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As an avid day hiker, but a novice backpacker (only two trips, so far), I've already learned the hard way that weight will absolutely do in a little guy! Especially true if that guy has now attained "old codger" status and has a screw in his right ankle! So, in an effort to lighten my overall load, I am thinking about getting a tarp-tent.
Currently, I live in New Mexico and I'm used to hiking in the mountains of northern NM or southern Colorado. However, I will be moving to Vegas in a few weeks and I'm doing some preliminary research on backpacking possibilities just across the state line in California: Inyo, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, etc.
Seems to be a whole different ballgame out there, with the requirements for backcountry permits, bear canisters, and pitching camp on durable surfaces... and then still having to deal with the possibility of marmots eating everything on my car not made out of metal (okay, a slight exaggeration!). Hey, it is what it is and since I'm only a three-season hiker, I'm already looking forward to next spring!
So far, I've replace my bag and pad, and I'm about to replace my water filter. Now I'm looking at getting a new shelter and feel a tarp-tent might be the way to go. I'll replace the pack at the very last, once I get my total load figured out.
Here are my concerns about the tarp-tent:
For the most part, the pics I've seen show the area in SoCal to be quite rocky and I've even seen some pics where a free-standing tent was pitched right on top of a hard-rock surface, I assume, because no dirt was available for stakes.
Is this rockiness typical throughout the Inyo, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia? If so, it seems a non-freestanding tarp-tent, with its stake requirements and larg footprint, may not be the best way to go, especially given the "durable surfaces" requirement, which I guess means you can't camp on top of any type of vegetation.
Anyway, I figured I'd better get some input from those who hike that area regularly before making a final decision on the tarp-tent.