Goin’ Topless…

Got your attention, didn’t I? OK, now get your minds out of the gutter. Nobody’s gettin’ nekkid on this blog. If you haven’t noticed it’s a family friendly place.

Not too long ago Jenna asked me why we never hung out in our hammocks when it was raining even though we always put our tarps up. For the most part that’s just the way things have worked out. I’m one of those folks that actually enjoys hearing rain on my tarp, as long as there’s no lightening or high wind involved. I’ve hung through both. More than once. Not fun.

On the other side of the coin is another question…why do we always hang our tarps up if there’s no rain in the forecast. I can think of three reasons, the first being to practice and become proficient in setting up your gear, day or night…yeah, sometimes we wait until dark to set up, even though it’s easier and more convenient do it while it’s still light out. Reasons two and three are dew and frost. Dew is always an issue here in the deep south. Well, except for the nights the temperatures get below freezing then we have to deal with frost. Waking up coated with either isn’t much fun and results in having to dry gear out for a while before it can be put away. However, every now and then we get a night or two when the humidity is low and the leaves on the trees keep the little bit of dew that we might get from making to the ground in our hangin’ spot out back.

This past weekend conditions were almost perfect for hangin’ out and goin’ topless…errr, tarpless. We hung up our hammocks early…

Tarpless

We waited until moon was high in the sky to climb in for a night’s sleep under the stars.

Hangerz

Too bad I didn’t have a camera capable of taking a good shot of the moon and stars through leaves and limbs. We woke up the next morning dew-free and able to see the sun peeking through the trees.

For some reason it took longer than usual to take our hammocks down, but I was able to get a nice shot of the fall leaves. Still haven’t quite figured out why it took so long to get our hammocks down…

Up

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Test Drive…

It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to go play in the woods. Between summer’s heat and a case of plantar fasciitis showing up in my right foot in June, I haven’t gotten out much. Fortunately the weather is cooling and I’ve done the stretches the doctor told me to do, bought a couple of pairs of shoe inserts and wore the night splint and the foot is feeling a good bit better so it seemed like a good time to give it a test drive and see how it would hold up under a load over a few miles. I was in the mood to go to the mountains (OK, I needed a YHC fix) and the trail up to Raven Cliffs Falls seemed like just the ticket.

Ashley had a slow weekend at school so I asked her if she wanted to go and suggested that she invite Jared. I sweetened the deal a little bit by offering to come up Friday night and cook a pot of chili for Ashley, Jared, her roommates and a few of their friends. It was an offer they just couldn’t turn down.

I had to run out to Lake Oconee for work Friday morning but by 11:00 I was headed toward Young Harris. I planned to make a quick stop in Commerce for gas and some lunch but the stop got extended by a few minutes when I noticed a Lodge factory store that carried both Lodge cast iron and Big Green Egg products in the in the strip mall behind the Quick Trip on Hwy 441 near the Interstate. There was no way I couldn’t go in. Talk about being in heaven.  I could have done some serious damage in there…but I didn’t and I got back on the road quickly before I gave in to temptation.

Once in Young Harris, me and Ashley hopped in her car and headed to town to get chili fixin’s. I didn’t know she was going to kidnap me, take me to Gibson’s and make me drink a peanut butter milkshake on the way back to the college.

As the chili cooked I has flashback of making pots of chili for ‘chili parties’ in the dorm during my own days at YHC.  The chili must have been pretty good since more than half of a double batch disappeared and the kids were all piled up on the sofa, chairs and floor and nearly asleep while watching Gladiator on video.

Chili

Saturday morning I was up bright and early and ready to go. I wanted to be on the road by 10:00 so told Ashley and Jared to meet me at 9:00…hey, it wasn’t that long ago that I was in college myself and never got to bed early on a Friday night either. I took advantage of the spare time to repack my pack and ditch a few items that I decided that I didn’t really need and that were adding weight and taking up pack space.

By 11:00 we were pulling into the parking lot at the Raven Cliffs trail trailhead, loading up and getting ready to walk.

