Saturday, May 18, 2013

Section Hike and Bivy Modification Updates

I recently completed a two and a half day section hike on Bohusleden and will soon write trip reports/trail guides to six full sections of the trail.  The trip was originally planned as a five day trip, but when I called to say goodnight to my children and check up with my wife on news back home, I was unfortunately given some rather bad news that forced me to cut my trip short.  

A couple that my wife and I are good friends with, and that our kids are also friends with their kids, had to rush to the hospital with one of their children in a serious life-or-death medical situation.  The next morning I packed up my gear and then hitchhiked my way to the nearest train station so that my family and I could visit our friends in the hospital.  The child has been stabilized and seems to be on the road to recovery, thankfully, by the time we got to see her and her mother.  I was glad to coincidentally have been close to the end of a section of trail that also ended directly next to a highway, and didn't even think twice about getting back to be there in a time of need.

Yet before all this drama, I was able to document a solid portion of the trail on my quest to complete a full companion trail guide.  

I noticed in planning my trip before I hit the trail that two sections (18 and 17) entirely follow paved or dirt roads, fully accessible by car.  After taking a look at some of the locations of this part of Bohusleden on Google maps, and also being told by a few backpackers I met doing other parts of the trail, I became convinced that these two sections were not exactly the most scenic or fun ones to hike.  So I decided to have my wife drive me out there and follow these trails to take some pictures, and if I was wrong and things seemed good to hike, I could always just stop the car and enjoy the hike.

My speculations were proven accurate, however, and I am happy that I chose to effectively skip over these two boring and inconvenient parts of the trail.  I will still include them in my trail guide of course, and offer advice on how to skip over these sections.  When the trail finally went back through the woods, I was dropped off and began an excellent 55km hike over two days.

If you read my last post that covered my updated gear list for the late spring to early fall of my backpacking season, you noticed a lot of issues surrounding my shelter system.  At first I had intended to use a tarp/bivy combination, but after testing my new Cuben Borah bivy out, I found that it created too much condensation inside the bivy for me to include it in my gear list.  I tentatively replaced it with a Zpacks bug net that goes with my Zpacks solo tarp, but the whole time debated myself back and fourth about somehow sticking to the tarp/bivy combo--I simply like what this combo has to offer so much, that I was determined to somehow work out a solution.  

As luck would have it, visiting a family member, I noticed they had some net fabric laying around their home: a synthetic window curtain they didn't need.  This family member was nice enough to give me this curtain, which I then handed over along with my bivy to a friend of mine that is a professional seamstress who was nice enough to offer her help in modifying this key piece of gear.

Here is the end result:

I was concerned that perhaps the vent didn't go far enough down the bivy, as in the past I with another bivy I noticed the most condensation was in the foot box.  However I am happy to report after two nights of testing on the trail, there was not a single drop of condensation inside my bivy after either night of full, very cozy and comfortable sleep.  The M50 material does breath, just very poorly, so by adding this vent, I think I have effectively nullified the issue of condensation.  Granted more testing should be done to see how effective this vent is--and I plan on putting this bivy to the test plenty, as I am very pleased with it after this modification.  

Here's a few more pictures of it in action inside of a really nice trail shelter I had all to myself on my second night out:

No bugs, no critters, wind protection (most trail shelters I have encountered here have 3 walls or a large doorway), and no need to set up my tarp.  Final weight after the mod and with stuff sack is 133g, which brings my total fully enclosed shelter system up to only 353g for tarp, guy lines, tent stakes, bivy, and ground cover.  :)

Coming soon will be the section trip reports, and on this trip I took lots of pictures.  Overall very impressed with the sections I actually hiked, though it is a shame that a few sections are pretty much just walking on roads for long time.  Over the summer I plan on going back to where I left off and hiking the rest of the trail, and really looking forward to it.

Thanks for reading and hope that you are having adventures of your own this season.