Setting Up My Tarp

This morning I spent a frustrating - although at times, amusing - hour trying to set up my tarp as a free-standing tent. Last year my dad bought me a Chinook Guide Tarp - a 9 1/2 x 9 1/2 foot tarp - a really good, lightweight and strong tarpaulin. I figured that on my upcoming trip to New Hampshire that instead of lugging my 2 man dome tent about (as alas it is not the Hilleberg Akto that I so desire, and is rather heavy), I would use my tarp. If using a tarp is successful, I might just use that on my next Algonquin trip - as it would greatly lighten my load. Of course, so would a Hilleberg Akto, but I don't have $400 to spend on one.

The web site Equipped to Survive has a great online document, describing a multitude of arrangements and configurations for setting up a tarp as a shelter. I spent some time the last month assembling miniature versions from typing paper on my desk, and this morning figured I would try out a couple of designs:

The Low Tetra

The Forrester

After an hour of muted cursing, gritted teeth and gently encouraging Monty to stop sitting exactly in the middle of the tarp and chewing his sticks, I managed only to set up The Forrester design. It was roomy enough. I have guy lines attached to several points around the tarp, but what I am lacking is a tent pole exactly 5 1/2 feet high. I have an old set of break-down fiberglass rods, and I am tempted to saw one of them to the correct height. To ensure the sharp tip doesn't poke through the fabric, I'll either put in a metal grommet to support the rod, or simply attach some padding to the tip of the rod. Of course, I could just support it from a tree branch above. I have a couple of weeks left to decide and to figure out alternatives.

I guyed the tarp to various angles and having to continuously adjust it all, I stopped and stared at a paper model of the version I was trying to build. I realized that the dimensions of the paper could easily be extrapolated to the tarp itself. I used a piece of nylon cord, and tied off various lengths to make a ruler. I quickly measured off the footprint, staked it off, attached the tarp, and set up the rod with a guy line and a leather gardening glove as a cushion for the top of the rod. Bingo! Monty ran inside with his stick and I crawled in. Sitting up, I realized I had about a 5' ceiling, and could easily setup my legless camping chair within and have room for my sleeping bag and mattress, with some space left over for my kit. A hiking stick might make a better support rod. We'll see.

I had three things on my list to finalize before I had my whole kit list ready for my trip: new Mora knife, wool socks and a wool blanket. Well, I've asked my dad to use some of his model-ship building tools to cut a slot in the ferrule for my knife project - so I am waiting for him to return this piece before I continue on this project. Today, however, I picked up some nice wool socks - they'll keep me good and warm camping during the cold months. They dry fairly quickly and keep the warmth in, even when damp. Last piece is tracking down a good wool blanket - I might hunt around Value Village or the Salvation Army shops for a cheapy...

Decado and I have been chatting a little, he's offered to lend me a hammock for the trip. We might meet somewhere east of Toronto on the trip down - and perhaps swing through Adirondack Park, if not on the way there, on the way back. This is where Lake Placid is located. The drive is between 10 and 12 hours, depending on the route, so I think I will leave at 4:00 AM to make good time.

Well, that's it for now, more on my preparations and kit list in the coming days.



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