It's not so easy climbing a thousand feet in 6 to 12 inches of snow but Hoppin John leads the way. He has a red Hilleberg tent and a Mystery Ranch G6000 pack so we look similar.
DAY TWO TRIP 143
TRAIL 54A South
CAMP Bob Bald Raven Camp
MY ONLY GOAL
The sky remains clear and black with a billion stars so now at 6 in the morning I wait for first light and the brewing of hot tea with honey. The honey is rock hard and is made by Y.S. Eco bee farms. A good burn pile will consume some bookage and 2 book rolls but this won't happen for awhile. It's a very calm night here in Cold Gap. My only goal today is to pack and climb to the Bob, easy enough even with a 75 lb pack. After Hoppin John and I commiserate over our tents we'll split up and I'll either walk him down the trail to Cold Gap and then split up or I'll stay on Four Mile Ridge and work my way to Naked Ground and the Hangover---the usual haunts. I have no grand plan to go or get anywhere except maybe Toad Camp on Haoe Lead and points down.
The biggest long term flaw on the Hilleberg tents is their use of crappy black elastic connectors between the tent fly and the inner tent. All of the keron elastic has stretched permanently causing the entire inner to sag and there's one elastic band in particular which is completely useless and excessively stretched to the point where it just hangs uselessly. It's their biggest weakness but the company doesn't address the problem. I need to email Hilleberg about it but what can they do? Keep my tent for a month to sew on new elastic? No thanks.
Here's a solution: get rid of the elastic connectors. Luckily the Keron is big enough inside that even with ruined elastic it still offers enough room for 1 person (even though it's a 3 person tent). This elastic flaw has been present in both my Staikas too and the company's reply is to get sent new elastic and sew them on myself. Too much of a job for 24 connectors and 48 sew points. I keep saying it but these black elastic connectors are an engineering failure waiting to happen as elastic deforms over time and stays permanently stretched and longer which ruins the whole purpose of a Hilleberg tent---to have a strong and firm supported inner tent. What to do? Buy a new tent? Naw, too expensive.
Go back to the MSR Fury? Naw. Do a home repair? Maybe I will get Hilleberg to mail me a set of elastic and replace the most obviously ruined ones. At first light I'll inspect them and do a field repair whereby I shorten them by wrapping and re-toggling. Hilleberg uses excellent materials except for these elastic connectors. Here the material fails as the whole concept is flawed since elastic is never meant to be permanent or not stretch. Look at high use rubber bands or the waist in your underwear---they all stay stretched over time and Hilleberg should know this when they decide to use elastic. So Hilleberg fails us on 2 basic levels---
** Elastic connectors.
** Stubby length with bag draping angled tent foot-end walls.(But not with the Keron/Kaitum).
MORNING TURTLEHEAD WITH TEA
Yes, the full sun hits the tent in warm temps and so i begn the day with a turtlehead and then I burn 2 book rolls and get to making 4 bag tea with 2 bags nettle, 1 bag smooth move and 1 bag cranberry. I've got all day to reach the Bob and so it's time to brew tea and slowly pack.
New England covered in 2 feet of snow. The sea is destroying a couple homes.
HOPPIN JOHN PULLS INTO COLD GAP
It's good to see old Hoppin John as he left Alabama at 1:30 in the morning and 5 hours later he's at Beech Gap and ready with his Mystery Ranch pack and new Hilleberg Kaitum tent. I'm still drinking morning tea as he comes up and says,
"Is that squirrel you got on the fire?"
And I reply, "Why? Grown par-tick-u-lar??"
He watches me pack and we trudge up a tough trail in 12 inches of snow to the top of Bob Mt where we stop to talk to the backpacking couple who came in last night and are camped by the Death Tree with their dog Sammy. Here's the wild part---it's the same couple and the same woman who was hornet stung and rescued by the Graham County rescue squad on Trip 138. They were coming up the Nutbuster trail when she got stung and many came in to get her out. She now carries an Epipen. It sort of blows me away to see them up here again after that September crisis.
BACK TO RED
Anyway let's get back to Hoppin John. He's set up on Nokia Hill and I'm on Raven Top as we prepare for something coming tomorrow and we will sit thru it all---maybe rain, maybe wind, maybe thunderstorms. He brought several items which piqued my interest like an Exped blow bag to attach to my Exped to make pumping easier; an Exped Multimat which is super light and super insulated for an inside-the-tent ground cloth, and of course his red Kaitum tent and a small black plastic ladle---excellent for determining scrotum size and weight but he uses it for soups!
BACK ON THE BOB
All hell could break loose but it's good to be back on the Bob especially with old backpacking buddy Hoppin John and the dual Hillebergs.
DARK NIGHT GOODNIGHTS
I swing down to Abbi's camp to talk and say goodbye and then I swing up to John's camp and sit inside his spacious tunnel tent to look at his string of suspended Christmast lights and we talk until my feet get me out and under geese in my tube tunnel. It's time to recap the day in the journal and call it quits with a couple peanut butter cookies.