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.