Testing a tarp and bivvy bag.
Chatting to Iain about his preparation for his TGO challange, I got thinking about how the things I enjoy are pushed to one side to make time for the things that need to be done. So I thought it was time to do something about this and bought a Rig 3.5 tarp and a Hunka XL bivvy bag from alpkit. Then the weather closed down and it was not really suitable for a tarp and bivvy outing. At last the weather and my commitments allowed me to head off into the Murishiel country park. The last time I headed this way, my chosen campsite was next to a stream in a steep sided valley. It was dark by mid afternoon and there was no view! With the tarp & bivvy, a view was important. Hiked to the top of the hills and then headed north. In the same direction as the wind was coming from and it was icy cold. Took a while to find a spot that was not too wind swept and with a good view.
Along the way I surprised a ewe and her two lambs. She got up and ran off with one of the lambs, but the other was sound asleep! As I passed it woke up, saw me and decided the safest place was between my feet. I tried to walk but the lamb made progress very difficult as I did not want to step on its leg and hurt it. Eventually I sat down and it stayed with me for a while until I got my camera out to take a photo and it ran off to find mum. I took this opportunity to carry on my way.
The tarp pitched easily considering the wind and I pitched it with the windward edge against the ground to try and block as much of the icy cold blast as possible. I was really glad that I had brought my down jacket as it did a fantastic job of keeping away the cold wind. Then set about drinking tea, eating noodles and reading a book with the stunning view of the Firth of Clyde. As the sun set, I settled into the bivvy bag with my golite down summer blanket. I was not warm, I was perhaps little optimistic on the start of summer. So much so that I had not even brought the fleece liner! No matter how I lay, there were cold patches. It was going to be a long night.
At some point I fell asleep because I woke up about 0100 and it was freezing! Checked my phone and the temperature was showing 1°C! My blanket is only rated for 5°C-8°C. But, as I was in a tarp, I could see the night sky and it was full of stars. The milky way visible and the discomfort of the cold was soon forgotten with the splendor of the night sky. Soon tiredness crept back and I fell asleep under the stars until dawn.
Woke up pretty much at first light, made some tea and then packed up and headed home. It was far too cold for the gear I was carrying! I arrived home just in time for breakfast with my family followed by a hot bath to try and restore some heat! And some ribbing for my early return ;)
And thoughts on the gear? Was impressed with both. There was some condensation in the bivvy bag, but that may have been a result of me burying myself in it to try and retain some warmth. And the tarp was fine, it went up, stayed up and packed away at the end. Couldn't ask for more. Now I just need to learn some of the pitching options!
Update [24 Sept 2014]
Chatting to Iain about the trap test trip and the icy cold wind, he asked me why I did not sleep in the warm down jacket I had with me. I have yet to find an answer to that. No it has been pointed out, it makes sense! ^blush^