Tuesday, July 28, 2015

In Summer's Grasp

It is high summer here in Michigan just as in everywhere else. We've had some recent heat but nothing like those poor bastards out west are enduring. Still. A little warm to trouble the trout right now.

It won't last long here and the warm will break shortly.

I'm getting gear out, cleaning, repairing, lubricating, and getting everything ship-shape for trout dashing up north come the early fall. I won't have everything tip-top for nightly excursion camping; but, it will be pretty good.

Below - a snap of my new tent:

I've got the fly pulled back to illustrate the nice mesh no-seeum ventilation. There is certainly room for two large Alagash cots (though one will probably be all it ever sees). The vestibules are great for protected storage and will hold all manner of things that shouldn't be stored near your sleeping quarters!

Things that forage in the dark love fly bags filled with treats like jerky pouches  and Snickers' wrappers.

It's a bad idea to store gear in the vestibule. Put it in the trunk of the car with other food.

I've a new lodge carbon steel skillet which I'll break-in this weekend on bacon, eggs, sausage, grilled ham-and-cheese. I'd love to say I've broken down and bought a nice Solo stove (leaning towards Campfire model but really only can justify a Titan model.) I haven't.

I wanted to make a cold-water dash to the Jordan River this year and chase brookies. I don't think it will happen.

I've got a trip for Salmon around Labor Day on the Pere Marquette and a trout trip the last full weekend of the season on the Manistee. I want to get to the Mason tract again this year on the South Branch of the Au Sable and a Saturday wade down the North Branch of the same.

There is a lot of trout fishing to fit into what is just over 60 days left in season proper.

Tent Review: Marmot 3P Tungsten 

I've spent 4 nights in the tent - three of which were in rain. One rain night was a serious storm.

Tent works. It works well. The ventilation is solid. The ease of set-up and take-down is good. I can do it in the dark now if needed. It is not a "dry pitch" design. If it is a downpour, you cannot get it set-up without some trickery. The tent fly cannot go up first.

You need additional pegs to stake  it out properly. I think you're going to want to stake it out properly because water will otherwise run off the fly and onto the very bottom of the seam-sealed section in the middle of the short sides. I had no trouble with this action on the first night I used the tent in "rain" but I did use all guy-out points thereafter. Pegs are easy to deal with even in the dark. Use them. [ I have about 15 in my collection so didn't buy any for this tent which only comes with 4. Tent stakes are handy beasts for all manner of things. Buy some.]

The light diffusing pockets are a nice touch. The overhead room is great. Changing clothes in the tent would be a breeze. The interior length is fine even for a cot-user like myself. The zippers are great and the huge doors (one on each of the long sides) really makes access and egress wonderful. The tent is quick to ventilate, seems to be made of stout stuff, and comes with a footpint for the price!

I always put a canvas tarp inside my tent to protect it and help with keeping it clean. I'm also not packing gear more than a couple miles.

If I were packing 15 km for an excursion, I'd probably not bring this tent. If I were living out of it for a week at the end of that hike? Yes, I'd pack this tent all the way.

The tent is a great tent for a trout camp. You can put two guys in it on cots and each has their own large vestibule and door. It'd work.

I'll use it as my single but then, I'm more a "base camp" sort of fellow.

I'll let you know how the carbon steel skillet works after I cook some eggs this weekend.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Camping Bear

Above, a Marmot 3P Tungsten tent: the new Bear Lodge.

I need to get out more and the drive back in summer from my favorite fishery is a ... bear.

It's a three-and-a-half hour dash which is fine on weekends until you fish 'till dark, have a snack, and start back at 11:30 PM.  I don't find that so fun anymore.

So, plenty of camp sites near my preferred fishing. Primitive camping allowed within 50' of  vehicle lanes in my absolute favorite place. I'm fine cold camping; but, I need sleep. It is so much nicer to fish, snack, and crash until the jays wake me the next morning then driving home like a civilized trout bum.

I bought a new tent. I have a great tent - but it is 15 years old and technology has passed it by. The old tent cannot stand a good 8 hour rain. Can't. Ventilation isn't good enough to keep the walls dry and the rain out. Either condensation or rain gets me.

Thus, I have to pitch a tarp over the tent. That's a huge pain anymore. Means the tent is just keeping out the bugs and I need more.

I did the research, kicked the ties, bugged the kids as REI, read online review, researched materials, tossed the chicken bones, and licked some toads (ok, the last part was just for fun). The Marmot is a good tent and I got it from REI at a great deal during a flash sale.

I'll test it shortly in the north meadow and post some pics and review here. I'm, also leaning toward the Solo Stove Titan for a cooking option to move from cold  camping in areas where there is no designated fire pit. The Solo Titan is a wood gas stove meaning woody debris. Contained, safe, allowable, not an open fire, and allowed in primitive sites.

Ah, that grilled cheese becomes a thing of of possibilities. So does a bacon-and-egg breakfast.

First things first. Let's try dry and bug-free for a crash pad. We'll move to comforts beyond my Allagash cot then.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Bear Camping

We hosted Camp Cub for the grand cubs here this past week. Most of June was consumed with activities-other-than-trout-fishing.

Sad, but true.

Now, back on the path.

We did a great job, though. Sleeping under the stars. Watching the moon, Jupiter, Venus.

We used a whole bag of Jumbo Stay-Puff (enough to attract real bears who thoughtfully returned the invitation with regrets).

So artifacts:

Camp with flag before tent:

Excited camper following me past the photo trap.

 Visitor to the meadow and one of her three resident fawns (fawn is small head directly under the thorn tree in the picture's center). The three fawns spend the days in the tall grass.