Trailhead Sign

AJ

I’d read that bears were active in the area back in the spring, particularly around the large campsites near the parking lot. Guess they still are…

Bear Sign

The 2 ½-mile trail back to the falls is generally described in most guides as easy to moderate with the exception of the last couple hundred yards leading up to the cliffs and the falls and I wouldn’t disagree. There were a few rocky and rooty patches and some little roller hills but overall it’s a nice trail and, as such, it gets a LOT of weekend traffic.

Trail

Hikers

Once at the cliffs Ashley and Jared climbed the hill to see the upper falls back in the cliffs.

Falls

I’d been there before about 30 years ago so I stayed back at the base of the cliffs and let them have all the fun. OK, yeah, I wimped out. Get over it. We hung around below the falls for a bit, drank some water, had a snack and watched the expressions on other folks’ faces as they approached the hill up to the upper falls.

After a short break we headed back down the trail to find a campsite. We’d noticed several campsites with good trees on the way in. It’s sort of funny how one’s thought process of looking for a good campsite changes when camping in a hammock instead of a tent. Tenters want flat, level ground with no rocks or roots. Hammock campers just want two good trees, not too far apart and not too close. Ground not flat? No problem. Not level? No problem. Rocks and roots? No problem.

It didn’t take long to find a campsite with good trees about half a mile back down the trail from the falls. We were at one end of a huge campsite and we were all surprised that we didn’t have company by dark and we ended up having the whole place to ourselves. We set up camp, gathered up some firewood then got down to the important business of relaxing for a while before supper.

Campsite

Hammocks

Don’t feed the bears!

Selfie

The view from my hammock was pretty nice…

Feets

View

Ashley got to try her luck at boiling water to rehydrate her supper over a home-made alcohol stove and Jared was able to refine his technique a bit. Fortunately there were no melted freezer bags this time around and everybody was happy.

Supper

I got the fire going but we let it burn out after an hour or so…we were all ready for some hammock time and a good sleep.

Campfire

I was up with the sun this morning but I let Ashley and Jared sleep in a bit…

Sleeper
Once they were up and moving we ate a Pop Tart and granola bar breakfast, packed up and headed back out, passing lots of day hikers heading in…and with the drive back to YHC, another fun weekend adventure came to an end (OK, except for telling the story).
So…how did the foot hold up? So far, so good, no major pain that I’ve noticed. The real test will be when I get out of bed tomorrow morning.

Posted in Alcohol Stove, Backpack Stove, Backpacking, Big Green Egg, Camping, Hammock, Hammock Camping, Hiking, Raven Cliff Falls, Raven Cliffs, Young Harris, Young Harris College | Leave a comment

New York, New York – From Jenna’s Point of View

Sometimes it’s fun to look at the world from someone else’s point of view. It’s especially fun to look at the world through the eyes of someone a good bit younger as they often see things we overlook or are willing to look at things from a different angle. Jenna’s photos have captured my interest lately. Like most teens these days she takes plenty of ‘selfies’ and candid photos of her friends but she has a pretty darn good eye for the world around her too.

We took a quick day trip to New York City yesterday. Rather than post a narrative of the trip, I thought it’d be a lot more fun to let you experience our adventure through her eyes and lens…with just a little narrative from me…

The adventure begins…

1 Da Plane

2 Da Girls

Back on the ground…

3 Graffiti

4 Wall

Hello…

5 Hello

Subway fun…

7 Subway

Manhattan…

6 5th Ave

Lunch.  New York style…

8 Pizza

Lookin’ up…

9 Buildings

Windows…

10 Window

Places to go…

11 Places

12 Sign

13 Buildings

14 Buildings

Central Park…

15 Park Bridge

16 Vines

Urban Jungle…

17 Urban Jungle

18 Tree Bark

Many of the benches in Central Park had little dedication plaques attached.  Most were dedicated to family or friends passed on.  Some offered wise words…

19 Wise Words

And some just made you say ‘Awwwwww’…

20 Awwww

21 Buildings

At the Central Park Z00 we felt a little fenced in at times…

22 Fence

23 Temple

It was a little cloudy in the afternoon…

24 Clouds

25 Skyline

Lots of water in the park…

26 Pond 1

27 Pond 2

30 Pond 3

We saw some urban wildlife…

29 Park Rat

Ground transportation…

28 Subway

We found a couple of horses for Ashley in the subway station just before we flew off into the sunset…

31 Subway Horses

32 LaGuardia Sunset

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INTRODUCING…!

