I went for a picnic in the woods with my kids to try out my new tarp and some gear I am planning on using for hiking this summer. Today was the first time I tried mounting often used and important items to my shoulder straps so I can get them without taking the pack off. I think I will be doing this again in the future. The red pouch on my right is a first aid kit.
I've never put up a tarp before, although I have spent the last few days learning a few useful knots in anticipation of my first tarp pitching. Using the right knots, I didn't find erecting the tarp hugely difficult. The only thing I found problematic was stopping the tarp from bunching up on the ridgeline. Perhaps next time I will run the ridgeline through the eyes on the tarp, rather than hang the tarp over the ridgeline. The 4 corners were pegged out with guy lines and tent pegs. The ridgeline was 550 paracord with a Siberian Hitch at one end and a Truckers Hitch at the other. I used a US military poncho as a groundsheet to sit upon.
One problem I did not anticipate was flies! Once the tarp was up, the shady space underneath seemed to attract them. The forestry commission's prohibition on fires was a problem there. If I'd been allowed to light one, we'd have been perfectly comfortable. As it was the kids were unhappy about being eaten alive, so we didn't stay long. Next time I will bring one of my hobo stoves to try and keep them at bay.
A passing dog walker seemed to think my impromptu camp odd. She stopped and, peered over the bush I was behind and said "Watch out for ticks in there....". I couldn't tell if she was trying to be funny, obnoxious or if she was genuinely scared by the thought of going 6 foot off the track.
The quick release knots aided in taking the camp down even quicker than it went up. Corralling the tarp back into its pouch was a little challenging - it acts like a sail and is hard to fold in the wind.
Once I had dismantled the camp, you'd never know we were there.....
PS - The photos make it look like I had pitched the tarp right under some hung-up widow makers. In reality they were quite some distance away.