I love it! I never want to go tree camping alone again! After my work schedule opened up over the weekend I called my good friend Jake who had been begging me to climb Wolf’s Ridge near Silver Bay, MN before it snowed. This is the story:
I wanted to test my newly built portaledge so when I found out there were chances of rain in the forecast I attempted to build the rainfly in one day. I started building it at 8am Thursday and worked on it until 4am Friday only stopping to eat. I then woke up at 8:30am Friday and finished seam sealing it by 1:30pm. I cleaned up the house for my beautiful wife, built a hanging stove for Jake (since he loves his hot coffee), bought food for the trip, and tossed my entire gear closet into my car hoping that I would not forget anything with such little preperation and so much sleep deprivation.
When we arrived at the trail head to Section 13 it was 10:00pm. We both agreed that we were too lazy to sort our gear in the dark and our destination was only one mile up the backside of the cliff so we decided to carry our climbing gear and backpacking gear in two trips. The hiking was slow going since I was attempting to recover from a terrible case of tendonitis in my foot but we finished both trips by midnight.
I had the idea to portaledge at Section 13 for the past two years so when we decided that it was far too windy for us to enjoy a good night’s sleep on the side of a cliff I was heartbroken. BUT! I had never gone tree camping with a friend before so my excitement was quickly regained when Jake suggested it. We had no throwlines so I had to climb our chosen tree by slinging branches while Jake belayed me with a dynamic rope. Once I made it to the top I anchored a static line then Jake enjoyed his first arborist-style tree climb while he set up the rest of the anchors and climbing lines. After setting up the ledge, doing some filming, and pretty much just wingin it we were in bed by 430 am Saturday. My sleep deprivation was catching up to me.
We were awaken by the sun at 9:30am and made breakfast using the hanging stove I built yestarday. It worked great! I usually don’t cook when tree camping but Jake’s breakfast made me jealous so I will definitely be cooking more often in the tree. It was so refreshing to just relax in my sleeping bag up high in the forest amongst the fall colors with a good friend. We were dreading the hike since we both still had to hike down with our first pack, back up to the top, and back down again with our second pack. We both agreed that the repetative hiking was totally NOT worth the amount of time that we saved from avoiding sorting and efficiantly packing our gear before the trip.
By this time my tendinitis was roaring but I wanted to climb Wolf Ridge because Jake had his heart set on it all summer. Jake picked out an easy ~110 foot route which we climbed in three pitches due to the awesome belay ledges and the fear of rope drag. I believe the route was called “Mother Goose” and I highly recommend it if you are searching for a fun route to warm up on.
We were hoping to set up the ledge at Palisade Head overlooking Lake Superior but the Rangers wouldn’t allow us to. Were were polite, and they said we could set up the ledge during the day but honestly we were upset because we didn’t understand what the difference was if we set it up during the day or night!? The worst part is this meant we had to go back to Section 13 which is my favorite cliff in MN but we hiked the trail WAY TOO MANY TIMES this weekend already and my fibularis longus tendon was about to explode! Jake stepped up and carried all of my gear to the summit which means he hiked up to the summit with me where I stayed to set up the portaledge, then he hiked back down alone, then back up to the summit again. Hahaha, he was so sick of the trail!
After we got the ledge set up we relaxed and watched the stars from our little tent in the sky. From Thursday morning to Saturday night I got a total of 8 hours of sleep and my body was ready to shut down. I didn’t wake up once which is quite weird considering there was only one layer of 420D pack cloth separating me from the ~90 feet of air below the portaledge. We were awaken the next morning by sprinkles so we pulled down the fly and slept some more. I am so excited that all of my hard work in building the portaledge and rainfly finally paid off! It sleeps perfect! I never want to tent on the ground again!
If you want to see the pictures of this portaledge being built click this link: DIY Portaledge Build Pictures