The running joke on the AT of how do you know if someone sleeps in a hammock goes like this... we will tell you. Since Damascus, I've been in a hammock, less one night. Before I arrived I had my Hennessey hammock sent out with a hex-tarp. At that time I'd used my tent 4 times in over a month. The tent usage for me did not justify the weight, though the hammock kit is slightly heavier, I use it more often. The hammock was literally were a life saver then. Since then I've stayed in one shelter - Partnership outside Marion. The reason for the swap out is I wasn't using the tent. Over the last few years backpacking, I've used a hammock. I see hammock sites fast then I do tenting spots. Since going back to the hammock I haven't been constrained to flat spots or shelter areas. I have flexibility to roam and stealth camp in more places.
This morning, I'm at Wood's Hole Hostel south of Pearisburg VA. This hostel is an organic farm with each planter box being a complete salad ready to feed over 20 hungry hikers and more. The gal who runs it inherited from her grandmother who set it up as a place of rest for all who come through. I can't say the whole story here but, so far this is one of my favorite places on the trail and wothy looking up later. Wood's Hole Hostel is open to others beyond hikers, so if planning a trip through southern Virginia, make an effort to find this place of retreat.
By the way, I'm in my hammock over in hospitable ground for a tent, a light rain fell overnight, and my pack is just under me. I do use webbing to protect the bark of the trees for both my tarp and my hammock. I find setting up in the rain a little easier this way and I can fine tune the hang better. My hiking poles prop up one edge for a little view.
The night before, I was at Dismal Falls, a small set of water falls a little off the AT. I fell asleep to the wonderful sound of rushing soothing ripples of water.
My get up and go since leaving the home of the shelters isn't quick by any means but I find the better sleep, the better I hike throughout the day. The hang can be a bit chilly underneath so I might look for a 40 degree underquilt before I hit Vermont. Right now my sleeping pad works.
I am also continuing to refine how I pack each day, little tweaks go a long way. Since the pack is a sack of sacks I find that if I can pack around that which can't be shifted in size and fill in the gaps the more comfortable the carry for the day is. For example the cook kit is a solid, it'll never chang shape. The food bag is often solid as well though changing daily. I carry but one fleece jersey, a jacket, and minor other clothing. If I pack the clothing into a compression sack I beecomes a solid. I was doing that previously. I'm now carrying the clothing in a stuff sack that can be molded around that which does not change shape so easily. I'm going from a layer by layer system to a system of fitting by weight and malleable. The heavier items are set so they are closer the the back and held in place. The malleable system seems to be working better for comfort and weight balance.
I've got other things on my mind. I'll hit those in another post. The sound of rain and birds are my alarm clock this morning.
Hike on and carry in comfort...