It was delightfully coincident that Rivendell’s recent email blast discussed “fending off hedonic adaptation”. It was a sort of philosophical pondering about why some of us sometimes take the not-most-convenient path and endure being wet and cold from sleeping outside. I had decided to grab an (less than ideal) opportunity on Christmas eve 2014 to ride a bicycle to the woods and sleep outside. I wasn’t trying to make any sort of philosophical statement. I just wanted to sacrifice a few conveniences so that I might have access to other enjoyable things.
Although I left work a little earlier than normal, even with the monster tailwind, I didn’t have much evening light. I quickly set up the hammock, grabbed my supper, and walked down to the lake shore. I was already too late to see the sunset, and ate as temperature dropped with the disappearing daylight.
There was only the slightest sliver of moon, and it was rapidly dark. I didn’t have time to assemble firewood. The chilly air nudged me into the hammock early with resignation that it would be a very long, cold (given my mild weather camping gear) night. At first, I was frankly a little bored lying there in the dark with nothing to do. Before long, however, I found myself listening to the leaves, my tarp flapping, and the surrounding night sounds. About the time contentment came, what sounded like thousands of coyotes began their yipping. It was entertaining to try and imagine where the sound was coming from, and how far away they might be. As I relaxed and closed my eyes, it seemed as though they were all around me. There yips swirled like a merry-go-round, spinning me to sleep.
For a hammock application and no underquilt, it was little colder than desirable for my bag. So I experimented with a vapor liner system to reduce evaporation heat loss. Basically, I covered my bottom half with a plastic trash bag, and my upper half with my rain shell. Although I stayed comfortably warm all night, I was a little damp when I awoke in the morning. I was covered head to toe in wool, so as I stood in the breeze watching the opposite bank light up in the sun, I was acceptably warm and dried quickly.
As the sun rose higher in the sky, it was my favorite time in camp; breakfast outside. Hot coffee outside on a chilly day is almost like the encouragement of a friend.
When I started breakfast, I imagined crawling back into the warmth of the bag for little while. But it was a long night, a beautiful morning, and I guess the food and coffee spurred me to wandering around and taking photos.
One more cup of coffee, and another walk around.
I am learning how to love winter in Texas.
There was a brutal headwind for my return trip home. But I had such a great outing that even the wind couldn’t spoil it. I simply decided to take my sweet time and admire the countryside. Well that, and think thankful thoughts about my triple crankset. Figuring as long as I keep the wheels rolling, I’d reach home eventually. And I eventually did.