He's back at it!

People who know me know that I belong on the Trail. I've thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail (twice),the Pacific Crest Trail and the mighty Continental Divide Trail. I've hiked many of the long trails here in Michigan including being the first to hike both the Ironwood Trail and the Great Lake To Lake Trail. My next big adventure will be the Israel National Trail starting in February 2017.

The purpose of this blog is to keep anyone who is interested informed of my progress and to encourage those who are able to support me in this endeavor.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Cowboy Camping

I can sleep anywhere. This is a skill I mastered during my six years in the U.S. Army and it has served me well while long distance hiking. In fact, one of the things I really love about life on the trail is that when you pack up in the morning, you never know where you're going to sleep that night. Most likely, it's going to be in your tent alongside of the trail somewhere but you just never know. 

When I can, I like to cowboy camp; that is, to skip the tent and just sleep under the stars. It's a wonderful feeling to lay on your back and drift off to sleep as you watch the moon cross the sky. Plus, it takes far less time to pack up in the morning since you don't have a tent to put away. 


The disadvantage is that the weather could turn on you. You may fall asleep under the stars but you might wake up to fat drops of rain hitting you in the face. Thus begins the mad scramble of trying to get your boots on and quickly set up your tent before you and all your gear get soaked. Or, the wind can pick up. I've drifted off to sleep before in peace and quiet only to wake up with thirty mile-an-hour winds blowing leaves and dust all over me. It would be too much of a headache to try and get the tent set up in wind like that. Instead, I just put my back to the wind and go back to sleep. 



People often ask me if one could hike the entire AT without a tent and it's certainly possible. You'd have to cowboy camp or find a spot in a shelter every night - that's the part that I would hate. Shelters can be crowded and noisy. No thank you. I'd rather stop in at the shelters, water-up and enjoy the commroderie but then go find a quiet spot to camp by myself. 

This is about as late in the year as I can get away with (comfortably) cowboy camping. Soon, I'll need the tent just to hold in some heat. Until then, when possible, I'll shun the shelter and sleep under the stars. 

5 comments:

Brian H. said...

You're a cowboy!!

Christopher Hillier said...

Did you do any cowboy camping in New York? ;-)

Adam Spencer said...

Have you ever thought of a waterproof bivy? I used to do that a lot and just tuck my head under a tree. I woke up frosty a morning or two but stayed mostly dry. I would cover my pack with a small tarp and that stayed bone dry.

Christopher Hillier said...

I've considered a bivy but there are times when I get pinned down in my tent by heavy rains for a long time. I fear that a bivy would start to feel claustrophobic after a while.

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