Friday, December 16, 2011

An Overnighter on the Palmetto Trail, 12/16/11

Back in December of 2011 I was invited on one last camping trip of the year. Even though I really wanted to test out some new DIY gear, I knew I wouldn't be able to make it with the company Christmas party/Annual Employee Appreciation Dinner the same day as the trip. Lucky for me, the friend who invited me said he would be more than happy to test out my gear for me.

The following trip report was done by 'Muskrat' from Hammock Forums

Last year, same time frame, I got a small group of friends together to spend a night out on the Palmetto Trail in Pomaria SC. Temps for that particular weekend were below freezing which was an experience more than anticipated for one of the guys in our group. He spent the night sleeping next to the bonfire, that he kept going all night long (with the wood that was cut and stacked by the USFS from recent blowdowns), in an effort to find some trace of warmth until the long awaited arrival of the sun made itself present. Yes, he had a hammock but had always used a CCF pad and liked to hang fairly high off the ground. What did he learn from this event? Its amazing how fast down UQs and down Exped mats can be in your possession after a hot shower!

Fast forward to this year... we had just about the same crew out with us this time with exception of one from last year not joining us and one new hammocker on board. Yes, our bonfire extraordinaire did make this outing with us as he was ready for anything Mother Nature wanted to throw at him. “Bring it on!” he declared. However, Mr. Murphy (Murphy’s Law) was more present than Mother Nature was as we had temps in the mid-50’s for this outing.

Rick, Kelly, and I parked at the Pomaria Trailhead around 1:00 that afternoon and made the 1.2 mile hike to the designated campsite. This trail is a former railroad bed so its very wide in comparison to most trails I have hiked but the most notable aspect is the granite rock that you can feel as you walk. In about 30 minutes, we made our arrival to the camping area and began the search for trees in which to hang our hammocks from. Rick and Kelly were both using their WBBB 1.0 and 1.7 respectively and I was using my older Hammock Bliss double as my WBBB dbl 1.7 was on loan to Dave who would be showing up later in the afternoon. Rick was anxious to try out his new WB Winter Yetti and his new WB Mamba top quilt... understandably so seeing that he thinks “fires are a good thing”. Kelly and I got to try out (2) DIY 3-season, ¾ length underquilts that were made by a friend of mine who was looking for a review on them. Dave was borrowing my 3-season Yetti. After hammocks were set, Kelly and I got to looking at our borrowed UQs and after making a few adjustments to get a good fit on our hammocks, we were hopeful that we were in for some good zzzzz’s. Around 5:00 pm, Dave made his way into camp toting about 50 lbs. After witnessing last year’s event, Dave decided he was not going to be the next to sleep by the fire so he came prepared for every situation. After our minor jesting, Dave got his hammock for the evening in place and was ready for battle.

That evening, we each prepared our own dinners, Kelly with a very nice ribeye, Rick with a salmon-pasta dish, Dave with a Mountain House dinner (can’t remember which one), and me with 4 chipotle rubbed pork sirloins... which I offered 1 to Dave since Kelly was stuffed from his ribeye and Rick opts not to eat meat. After dinner and a few adult beverages consumed, we had a great fire-side chat then head off for some hammock time slumber.

As typical, the need to visit the dehydrated trees occurred twice that night. However, this was good as it gave me the chance to really check out this DIY UQ that I was using with my Hammock Gear 20* down topquilt. It never slipped or shifted out of place, no cold spots that I was aware of, and actually it had really good coverage. Since it was a synthetic UQ, I did notice that it did not warm up quite as fast as my Yetti but it didn’t take it long to get there either. Kelly mentioned that morning that he never got cold and it seemed to do fine for him. However, this was his first time using an UQ so his expectations were to just stay warm and not wake up cold. Kelly combined this UQ with a synthetic 30* sleeping bag he borrowed and gave the UQ a thumbs up and was now seriously considering buying one. Even though we had what I would consider mild temps, I was warm enough that I think I would have been fine down to 32* with this UQ, but would need additional padding under my lower legs. Dave claimed he slept really well in the Blackbird, much better than he did in the Hennesey Expedition he borrowed from me last year. And for Rick? No campfire sleeping this time. He was more than warm this time and is still looking forward to another outing with colder temps. However, he did thank the forest service for once again supplying firewood for our use. . . just in case.

