A few weeks ago, Scott and I went on our 2nd shakeout hike of the season. We wanted to test our new gear, including my new 1-woman tent (an MSR Hubba NX), a new water filter (Sawyer mini), and a borrowed hammock from our friend Alex, to test the concept of hammock camping. We chose a shorter trip close to home, at Big Basin Redwoods State Park. We had thought the backcountry in the Santa Cruz Mountains was all closed for the winter (November through April) but it turns out that they’re experimenting with keeping a few trail camps open, so we chose to hike to Lane Trail Camp, about 6 miles from Big Basin Headquarters.
We started with all the Saturday tourists at Big Basin, where we’ve hiked a number of times before. We apparently looked like we knew what we were doing, what with the large backpacks and all, and gave a number of people directions along our hike out.
We hiked a few miles in before stopping for lunch. It had occurred to me that we could actually take real food on the first day, rather than tortillas and salami, so we bought deli sandwiched from Zoccolli’s that morning. Hit the spot!
We hiked along a fairly flat section of Skyline-to-the-Sea (which we hiked in its entirety last summer), before climbing up to the ridge line above Big Basin, where we got some great panoramic views.
The flowering trees are beautiful this time of year.
We were the first people to arrive at Lane Trail Camp that night (I guess February isn’t peak season, with temperatures forecasted to get into the thirties at night). We picked the primo campsite of the 6 available sites, which had lots of trees for hanging our hammocks and some logs for sitting and cooking. (In fact, only 1 other group showed up that evening).
We started putting together our sleeping shelters (my tent and Scott’s borrowed hammock) for the first time!
My glorious new tent:
Scott took a little longer to put up his hammock. I think he put it up and took it back down twice before he got it up to his satisfaction!
But once he was inside, he looked pretty happy!
For dinner we had a new flavor of Good-To-Go meals — Classic Marinara with Penne — which was excellent! It had been the flavor I was least excited about, but would definitely buy again.
After dinner, we broke out the whiskey and stayed up “late” (10pm?) chatting.
I woke up before Scott the next morning and read my Kindle while hanging out in our lounging hammock. It was cold in there until I moved my thermarest into the hammock.
Scott also got some lounging time, while eating his oatmeal. Scott is still not sold on sleeping dangling several feet off the ground from some trees (frankly it sounds terrible to me) but we’re DEFINITELY sold on bringing along a lounging hammock for short trips where weight isn’t an issue. SO AWESOME for chilling around the camp.
On the way out we found some relics of the old industrial uses of the Santa Cruz mountains. In this case, an old shingle mill!
Overall we had a great little backpack, tested our new gear (my tent: win!, Scott’s hammock: maybe?, lounging hammock: YES!, new water filter: slow, but passable — and light).
Also in gear news — I’ve also decided from these two chilly hikes to fork over the cash for a warmer sleeping system: an Enlightened Equipment Revelation quilt. Will be custom-made for me and arrive sometime around late April!
- Distance: ~11.6 miles (over 2 days)
- Elevation gain: 1500 feet
- Highest elevation: 2300 feet