December 21st 2013
I was looking for an easy way to test my Winter gear and Doctari suggested we just go to Caesar Creek. My regular hiking partner is my son, Justin. We ended up camping on his 13th Birthday.
We both live near Cincinnati and Caesar Creek is close. I don't really think of it as a hiking destination because it's kinda hard to get longer miles in and technically you're only supposed to camp at the approved car camping sites. Doctari showed me some nice mountain biking trails that made for a good overnight hike. I'll also add there were many good places to stealth camp.
While the goal was to Winter test my gear on the first day of Winter, the weather didn't quite cooperate. It was quite warm. I don't think it dropped any lower than 50°F. However, it did rain like cats and dogs both during the hike and overnight. In fact, we had flash flood warnings.
So it's pouring down rain and we come to a stream crossing. It's clearly above our boots, neither Doctari nor I were excited to soak our feet. We hadn't hiked much, but Doctari suggested we take a break. He set up his "palace" tarp to get out of the rain. We fired up our respective stoves and did some cooking. I'd never seen someone else's alcohol stove in action, so that was neat.
After the rain stopped, we hiked around the gully where the swollen stream. After a couple more hours of hiking (and if you know Doctari, much story telling) we came to another swollen stream that was more like a river. Our intention was to camp lower down in the gully, but the flood danger was a little too concerning. So, we hiked up to higher ground.
Hard to say for sure, but seems like the joke was on us. The rain was mostly done, but the winds that night were considerable. It sounded like a freight train going through our camp all night. Overall, we slept warm and dry. About midnight I had to crawl out and tighten down my son and my tarp lines. After that it was pretty smooth sailing the rest of the night.
Overall, I learned quite a bit this weekend. We stayed dry, but my son needs better insulation. We also need more practice with our gear; particularly our stoves. My son and I both have Hennessy hammocks. I'm giving serious consideration to simplifying the suspension and separating the tarp from the hammock. It was very wet conditions. I'm not sure we were prepared to handle wet gear. Our gear didn't quite fit in our packs very well. Sleeping bags and my son's CCF pad were strapped on the outside awkwardly.
As far as gear goes, I had a Warbonnet Yeti underquilt. Justin slept with a Thermarest CCF pad in his hammock. We both were sleeping in a cheap, Costco sleeping back.
I'm super thankful Doctari was willing to take us out for a training run. He's a great hiking partner if you get a chance to head out with him.