That morning, we did the breakfast routine, broke down camp, and made the 30 minute walk back to our vehicles, and said our good-byes. Overall it was a great a chance for all of us to get out and test some new gear and have a “dad evening” with some good friends. Looking forward to the next one. . .

- Muskrat

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

2011 SC Fall Hang

Hammock Camping in the Ellicott Rock Wilderness Area

The Ellicott Rock Wilderness Area is a US Forest service managed forest that spans nearly 8,300 acres and three states. Believe it or not, but the entire wilderness area is named after a rock that is located on the east bank of the of the Chattooga River. And shocker of shockers, the rock is named after the surveyor who chiseled his mark on said rock.

Now that the formalities of 'where' are out of the way let's talk about what. The SC Upstate Fall Hang was an organized hammock camping event that was put on by some of the fine folks over at for the weekend of November 11 thru 13, 2011.

With plenty of advanced notice and a lot of luck, I was able to talk my wife into letting me take the two older girls on this little adventure. The following is a snippet of our weekend with pictures after that.

The girls, the dog, and I arrived at the parking area about 30 minutes ahead of schedule, unloaded our gear, donned our packs and embarked on the 45 minute hike to our campsite. About 15 minutes away from camp, we met 'Muskrat' and 'WFR' headed out for their second trip (making sure they had the essentials). Once we got into camp, the girls dropped their packs and went down to the river and played on the beach while I was left to set up camp. Luckily there were many trees to choose from. I was able to hang our three hammocks from four trees - the third hammock was just for show because the 5 year old didn't really spend much time in it.

After the hammocks,tarps and underquilts were situated,it was time to start thinking about supper and relax around the fire with two new camp mates - 'theriddler' and 'futbolfreak08' - before a quick night hike in search of some of the other hammock campers. To this point,for my girls, the night hike was the highlight of the trip and we talked about how much fun it was while getting them ready for BED TIME. We all get into our respective hammocks except for the dog because she hangs out in the foot-box of my top quilt to make sure my feet stay toasty warm.

Friday Night Done

Midnight comes and goes with out much fanfare. The temps are steadily dropping lower into the 30s as Saturday swings into action. My 5 year old, newly dubbed 'Donkey Kong', wakes up disoriented, scared, and crying loud enough to wake the deaf. +1 to my hammock. At 5:55am my 8 year old gets out of her hammock and invades mine giving us a combined weight of nearly 390 pounds in one DIY gathered end hammock.

The hammock was not the only gear that was put through its paces. The DIY underquilts on both my daughter's hammocks and my hammock performed better than I could ever have hoped in sub-freezing temperatures (The official hang temp for the night was 29* F). We made it through the night and we didn't wake up because we were cold. Once we did get up though it was time to get moving because it was really cold out. The following pictures, along with the links at the bottom of the page, should give you an idea of the activities of Saturday.

Pictures from Saturday and Sunday

This trip from other points of view!

Follow this link < > for the official Trip Report-Upstate SC Fall Hang Nov 11-13, 2011 or check out the video report done by 'carolinasbackpacker' here < >

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Santee State Park (aka - Fall Sprawl)

An unbelievable event

You guys and gals won't believe the tale I am about to tell. It all started one evening while perusing the Hammock Forum looking for a family friendly event to take the kids. I happen upon a thread that seems to be taking a head count of South Carolina hammock campers that would be interested in a mid-state hammock hang (many thanks Rev). My interest is peaked but I do not post initially because I don't want to get my hopes up. I follow the thread closely and try to stay up-to-date on the planning of this event.

