Day 1 – 1/21/2011
At the last minute (yesterday to be exact) I learned of a hammock hang in the Ocala Natl Forest. So here I lay at almost midnight.
Arrived about 5:30pm and got setup. Met folks and had dinner followed by getting to know everyone around the campfire.
Looking forward to tomorrow and checking out everyone’s gear and the various hammocks.
Day 2 – 1/22/2011
I slept very well even though I didn’t feel tired until about 1am. I got up at 7 but jumped back in the hammock and got up again at 9:30. The night wasn’t bad at all and there were plenty of night birds and frogs.
After breakfast I headed out and picked up the Florida Trail for a nice little 3.5 mile hike to another lake and back to the site. I fixed up some Spam and garlic mashed potatoes. Love that stuff. I took Buddy Buffalo with me and he had a wonderful time. He really likes getting on the trail and I had to race to keep up with him. He was one happy bovine!
After the hike I walked around the lake to see what setups everyone was using. It was cool to see a varied collection of hammocks, tarps, and other related equipment. Most major manufacturers were represented and it was cool to finally put eyes and hands on some of the stuff I’d one read and heard about. I finally got to check out the Warbonnet Blackbird and fell in love with the Trail to Tree Switchback hammock.
We have a wonderful group of people which makes for an incredible inaugural event. With folks from all over the state and even some that traveled in from TN and SC I was amazed at how well everyone meshed together like one big family. If you said you forgot something hands shot out with the missing item. Everyone was so helpful and supportive sharing their gear, food, etc.
There were a lot more kayaks than I’d expected. That thought hadn’t even crossed my mind. Had I learned of the event more than the day before I would’ve thrown the yak on the truck and taken it with me. It was a beautiful area and I know the guys that got on the water and a wonderful time.
Now we’re gathering around the fire and the gumbo is on. There’s even a pizza in the dutch oven. It’s been cool hanging (literally) with everyone and checking out the gear folks are using.
With the shrimp boil and gumbo underway we started breaking out every stove you could think of and fired up Stove Alley. We had stoves of every size, shape, and material. We had commercial stoves and DIY stoves. It was a stove lover’s dream. I’ve been lusting after the Vargo Titanium wood stove for some time and was thrilled when someone brought it out. It was a virgin stove that was a Christmas gift and it was lit for the first time at the hang.
I ended up staying tonight which wasn’t planned. To say the food was phenomenal would be an understatement. And abundant doesn’t scratch the surface either. The low shrimp boil was massive and the gumbo was delicious. It didn’t end there, though. The dutch ovens were working in earnest pumping out tantalizing desserts and even another dinner round of pork and beans followed by more desserts.
After dinner we were treated to a beautiful sunset over the lake which couldn’t have made for a better setting for such a cool weekend.
The fire felt great and the fellowship was awesome. Really a great group of people. Now I’m in the hammock to stay warm. It was 34 at about 8. Should be fun!
Day 3 – 1/23/2011
Wow. What a night! The temperature dropped like a rock. Fortunately I slept very warmly and really didn’t feel like getting out of bed. When I heard people talking and looked out the hammock, though, I knew I couldn’t pass up the view. The temp dropped to 25.5 degrees overnight and the lake looked absolutely gorgeous as the fog wafted across it with the sun gently rising above.
I was disappointed that I couldn’t get better pictures to capture the moment but I took so many pictures last night that my camera battery was dead. Why didn’t I bring a spare? Lesson learned.
After an amazing breakfast one of the guys and I got a ride to the FT trailhead on 19. It was a very enjoyable 2.7 mile hike back to the lake. I really had a good time and the scenery was very nice.
I got my site broken down around 1 and hit the road for the drive back to Jax. It took me a little over 2 hours since I had to stop for lunch and I can’t really drive past Gander Mountain without stopping. 🙂
I had a wonderful time this weekend but had a wonderful reunion getting home. My son was thrilled when I walked in and couldn’t wait to tell me how they’d camped out under the dining room table while I was gone. It wasn’t long before we had a tent setup in the living room and he was laying it it watching TV through the bug screen. 😀
Can’t wait to get out again! Happy trails!