Hi all, first time caller here (well other than buying something in Gear Swap), I'm hoping someone can enlighten me on the finer points of backpacking light in my situation.
Background is that I'm an experienced hiker/backpacker but I am trying to start integrating some of the ultralight methods. I've read TONS on all of your blogs and on this forum but I am still getting stuck on one aspect.
I currently have an REI Half Dome 2 tent. If you're not familiar, it's a basic, full featured, heavy 2 person tent. For budget reasons it will be a few months before I can get a tarp of some kind. First off, if I camp in my beloved Shenandoah (I live near DC) with just the fly and groundsheet to save weight and start simulating tarp camping, will I wake up with a wet sleeping bag? Does a covering of some kind help with condensation build up? Will leaving the rainfly flaps open help prevent this moisture from settling (cross breezes?) or will it not matter and I'll probably get a little wet either way? I'm assuming a general humid day in SNP (the typical from late Spring to mid-Fall).
Next, when I buy a tarp, will I automatically want a bivy or bug nest, or can I get by initially with just a tarp, some basic groundsheet under me, and my sleeping bag? I don't mind some bugs, and my personal experience in the summer of Shenandoah is that the bugs suck, but aren't anywhere close to the Biblical swarms I've met in Alaska. On truly hot, muggy nights in the deep summer, people don't actually camp in bivies, do they? I just can't imagine that they breathe enough. Sorry I'm rambling here, guess I'm trying to understand if coverings like bivies and tarps are ALWAYS needed in the humid East to prevent moisture buildup, or if you can Cowboy camp (I've never tried) when there is no rain. When I've gone out West this would make sense to me, because it is so much drier.
For reference, when I first try this I will likely have a MYOG Tyvek groundsheet, and I'll probably buy a Campmor/Equinox tarp (maaayyybe will have saved the dough for an MLD or GG by then). A bivy will likely come in the form of a MYOG Tyvek as well, unless you all convince me that I will definitely, absolutely want a bug net for my face in Shenandoah in the summer. Also probably worth mentioning that I will mostly be doing weekend to 5 day trips at most for the forseeable future. Life's too busy right now to drop off the grid for weeks at a time.
THANKS for reading this ridiculously long post, and for your advice!