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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just curious if hammock camping is a viable option in Cat Canyon? This is my first trip down (March) and am trying to consolidate down as much as possible and the hammock shelter is was smaller and lighter than the tent...
 

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Watching to see the answers you get. I'm also a hammock user from time to time. I've been curious about hammock camping in canyon country.
 

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I have seen a hammock at brown betty, rapid 10 and ten cent. There are usually enough dead tamarisk nearby to be creative with.
 

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I think it will depend largely on where your group stays, but you could potentially be left pretty unhappy with your options and using the ground shelter more often than not. A lot of the vegetation down there is either pretty wispy or so socked in it will take some serious machete work to clear out an opening between solid limbs. In March I'm a ground tent sleeper down there, and in summer a boat sleeper if possible. Hammocks seem more dependable in Deso and Lodore than Cat or the San Juan.
 

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Likely have major problems with hammocks before the confluence which is at least a 2 day deal for most of us oar powered folks, especially in March. Options exist in the heart of the canyon but you might have to base camp decisions on trees which is hard to do considering you register ahead for camps from Spanish Bottom to Dark Canyon. Some camps would be great others would suck. And then it gets slim pickings again from Imperial down which another 2 nights normally.

I would rate Cat as generally non-ideal for hammocks. In March you will generally be using sand bars on the Colorado above the confluence. This should be especially true this year. Below Imperial you will be sleeping on un-vegetated mudbanks that resemble the scene from the Golden Child where Eddy Murphy is jumping from pillar to pillar. I have had the mud pillars sink 4 feet while setting up camp down there.

If you are going for it then definitely consider one of the upper Spanish Bottom camps on river right. I think it is the first one you come to. Spent a day in a hammock there plus it will give you a easy hike up to the Doll House which is a must see the first time. I also think one of the Ten Cent camps has options but a little vague which one (thinking lower).

Enjoy your trip. Great year and season to be floating down there.

Phillip
 

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My Hennessy hammock can be set up as a ground shelter also. I've never used it that way but it can be done with trekking poles, paddles, or maybe a line set up on weaker branches since it only needs to support the rain fly and not your body weight.
If your hammock material is not waterproof then this would be a bad idea in the rain. If its not raining you can use it as a loose bivy without the fly. I use a pad when hanging a hammock (to add rigidity/comfort) or using a tent/bivy, so if you hammock without a pad using it on the ground may not be ideal.

Mr French
 

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After seeing the responses & thinking about the topography, I think I'd opt for a pad & ultralight tent if I were kayaking. Or maybe your hammock, tarp & trekking poles like Mr. French suggests. I love sleeping in my hammock when trees are available, but much prefer my underquilt over a pad in the hammock for warmth.

I'm thinking about a Stillwater/Labyrinth trip this summer in a touring kayak and this very question has me puzzled. I'd love to save weight & space with my hammock set-up, but wonder about the practicality?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the beta on this, folks.

I am normally a boat sleeper myself, but I am not going to be able to do that this go around. My current set up is an ENO with a Kelty UL tarp strung over head with either a paco or thermarest stuffed inside.

After reading through this and taking cataraft.girl's idea of looking at a topo, I'm going to rethink this option for sures
 

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If there were places to use rocks or canyon walls as anchors that might work. But most of these canyons are sand with shrubby Tamarisks, Russian Olive(ouch), Pinyon Pines, and Junipers. Not very big or sturdy tress for a hammock. The canyon walls are a bit too far away to be practical. I tried to hammock sleep on Deso, and even there, with some big cottonwoods it was a bit of a challenge in places.
 

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There's a photo of someone's craft here on the buzz somewhere that shows the rigging that was installed to accommodate a hammock right on the boat. Sorry I couldn't locate it, prob saw it in the raft porn thread.

I agree that hammock sleeping isn't always convenient on the desert trips, just not enough anchors.
 

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Here's the picture. Sam Arnold IV is the poster. Pretty cool set-up.

Oops....click on the top picture for the best view.
 

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I'm not super familiar with Cat temps but March seems like it would be too cold for a hammock without an underquilt which would undermine the whole light/compact concept. Sounds like you've decided against for other reasons anyways though.
 

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I'm not super familiar with Cat temps but March seems like it would be too cold for a hammock without an underquilt which would undermine the whole light/compact concept. Sounds like you've decided against for other reasons anyways though.
Hammocks get cold even in summer temps without a pad or underquilt. An underquilt packs down super small & light. Much better choice than a pad if you want light & compact. My 20 degree UQ packs into an 9X6 stuff sack and weighs about 24 oz.
 

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Underquilt plus top quilt = Sleeping bag when packed in a compression sack. Add the hammock and tarp, which is smaller than most tents, and you're ahead of the game. Take out the pad and you're way ahead....

Has anyone used their oars in a pyramid secured with a cam strap to support one end of their hammock? I don't see why this wouldn't allow just one high anchor (tree)- There are "portable" hammock stands out there for just one end- and they're not that beefy. Three oars are damned strong- maybe some concern about the handles, but the loads could be managed if you buried them a little bit. I've gotten a pair of the sand stakes that anchor at the base, but haven't had a chance to try it out yet. I've always managed to find anchor points on the Colorado rivers I float- but I can see where desert floats would present a lot more of a challenge. Anchoring to a rock or root on one end, with the oars pyramided up as your high point of attachment should be doable in most places I would think (hope!).
 

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Did Cataract once and brought my hammock along. There was only 1 camp where it was usable and I never set it up because someone else put there tent there before I got to it.
 

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Underquilt plus top quilt = Sleeping bag when packed in a compression sack. Add the hammock and tarp, which is smaller than most tents, and you're ahead of the game. Take out the pad and you're way ahead....

Has anyone used their oars in a pyramid secured with a cam strap to support one end of their hammock? I don't see why this wouldn't allow just one high anchor (tree)- There are "portable" hammock stands out there for just one end- and they're not that beefy. Three oars are damned strong- maybe some concern about the handles, but the loads could be managed if you buried them a little bit. I've gotten a pair of the sand stakes that anchor at the base, but haven't had a chance to try it out yet. I've always managed to find anchor points on the Colorado rivers I float- but I can see where desert floats would present a lot more of a challenge. Anchoring to a rock or root on one end, with the oars pyramided up as your high point of attachment should be doable in most places I would think (hope!).
I think my whole set-up (hammock with suspension, tarp with lines & stakes, TQ, and UQ) comes in at around 5.5 pounds. I've often thought about the oar pyramid thing, but haven't tried it. I kind of gave up on the hammock for desert rivers, but have used it in Idaho.
 
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