Cold Mountain Poems [from the Chinese]

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As for me, I delight
in the everyday Way,
among mist-wrapped
vines and rocky caves.
Here in the wilderness
I am completely free,
with my friends,
the white clouds, idling forever.
There are roads,
but they do not reach the world; since I am mindless,
who can rouse my thoughts?
On a bed of stone
I sit, alone in the night,
while the round moon
climbs up Cold Mountain.

– Han Shan

I first learned of the seventh century Chinese Buddhist hermit Han Shan through the brilliant translations by Gary Snyder, the Beat poet.  … I walk in both their footsteps every time I’m in the wild.

[Cold Mountain is not a place in space and time. Is the place inside yourself where enlightenment lingers, and longs to be discovered]

Cheap Makings for a DIY Gear Hammock

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I grabbed a couple of these for $5 apiece this morning down Babylon at a store called “Five Below”… national chain, so you should be able to find it around most civilization outposts.

I think I may have posted about seeing these in the on-line 5-Below shop at the end of the season last year. The stock had run out before I got to a brick-and-mortar store to ask about them. This year, the Five Below folks were on the lookout for me, and had kindly set a pair aside.

This is being sold by Five Below as a kids hammock, and only measures 72″ x 32″, which is a bit narrow. It’s made out of 100% polyester fabric that is similar to parachute cloth, but does not have a ripstop thread pattern. The stock suspension was a very soft 3/8″ poly braided line that was going to soak up moisture like a sponge, and had very heavy S-eye hooks. It does have a integral stuff sack sewn to one edge, and the sack features a nice ball-lok drawstring keeper. The tag says something about making certain that your support points will hold 200 pounds… I have no idea if that’s indicative of a weight limit, but for my purposes of a gear hammock it’s completely irrelevant. As I can easily manage to keep my pack under 25 pounds total, I will never have much of a weight-load actually getting stashed.

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Down in the Moosenut Falls Development Lab [for proof-of-concept purposes] I ripped off the clunky suspension and replaced it with a simple piece of paracord. This is looped and knotted through the sewn-in channels at each and and gives a fixed length ridgeline of 60 inches. The belly sag created gives plenty of room for gear. I threaded a couple of feet of Masons line into the turned over fabric edge for about 2 feet in the center, so that I could gather some of the slack/flap in the side. [this will be replaced in the next version with thin bungee cord to provide some “give” around the gear]. It made for a pouch that is surprisingly spacious. With the change in suspension, the hammock right now weighs just under 5 ounces, and stuffs down to about the size of an 8 ounce juice bottle.

I added the fixed ridgeline so that I could also put a Noseeum-netting organizer up on it, and clip other small stuff along it as well.

I intend to pair this this with one of the $10 WallyWorld blue nylon tarps that come 5’x7′. Using the 7 foot length as my ridgeline, and with the 30 inch overhangs on each side, it should keep the hammock completely covered. If I find that it flaps too much in wind, I will add a couple of rare-earth magnets as “snaps” along the ends. As I said, this is still a proof-of-concept model right now, but I think that the tarp should be able to hang directly on the suspension with a prussic knot at each end for adjustments.

I’ll get a pair of the dollar store dog leashes and cut the snap clips off for tree huggers. Since I already have a tarp, I expect my whole outlay for a decent gear hammock to come in at about $8. At that price, when I move beyond proof-of-concept, I might just spring for some Dyneema Zing-It on the final suspension since that would have nearly zero stretch if it gets wet.