Once again, the lesson is to try your gear.
This weekend I took a solo hike for exercise and for curiosity to see where the old logging road visible on Google Maps went to.
I programmed my GPS so I could be sure of being on the locations in the event that the ground signs were too subtle.
I hiked to 2 points. Less than half a mile from the car and perhaps 200' elevation gain I found a dead-end logging road that had nearly disappeared.
So I decided to climb to the top of the hill the road was on. Then I decided to follow the ridge to a saddle where I would join a trail that I've travelled many times. From there I went on to the favorite destination (an old B-17 crash site) where I rested for 20 minutes then returned to the saddle.
At this point I'd hiked 3 hours and gained 1000' elevation reaching 10,200'. Temperature was perhaps 55F with variable breeze in the trees. The saddle had some trees and pine needles and I decided I'd try setting up a poncho shelter for practice, like I'd seen on YouTube.
First discovery - the soil layer on my mountains is about one inch deep. This means putting in tent stakes requires trial and error to find a spot between rocks to get the stake in very far. (I already knew this from backpacking trips with real tents)
Second discovery - the pine needle layer is relatively thin. In a real bivy situation I'd have to gather many, many more needles for a decent insulating layer.
3rd discovery - the 15 year old I've been hiking with had spent some alone time * cutting my kit's ridgeline into 6" to 8" pieces and poorly melting the ends. So my paracord ridgeline (if needed) was a knotty mess if I were to tie the pieces together. Fortunately I had a roll of twine to use though I didn't setup using a ridgeline. (tried the plowpoint and the square-held-up-by-the-hood arrangements)
4th discovery- military poncho is too short to keep both head and feet under cover (I'm 5' 9") Even diagonal doesn't really work well.
5th discovery- Even after putting on a stocking cap, fleece shirt and a BDU coat, after lying down on the needles under the poncho, the air movement in the openings around the poncho made me COLD after about 10 min. I'd sweated up my clothes climbing and hiking and didn't change out of the damp clothes for this exercise. (With me I had a polypro long sleeve top I could have put on and removed my damp shirt. And I had rain pants and a plastic rain parka that also stayed in my pack. )
I did not do anything with fire as we have a burn ban in effect.
What did I learn? Poncho shelter would make for a really miserable night out unless a LOT more effort was put into getting dry and insulated. And if it's raining, you're going to be lying on your side with your legs curled up. Build padding accordingly. Maybe have a large trash bag designated for foot covering as they stick out in the cold/rain.
Need more practice with the poncho itself and have replaced the ridgeline material in my kit.
* Young man likes the woods but isn't fit enough to hike for long. He quit after 1 hour on two trips (yes, uphill). So on one trip I expected he'd quit. He did. So we cooked ramen for him to eat (he loves ramen!) and I left him with food, water, a poncho, my kit of stakes, pre-tied paracord loops for stakes&grommets, ridgecord and a roll of twine. Instructions were that if he wanted he could put up a poncho shelter. Feel free to cut the TWINE as you desire. I went on up the mountain and returned 2 hours later. Found him asleep rolled in the poncho. No shelter assembled. No words about what he'd done to my cordage. Found the damage on this last trip.
His stepdad says that's what he does. Tell him he can do something - he won't do it. Tell him he can't do something, and he'll find a way to do it even if it means getting in trouble when found out.
My lesson- check your gear carefully after someone (especially that young fellow) hands it back.