Jul 14 2011

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A Night in the Woods

Posted at 7:56 am under Blog Post

Every once in a while I get the urge to spend a night in the woods – not a night in a tent, but in the woods.  A tarp set-up is a good way to do that.

It takes longer to set up a tarp than it does to set up a tent.  In order to shed rain, the tarp has to be angled just right.  Even if I set it up right, it’s not easy to access.  Sometimes, when I’m tired, it’s a real annoyance.  But it’s always worth it in the end.

During the buggy summer months, I fashion a mosquito bar beneath the tarp.  This takes even more time and energy.  Matika has learned to wait for me to get situated before she joins me inside the netting.  Smart dog.

I use a set of aluminum tent poles to hold up the high end of the tarp, but my walking stick is often a part of the rig.  That way I only need one tree to anchor down my set-up.

Flat, well-drained ground is essential, of course, but I often choose a spot for its aesthetic value.  I like to wake up with a patch of wildflowers, the nearby stream, or moss-covered blowdown in full view.  Last night I enjoyed all three.

Granted, a tent provides better protection from wind and rain, but there are few things more pleasant than having your brow caressed by a gentle breeze in the middle of the night.  And when the moon rises, you know it right away.  Same goes for nocturnal animals.  I’ve seen a lot of creatures this way that I’d never see otherwise.

Predawn is the best part.  I’m a morning person so I like to catch the first light.  Sometimes I stay in my sleeping bag, listening to songbirds as daybreak transpires.  I’m almost always up before the sun breaks through the trees.

Yeah, when I want to get intimate with the wild, a night beneath my tarp is the way to go.  To most people, it seems impractical and insecure.  But don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.  Short of sleeping with no cover at all, it’s the best way I know to be in the woods.

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