Start, stop, start, stop…procrastinate…start again, stop, wait, think a bit, start, stall, stall some more, download and format the pictures, stall some more, stop, start yet again…

That’s a quick summary about how writing this entry has gone…with a few more stops, starts, stalls and iterations of thinking thrown in. If I could invent a way to transfer thoughts directly to an electronic document during my daily commute to and from work I’d have this blog writing thing whipped…and probably get myself in really big trouble.

So what is it that I’m trying to write about that’s giving me fits? Geocaching. OK, not just geocaching but Groundspeak’s new Geocaching Intro app for iPhone and Android. Sorry Windows Phone folks, there isn’t a version for you…well, not yet anyway. This shouldn’t be giving me fits right? Right…but it has been…but now that I actually have more than a few words on the monitor I best just put the frustration behind me and go with the flow.

Intro

Here’s the deal, Groundspeak, Inc., the parent company of Geocaching.com, recently released a new ‘Geocaching Intro’ app. Geocaching Intro is primarily designed for folks that want to give geocaching a try without having to pay $10 for the full Geocaching app or pay $30 a year for a Geocaching.com ‘premium membership’ for use with an app by another developer in order to not be limited to downloading just three geocaches a day without the premium membership. Simply download the app, set up your basic membership via the app (its free!) and GO!

So what’s the catch? First of all, Geocaching Intro doesn’t have as many features as the full-blown Geocaching app – not that big of a deal for me since more often than not I don’t use all of the available features in any given app. Second, the user is limited to ‘traditional’ caches instead of being able to download the cache info for the various other types of caches which are available…again, not that big of a deal…especially for beginner geocachers.

I’ve heard some pretty good things about the app from some fairly experienced cachers so I downloaded the app onto my phone a couple of weeks ago to give it a try. I’ve had time to hunt for a dozen or so caches with it and so far I like it pretty well.

How does it work? Here’s a quick rundown of the basics, assuming you’ve set up a basic Geocaching.com account…

Once the app opens and gets past the intro page it will pull up a map centered on your location and populate the map with nearby caches. The app will identify three ‘recommended’ caches (green cache symbol) and show other nearby caches (green or gray dots).  For folks that have already done a but if caching, the app will also show the caches you’ve found and logged (yellow smilies).

Local Caches

To select a cache to hunt tap the symbol or dot to get to the cache page…

Location

Swipe the gray bar with the cache name at the bottom to get to the cache information including difficulty, terrain, cache size, the cache description. Tap on ‘Activity’ to get to recent cache logs and ‘Hint’ to see any hints that might be available.

Details

To start your search tap the ‘Start’ arrow on the right side of the screen to get the straight-line distance and direction to the selected cache as well as a ‘compass bar’ at the bottom of the map

Distance and Direction

Navigate to the general location of the cache then center the orange line on the compass bar in the middle of the screen to navigate to the cache location. There’s also an option to bring up a compass by tapping the orange arrow that will show up at the end of the compass bar when turned away from the cache. One thing to note…the compass face will always be oriented toward the north but the orange end of the needle will point to the cache…sorta counter-intuitive for experienced compass users, not so much for folks more familiar with a handheld GPS receiver.

Compass

As much as I’d like to say if you just follow the arrow it will take you directly to the cache. Sometimes it will but more often than not, because of limitations of cell phone GPS antennas, you’ll have to get close and then use your intuition or ‘geosense’ to actually find the cache. Once you find the cache…or maybe you don’t find it and give up…tap ‘Log Your Experience’ on the info page, select ‘Found It” or ‘Did Not Find”, whichever the case may be, type in your log entry, then tap ‘Post’ at the top right corner of the screen to submit your log to the Geocaching.com database and you’re on to your next cache.