Once the place (Santee State Park) and the date (Sept. 30 - Oct. 2) are set, I mention the event to the wife (so she won't be surprised when I ask permission later). I even go so far as to show her the park's website and pictures of the area.

At this point the story gets really interesting. She - the wife - does something totally unexpected...

She says, "If they have cabins, I would like to go."

Once I pick myself off the floor, I go back to the park's website and see what I can find out about the cabin availability. Low and behold there is a cabin available for the same weekend of the hammock group hang. After some hemming and hawing on her part, reservations were made and the planning and preparations commenced.

Let's go Hammock Camping

Fast Forward a month or so. The day of the hang had finally arrives.

Once the kids are out of school and I get home from work, we pack up the last of the necessities (aka - everything but the kitchen sink) and head for Santee State Park.

From our house, the trip takes approximately 3 hours (... a three hour tour). We get to the park before dark and have no problem finding the group site. We do, on the other hand, have some trouble finding the cabin. By the time we finally find the cabin it is dark and we are hungry and tired so we load back into the truck and head into Santee for dinner and then it is back to the cabin to get to bed.

The baby wakes very early the Saturday morning. Did I mention that we have an eleven week old with us? Anyway, the wake up call comes at 4:30am and the day begins. Once the rest of the kids are awake and breakfast is served, we pack up - all except for the wife - and head over to the group site and meet the crew, or at least those of the crew who were already awake.

The day is spent listening to the sound of the wind blowing through the trees, the waves crashing on the sandy shore, the kids laughing and playing in the water and on the trees, and people talking about hammocks and camping. There really is no better way to spend a day than relaxing around the camp site.

My oldest daughter and I decide we do not want to sleep in the cabin when we can hang our hammocks over looking the lake. We pick out a few good trees and set-up our hammocks and return to the activities of the day - playing for her and talking about hammocks.

5:00pm Saturday, October 1, 2011. The moment arrives that we have been patiently awaiting since eyeing the prize table the evening before. The Raffle Drawing!!! Rev enlists the aid of my middle daughter to help him draw and read the tickets for the prizes and many really nice pieces of gear are given away - too many are given to Land. Prizes included gear from, but not limited to: Dutch Ware, CRKT, Wilderness Logics,, and several others. **this was my middle daughter's favorite part of the trip. she really like 'playing the ticket game' **

The rest of the evening is spent setting up newly won gear, learning to splice amsteel-blue, cooking/eating, and finally sitting around a campfire with old and new friends.

8:30pm finds my oldest daughter climbing into her hammock with her bug net, top quilt, and 2/3 length underquilt (supplemented with a CCF sit pad for her feet). After prayers are said, she promptly passes out.

After the last of the campfire flames die down, I climb into my hammock (very similarly equipped as my daughter's) and fall asleep.

The weather was perfect that evening so we are able to sleep under the stars without a tarp. The recorded nighttime temperature for that night is 42*F with moderate wind most of the night, but we never new that it was cold outside thanks to our DIY underquilts and top quilts.

About the Group Site

The group site is beautiful. It overlooks the lake and has plenty of trees to easily hang 50 hammocks or more and an open field for the kids to run and play. Multiple fire rings are located through out the area as well as picnic tables and a water spigot for cooking and drinking water. For those people requiring facilities with running water, a bath-house is located within close proximity to the parking area.

Santee State Park is a gem of a park. I am very glad to have had the opportunity to hang my hammock overlooking Lake Marion

Read about this event from another perspective.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Chattooga River

With the birth of our third child closing in quickly on us and projects around the house in dire need of completion, it was looking like this trip was going to be the last trip for a while, so I had to find a pleace that was worthy of the last trip of the Season. Did I want to paddle the Edisto or do some hiking and fishing along the Chatooga? With the Chatooga river being the backdrop setting to one of the best romantic comedies of all times, it really was a simple choice. Not only that but the Edisto River is really HOT this time of year.

