Thank you very much! Great thoughts.
Yes, my two (3 was a typo) friends will carry the stove/kitchen gear. They have a tent that can hold all three of us in a pinch, which has allowed me a safety margin to gain experience with tarps. With this shared equip I decided I can go ahead and get the Jam 50L or similar and everything should (I hope!) fit.
I was hoping to limit my expense for pack/bag/tarp to $300 but could go over if I get a burst of confidence and enthusiasm :-). Generally I would rather spend later when I know better what I am doing and what I prefer.
I am intrigued by quilts only I feel it might be better to wait and try that out later. I suspect that is where I might end up.
For now I'd like to use a tarp and groundcloth and not a tent. I think the bivy is interesting, and ways of including netting with a tarp. As a general rule I would prefer to have simple materials (tarp, cloth, netting) that I can learn to configure solo in different ways, rather than a high-tech fixed piece of gear like a tent. That may change as I gain some experience.
Thank you for the feedback on umbrellas. My idea to try it out as a multi-use item: for sun, light rain, to add some protection at the opening of a tarp, and to throw some netting over around my head when sleeping. Just some guesses -- I really have no idea until I try it out.
Steven, thanks for the welcome and very good (and practical) perspective. I realize I am going at this a little fast, but I have always been adventuresome and with my two hiking friends I hope it is safe. I don't have a kit of my own, having lived overseas for a long time and just recently returned to the PNW to look after my mom. So I reviewed gear lists with the idea of cutting out everything possible, borrowing what I could, buying cheapo stuff where possible, and shopping for a few major items needed. No doubt there will be a lot of lessons learned in this process!
Sara, I guess I will be postponing many of your excellent suggestions. In light of the above, any suggestions?
Ian, thanks. Yes, I will use borrowed heavy poles and see if I need two or if one is enough. I guess I will trade around with poles and umbrella.
Again many thanks to everyone, your input is precious.