Log It

All in all the app is pretty easy to use. It only takes a few minutes to learn the features well enough to get started and even though there are limitations when compared to the full Geocaching app, there’s still plenty there to keep one busy for a fairly long time.

Sooo…GET OUT! And give geocaching a try!

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What Will Your Verse Be?

mrbream:

I read several blogs by other folks, some are written by friends, some by internet acquaintances. Every once in a while I’ll come across a post that just jumps out at me…this is one of them. Wouldn’t it be great if today’s teachers could really teach their passion, to inspire their students and really get them interested in LEARNING rather than having to teach to pass a standardized test? Read on…

Originally posted on Teach with Class:

I have no idea how many times I have seen Dead Poet’s Societybut every time I do I get tears in my eyes when the students stand on their desks and say “O Captain! My Captain!” to honor Mr. Keating when he is being forced to leave his teaching job because he taught students how to think and not simply how to conform. Mr. Keating Ironically and sadly, this movie also deals with suicide.

Mr. Keating inspired in me the type of teacher I wanted to become. He taught me that teaching literature is opening a window to the soul rather than explaining words on a page. He taught me that literature is best learned by incorporating it into life rather than having your head buried in a textbook. He taught me that literature is relevant to every generation; a great teacher can unlock these timeless themes to…

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Cape San Blas 2014 – It Was The Best Of Times, It Was The Worst Of Times…

OK, I don’t think any vacation or break from everyday life could be considered ‘the worst of times’ but sometimes vacations come with challenges…and this one sure did.

We decided to take a short trip to the beach this year. ConnieLou found us a place to stay on Cape San Blas, Florida. We discovered the Cape San Blas/Port St. Joe/Mexico Beach area a few years back. The area is much more laid back than Panama City Beach, Destin, Gulf Shores and other destination towns further west along the Gulf Coast. There are no high-rise condos, no outlet malls, no go cart tracks or even any mini-golf courses…just the beach and a good dose of ‘Old Florida’.

Our plan was to get the oil changed in the car Wednesday morning, run a few last minute errands Wednesday afternoon, leave Thursday morning, spend Friday and Saturday chillin’ on the beach, eat out in the evenings and then head home late Sunday morning. I was hoping to fish a little bit but mainly I wanted to spend a lot of time playing in the ocean with the kids or doing as little as possible.

Everything went exactly according to plan, in a general sense, but the devil is in the details. We got the oil changed…along with buying four new tires, front brakes, rotors, a brake light and a fuel system service. $875 and a bit of wailing and gnashing of teeth later the car was once again safe for the road. The trip down was as uneventful as a six-hour trip with four people and two dogs in a Honda Accord could be. We made a pit stop for the pups and a stop for lunch but all in all, it was smooth sailin’ on the new tires.

Car Pups

Friday and Saturday were spent playing in the surf or relaxing in a beach chair. I had hoped to flyfish a bit but the surf was rolling on the Gulf side of the peninsula and I was too lazy to find a spot over in the bay. As much as I love to fish, I was pretty content to chill on the beach and play in the water.

Girls and Pups

We try to make supper a bit of a treat while on vacation. This time around we decided on Indian Pass Raw Bar in Indian Pass, The Sand Bucket on Cape San Blas and Toucan’s in Mexico Beach. Click on the links to check out my Eat Out reviews. We did breakfast and lunch in the townhouse each day but changed that up on Saturday when I stumbled across Weber’s Little Donut Shop out on the cape and brought back some glazed croissants. Too bad we didn’t find Weber’s on Thursday!

Another little problem that would set the stage for our drive home cropped up Saturday morning as I was leaving Weber’s…the car air conditioning died. You do the math, late July, deep south, no AC, gonna be a lonnnng ride home…and it was. Too bad we didn’t have a wifi connection at the condo or at least a good 3G signal…the AC crisis might have been averted. Once home ConnieLou did a Google search which led to a couple of YouTube videos which led to a trip to a local auto parts store to pick a part which led to about 15 minutes spent elbow deep under the glove box cussing one of Honda’s designers that put the AC blower motor resistor up under there but also led to a revived car AC system.