With a plan in place we (me, Penny - the dog, and the "The Doctor" - a friend from church) set out for a stretch of camping sites along the Chatooga River. With schedules being as they are, we were not able to pin down a good weekend until the second weekend in June for the "LAST TRIP OF THE SEASON", or at least the last trip for a while with out the kids :).

chattooga riverOn Friday, June 10, 2011 we loaded up the truck and started on our 2+ hour voyage. The trip thru Oconee County was a little disconcerting - It was raining buckets thru Seneca and Walhalla. Once we headed up the mountain though the skies started clearing up and it was nothing but blue skies and rainbows (well no rainbows but blue skies).We finally made it to the Burrells Ford parking area around 6:40pm and were on the Chatooga Trail by 7:00pm. After a short hike in temps that hovered in the mid 80s, we got to our camping site.

camping with hammocksBecause "The Doctor" was new to hammock camping, set up was an exercise in the basics of camping site selection and tarp/hammock set up. Even with the tutorial, our tarps and hammocks were up in no time and we were able to start relaxing around the fire. Dinner that night was steak and potatoes, The steak was thin cut ribeye grilled satay style directly over the coals while the potatoes were boiled over the open flame of the campfire. The sound of the river and a distant thunder storm lulled us to sleep the first night.

The next morning we were up at 7:30am and after cooking oatmeal over my diy Venom alcohol stove we were up the river trying our hand at trout fishing. Unfortunately both of the rod-n-reels and all of the lures were defective so we didn't catch any fish. So we decided to head back to camp for a snack and then head out on the trail in search of some waterfalls. As you can see from the pics below, we were successful in this venture.

Saturday afternoon on the way back from King Creek Falls the skies unloaded on us about 20 minutes from camp. It was really unfortunate that it started raining. The only thing to do was test out the hammocks for an afternoon nap. The meal that evening was tuna and mexican rice burritos. Again the sound of the river supplied the soundtrack for the evening.

chattooga riverSunday morning found us in no hurry to break camp but because we were hammock camping, take down took no time. Penny - the dog - was able to get a little site seeing in before hitting the trail back to the parking area and the drive home.

chattooga riverchattooga

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Goat Island 2011

The Goat Island hang was a HUGE success. The weekend before Memorial Day weekend was definitely the right time for this hang.

Addison and I decided to get an early start on this hang so we packed up some gear in the canoe and kayak and paddled out to the island Thursday night (mainly to scope out the island and pick out a good camping site). After taking an accidental swim, we finally make it over to the island and scope out some possible camping sites and get our hammock set up and start a fire so I can dry out. I finally get dried out about 10:45pm and we get some sleep.

Friday morning we were up at 6:30am and paddling away by 6:45am in order for me to be at work in time. After a days work, we were back on the island thanks to Swampfox providing shuttle service.

Friday evening started out as a meet-and-greet and reunion of sorts with people jockeying for the best camping sites and then it was time to start thinking about food. Dinner friday night was a fend-for-yourself type of thing (we dined fairly well on filet mignon :)). Saturday morning the kids woke up around 7:30am and were in the water and playing on the beach. The adults took a little longer to get motivated, but we soon got stirring and the sounds and smells of sausage and eggs frying on the cast-iron skillet filled the air. Saturday activities consisted of letting the kids swim and then Swampfox fired up the boat and we took turns being pulled on the tubes and skis.

The Saturday night meal was a beautiful thing. We all pitched-in ingredients and thanks to chef Muskrat we ate like KINGS on


Dessert (Blackberry Cobbler and Peach Upside-Down Cake) was the icing on the cake provided by Swampfox. The final count on attendees for this event was close to 20 (7 of which were children).

After dinner it was time to cool off in the lake until almost dark and then we all sat around the campfire while the kids chased and caught frogs. The kids didn't hit the hammocks until 10pm. They played hard all day and they slept hard all night.

