I packed up my new bike trailer and took off down the road feeling as prepared as a preschooler on their first day away from mommy and daddy. Was I going to be eaten alive by our state bird (the mosquito) or was my latest idea going to shield me from the horrors I was about to experience?
There were so many new variables that I was dealing with. A new town, a new bike trailer, a new portaledge, a new tent, and a new trail. Are you excited yet!? After a six mile shoulderless road ride I was excited to find that the trail I chose was very bike friendly and I began searching for a tree that would give me a beautiful view of a secluded lake. I found one within the first hour and began my battle with the mosquitoes. I donned my rain jacket to keep them off me and quickly filled it with sweat as I free climbed the first 20′ section of my tree. Once I got above the thick shrubs I was able to toss up a throwline and ascend my rope up into the canopy.
By this time I wasn’t sure what was worst, the mosquitoes or my body overheating. I set up the portaledge and perched my new tent on top of it. Can you believe that I was just winging it the whole? Well everything fit perfect and I quickly crawled into my new bunker while the onslaught continued just outside of my mesh windows. I feel so bad for the creatures that do not get the luxury of a fully enclosed bug net!
That night it started to rain which surprised the hell out of me because there was zero percent chance of rain according to the weather forecast. Thank God I decided to put up the rain fly before I got into bed. When I woke up the next morning the mosquitoes were gone and I was greeted with a beautiful view of a pristine lake. I took a bunch of pictures and recorded some video then took down camp and rappelled to the ground.
AHHHHHH! It was a slaughter house! Those mosquitoes were waiting for me in the lower elevations and they kamikazied themselves onto every bare piece of my skin. I had my rain jacket cinched so tight that my overheated body didn’t have room to sweat. But those bastards didn’t care. They battled with me until I was out of the forest and speeding down the road. I barely even realized that it was downpouring because the mosquitoes were terrorizing me so bad. I received, no exaggeration, 38 bites on my LEFT LEG alone. I stopped counting after that because I was too disgusted. With that said, I can’t wait until next time!
Specifications of my camping setup:
Portaledge – I made the ledge from an old aluminum cot that I found in the free section on craigslist. I later upgraded this cot to a store bought one. Gander MTN sells one that is the perfect size for $70. It folds in the middle which makes it bulky but with a few modifications it will collapse down to the size of a tent bag.
UPDATE (September 1st, 2014) – I wanted to be a little more specific about the cot I used because I have received multiple questions about it. The cot is a Gander Mountain Cabin Cot which is made of very light aluminum. The legs are riveted to the frame but I used a handdrill to remove them which was quite easy. I tossed the head and foot legs but the middle leg is required for sturdiness. I then purchased four screws with wingnuts so that I can remove the middle legs and collapse the ledge down into multiple pieces for easier carrying in a backpack (the head and foot end of the frame pulls off when the material is not taught). I ended up selling this ledge because it was just too short for me (I am 6’2″) and although it is MUCH more comfortable than a hammock I want a real portaledge that my feet don’t hang over the end. I apologize for not weighing the cot when I had it! I would guess less than 4lbs with the head and foot legs removed.
Webbing and Adjusters – I bought the adjusters at Menards in the car section. They come in boxes of two with webbing included but I replaced this webbing with climbing spec rated webbing. You need 6 adjusters, cost was ~$20. The webbing can be bought at REI or any gear store. I had some extra laying around my house.
Tent – I bough the tent new so that I could return it if it didnt work. The tent is an REI Passage solo tent for $110. I chose this tent because the pole design “squishes” between the portaledge webbing. It worked perfect!
Disclaimer: This post is for entertainment purposes only. If you attempt this you will get hurt or die.