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A good night's sleep ...
Getting a good nightís sleep
Notes on setting up a camp site:
First priority in site selection must go to bed sites since nothing is more important than a good nightís sleep. Damp and sloping ground should be avoided, so should roots and rocks that cannot be removed.† Thereís more to a good bed than sleeping bag, mattress and ground sheet.† Experienced backpackers will recognize a good place but beginners need to consider various criteria.† The chief enemies of a good nightís sleep are cold, dampness, wind, insects, running water, flying sparks and the snoring of oneís companions.
The most common mistake is to select a depression, dry ravine, stream bank because it is sheltered from the afternoon wind.† But winds have a habit of disappearing around dusk, turning an unfriendly promontory into an admirable camp† As the evening advances, a gentle but persistent night wind commonly rises to pour cold heavy air down the streambeds and ravines and into those inviting depressions, leaving them as much as ten degrees colder than higher ground only a few metres away.
Dry ravines, besides collecting cold air at night, also collect running water quickly in a cloudburst.† Meadows tend to be damp and attract heavy dew.† Dew results when moist air cools, causing fallout of condensation.† Dew will be heavier near a lake, stream or meadow, and just after a storm.† Be careful as the evening wears on as heavy dew is capable of severely wetting an unprotected sleeping bag in just a few hours. Woe to the wary backpacker who has to climb inside a drenched bag left open or inside out.† As well as being uncomfortable, a damp sleeping bag will be heavier to carry.
Choosing a bed site:
There are enough advantages to sleeping beneath a tree to more than compensate for the filtered view of the stars.† Trees serve as an umbrella to shield the sleeper from heavy dew and light rain.† On a bitterly cold, clear night, sheltering branches serve as insulation from solar radiation.† The air temperature beneath a tree may be ten degrees warmer than a bed site exposed to the chilly night sky.† For the late sleeper, position the bed to the west of a good sized tree so that it can shade you from the early morning sun Ė at least another hourís sleep.† Trees frequently serve as windbreaks, clothes hangers, pack supports, tarp tie-downs and a source of cushioning pine-needle mattresses.††
When positioning your tent, consider your body as a magnet and sleep with your head pointing to the north.† You are then parallel with the magnet pole which runs through the earth from north to south, and you are not lying across it.† The magnetic current will then flow from the head to the feet and you should sleep more peacefully. But more important, if the ground is sloping, position the tent so that your head is up-slope.
Vapour barriers in bed:
A crude but effective way to increase your sleeping bagís warmth is to wear your clothing to bed.† Ideally, wear it over thermal underwear so you stay warm without sweating.† You donít need to carry a heavy duty down bag just because the temperature might get really low.† You can carry a lighter, cheaper bag and rely on the clothing you have to carry anyway to provide the other warmth capability.† You can also increase the warmth of your bag by wearing a balaclava or other covering your head and face to prevent heat loss that can chill the entire body.