speer
    Enjoyed reading your report Steve--certainly makes me jealous, maybe someday I ll get up there...Ed ... From: Steve McBride [mailto:drsm@direcway.com] Sent:
    Message 1 of 3 , May 6, 2003
      Enjoyed reading your report Steve--certainly makes me jealous, maybe someday I'll get up there...Ed
      -----Original Message-----
      From: Steve McBride [mailto:drsm@...]
      Sent: Monday, May 05, 2003 9:26 PM
      To: hammockcamping@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Hammock Camping Byer hammock trial and Manitou TR

      North Manitou Island, May 2-4, 2003

      In what has become an annual outing, my wife and I headed to Leland early Friday morning to catch the ferry to the island. The trip over proved to be a bit rough as a strong northeast wind kicked up some hefty swells. Two unfortunate passengers were overcome with a bout of seasickness. Fortunately, a new engine on the ferry allowed the crossing to be made in just under an hour (down from the 75-90 minutes it used to take). The skies remained clear all weekend which made for beautiful days and cold nights.

      This year we did more in-depth exploration of the southeast side of the island, opting to learn more of the intimate details of the island in preference to covering mileage. We were pleased to see that some of the buildings on the island are being renovated. Bourniques' home is one of the more interesting structures, and it looks like it is receiving a lot of care. We explored the homestead there, finding more structures that we hadn't seen on previous trips. We searched for the north end of the Miller Road Trail and found it, although we didn't know for sure at the time--the trail was heavily obstructed by downfalls.

      Camp the first night was set up in a field south of Bourniques' that provided great cushioning and early exposure to the morning sun. Water collection that evening was painful, as we were forced to wade out to knee level to avoid the sand being stirred up by the wave action. The waves managed to get us wet to the waist level. After drying out and warming up, we gave the hammocks a try. We had brought along a couple Byer nylon hammocks to try a cheap introduction to hammock sleeping. They were quite comfortable, but as the temperatures dropped into the 40's, the cold started to penetrate from underneath. We retreated to our bivys on the ground. My little thermometer showed the temperatures dropped below 20° F. that night! There was a hard frost everywhere, and our water froze. My Nunatuk Arc Alpinist got tested mightily, and I was glad I had most of the clothes I brought on underneath it. Our only visitor in camp that night was a large deer I spotted during a late night bathroom break--interestingly, I didn't notice it until I was climbing back into my bivy. Apparently it didn't care when I got out and walked off and back again. We slept late the next morning, waiting for the sun to melt the frost on our bivys and warm the air a little.

      Saturday we hiked around the southeast corner of the island, skirting the closed Piping Plover nesting area on Dimmick's Point, to Miller's Beach. After some searching, we located the southern end of Miller's Road trail and took it north, confirming that we had located the northern end the prior day. The trail was actually more of an obstacle course, and I suspect it will be completely gone in a couple more years. We camped that night south of the old apple orchard on the eastern shore of the island. Water collection was easier due to the cobblestone shoreline--we didn't need to wade out far, and the waves were almost non-existent. The hammocks got a second trial at this site. This time we added our sleeping pads, which kept them comfortable to the low 40's. I use a 3/4 length RidgeRest, and found it a little narrow for the hammock--my arms would get cold if I was lying on my back. I also found the pad cumbersome to manipulate under me when changing position. Is this a problem with the HH too? We watched the reflected colors of the sunset off the dunes on the mainland and a pair of loons playing in the water. The temperatures only dropped to the low 30's that night, with no wind, but we slept comfortably cocooned in our bivys.

      The trip back to the mainland was about as smooth as possible. Lake Michigan was unusually calm. All-in-all a fun trip!
      Thanks to those of you who have provided advice on trying a hammock. Finding sites for the hammocks was no problem--even locating spots where we could hang both in close proximity for easy conversation. Had the weather been no cooler than the 50's, I think sleeping in them would have worked well. They certainly are comfortable.
      Steve M

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