Sunday, March 7, 2010

Good Night, Popper

Last night we all slept in Popper. We enjoyed a nice supper with friends, lovely conversation, and one of the best grizzly bear hugs I’ve had in a long time (thanks, J!). Then The Five Bears and two dogs (not two cats) settled in for the night. Or, at least, most of the night. T-Bear woke up around 5:00, said he was “uncomfortable”, and wanted to sleep inside the house. I joined him so he wouldn’t feel lonely, and brought the dogs in with us so they wouldn’t disturb the remaining Popper sleepers. Both 100 lb dogs had decided they would sleep on top of Brother Bear, and I figured he could use a wee bit more room.

I’d forgotten how lovely and comforting it is to sleep in a mummy bag. I originally bought mine (mumble) years ago when my good friend, Kristi, and I embarked on the first of our shared annual summer excursions into the back country of Sequoia National Park, outfitted and guided by her neighbor, John. I learned how to weigh, balance, load, cover, and tie down packs on a mule (I’m pretty sure I’ve now forgotten how to tie down). How to saddle a pack animal and a mount, how to unload them and groom them, and how to feed them. I learned how to stay on a horse for five hours climbing steep trails, and I learned (the hard way) that a horse may want to roll in the sandy stream bed after a long haul up the mountain, and that you don’t want to remain on her back when she does so. (Neither of us were injured in the rolling incident, although I was good-naturedly laughed at). I learned that you can keep yourself cozier on cold nights by putting pack pads under the tent where you’re going to sleep (after you’ve let them air out a bit, otherwise they work up a mighty stink). And, I learned that there is just about nothing more comforting than slipping into a mummy bag after a long day of riding and setting up camp and an open-fire dinner and visiting with lovely people in the silence of the mountains.

At the trail head, Aug 1994. Still have the boots (which I still wear) and the hat (which Brother Bear wears) and the belt (which I'll be able to wear after I drop another lb or two).

When I bought my mummy bag, the sales guy asked whether I “slept warm” or “slept cold”, and the average low temperatures I thought I’d be camping in (to determine the temperature rating of the bag I needed). He also asked my height, and set me up with a bag that just perfectly fits me from head to toe. The bag is tapered toward the feet, so your feet aren’t wandering around in a big void where they’ll get cold. There’s a “hood” that comes up around your head, and a draw-string that allows you to tighten it down so there’s nothing sticking out but your face. Nary a therm of body heat is wasted in a mummy bag, so it keeps you much warmer on cold nights than a standard sleeping bag. It’s very light weight, and when you change position, rolling onto your side to curl up or onto your back to stretch out, the entire bag moves with you. You never roll over into a cold spot, because the whole bag is sort of an extension of your body. As long as you’re not claustrophobic, it’s a very sweet way to sleep.

So, that lovely comforting embrace is what I slipped into last night, the rest of The Bears snuggling into their bags, the dogs haurumphing down into a sleep repose on top of Brother Bear. The traffic on RR Pkwy almost sounded like a stream running next to our little suburban camp, as everyone drifted off to sleep. I didn’t sleep deeply, and I don’t expect I will when we camp. But, I look forward to our first real campout with Papa Bear and The Cubs. And I wonder what they will remember (mumble) years from now about camping in Popper…

1 comment:

  1. I had to laugh at your pack mule experiences :)