Sunday morning was a sad day indeed. We started packing up and saying good bye to old and new friends alike.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this hang happen. If I have anything to do about it, the Goat Island Hang will definitely take place on an annual basis.

... as a mater-of-fact, I have already started planning.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Parsons Mountain

In preparation for our Goat Island trip, I decided to take the girls camping to make sure they were indeed ready to "primitive" camp. Friday after work I loaded up the kids and the dog and headed out to Parson's Mountain campground. The good thing about this campground is the proximity to the house and the price ($7 per night) along with some nice hiking, horse, mountain bike, and ohv trails.

We got to the site early enough to set up and have plenty of daylight to let the kids play. A friend and his kids beat us out there and were already unpacking. Being a ground dweller, my friend and his kids occupied the tent pad in our camping site while I chose a spot a little further back from the road and any of the other camping sites.

The nighttime temps were in the mid 60's and very comfortable while daytime temps in the mid to upper 80's were tolerable with the shade and the breeze.

Activities for the weekend consisted of eating, canoeing, climbing trees, and sleeping.

Even though we forgot the syrup for the pancakes :) , it was a GREAT trip.

I can't believe we forgot the SYRUP!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mt. Mitchell, NC

This trip had been in the planning stages for a little over a year and the time was drawing near for us (me, my wife's uncle, wife's relative's husband, and his friend) to go. With less than 2 weeks to go, what do I do?

Magic Kingdom

I'm goin' to Disney World!

We got in the family cruiser and motored south for a little while.  It was a wonderful trip with the wife and kids but that's not what this report is about.

After returning from Disney, it was time to start packing, and finish making some of the gear I would need on the trip. At 3:30am on Friday morning I was finally done and not a moment too soon. Now all that was left to do was make it through another day at work and then we would be on our way.

The trip started off very smoothly.  We loaded all the gear into Ronnie's truck and started the 3 hour tour. It really was like a tour. Uncle Ronnie pointed out facts about the different places of interest on our way to and along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Travelling along the parkway was like stepping back in time by two months. With the elevation change the temperature dropped a total of 30 degrees. The trees had yet to put on their foliage and the dogwood trees were in full bloom - beautiful. The 23 miles from I-26 and the Blue Ridge Parkway to the camping sites took just over one hour.

When we finally made it to the camping sites the outside temperature was 41 degrees Fahrenheit with winds topping out at 45 mph. Needless to say this made putting up the tarp a little tricky but luckily there was still some daylight left. Dinner that night was "Low Country Frogmore Beaufort Boil Stew". Yum, Yum! At 2:30am the wind was still roaring but the inside of the hammock was toasty warm. A brief trip out of the comfort of the hammock showed stars that were so thick it looked as though they were overlapping.

The wind continued until 3:00am Saturday morning but I never new it. Saturday was wonderful. The temperature topped out at 67 degrees and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Better yet, the wind didn't start back up until well after sunset. The activities for the day consisted of; breakfast, hike to the top of the mountain (from the parking area of course), nap, lunch, hang out around the campfire, dinner (cube steak and sweet potatoes cooked in cream of chicken in the dutch oven) and then blissful sleep.

...and finally, the video

Here is a list of the hammock gear used for the trip:

  • Kelty Noah's Tarp 12x12
  • DIY 1.1 oz Double Layer Hammock w/ adjustable ridgeline
  • Whoopie Slings
  • Tree huggers
  • Dutch Clips
  • "The Toaster" underquilt
  • modified mummy bag/top quilt

Friday, April 1, 2011

Backyard Trip Report

Fri, March 18, 2011

low temperature 41*F

9:45pm - The kids and I hung our hammocks under the tree house to enjoy the clear sky and the almost full moon. 11:45pm - the youngest (5) woke-up needing to come inside. Once inside, ends up in bed with Mommy. 6:30am - the oldest (8) was cold so I adjusted her tq and she went right back to sleep. 8:30am - We woke to the sound of the 5 yr old trying to get in her hammock.

Awesome time with the girls!