Can we go back to the beach now?

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Dangit Robby!

Anyone else a fan of the Calvin and Hobbes comic strips? The other day my buddy Robby shared a story on Facebook about Calvin’s last day and his passing of his beloved stuffed tiger Hobbes to his grandson. You can read the story HERE but be prepared with a box of KleenEx or at least an absorbent shirt sleeve, it’s a bit of a tear jerker. I read the story and, like some of the others that commented on Robby’s post, I found myself a bit choked up and…OK…teary eyed. As I finished reading I saw ConnieLou pull into the driveway. Once inside she greeted me, gave me a puzzled look and asks “What’s wrong?” After a couple of tries I finally managed to croak out “Calvin died.” The resulting conversation went something like this:

ConnieLou: “Calvin who?”

Me: “Calvin…Calvin and Hobbes Calvin.”

ConnieLou: “The comic strip, Calvin?”

Me: “Yeah.”

ConnieLou: “You mean they quit writing the comic strip?”

Me: “No, Calvin died.”

ConnieLou: Calvin died?

Me: “Yeah, Calvin died.”

ConnieLou: “But…”

Me: “Here, read this…”

Needless to say she thought I was a little more off my rocker than usual.

As I drove into work yesterday morning I had some time to think about the story and why it affected me like it did. I’ve had a similar experience a number of times before but with different triggers. The first time that I can recall happened when Ashley was 13 or so. I was headed to the playroom to use the computer and I noticed her standing in front of the mirror in the bathroom putting on makeup. Since that’s a relatively normal occurrence for girls that age I didn’t think much of it…until I got in the playroom and found myself staring at a bunch of her toys, many of which hadn’t been played with in a while. Although she still played with a few of her toys some, I knew her days of being ‘little’ were behind her.

There have been other occurrences, some centered around toys, some around music and most around some life event or milestone like a graduation or learning to drive a car…something that signaled passing of time and reminded me that they’re not only getting older but growing up.

I’ve told ConnieLou a number of times over the past few years that we’d better get used to the idea that they are growing up and will be out doing their own thing sooner than we think. I think I should probably be listening to that myself…but apparently I’m not.

Yeah, my daughters are growing up and I don’t like it. Not one bit. I want them to stay little and be full of imagination and adventure, like Calvin and his pal Hobbes…and I know, like Calvin in the story, they can’t stay little… and that just sucks.

Dangit Robby! Why did you have to post that link?

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The ‘Great American Backyard Campout’ Mega Giveaway

mrbream:

This is a reblog-worthy blog for Get Out! if I’ve ever seen one. Its almost time for the Great American Backyard Campout! Take the kids outside, pitch a tent, hang up your hammocks or ‘cowboy camp” under the stars…doesn’t matter how you do it, Get Out!!

BTW, follow the links on the 365 Atlanta Family post for chances to win some cool outdoor gear.

Originally posted on 365 Atlanta Family:

great American Backyard Campout

We are excited about the Great American Backyard Campout, and we want to share that excitement with you! In an effort to encourage families to get outside together more, we are giving away a Mega Prize Package of outdoor gear and activities for the whole family. Here is what you can win!!

Prizes from our HEADLINE SPONSORS

FRIENDS OF GEORGIA STATE PARKS AND HISTORIC SITES -  Georgia State Parks are our families go-to location for fun and excitement outdoors.  There is much to see and do – from camping or staying in a cottage, to fishing, canoeing or kayaking, Geocaching, and so much more.  Win a Friends on Georgia State Parks Annual Family Membership, which includes two annual park passes, discounts at Historic Sites, two nights free camping, discounts for various purchases, and Georgia’s Great Places magazine. With a few additional gifts from Friends of Ga…

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It Was a Dark and Stormy Night…

Anyone else remember the Peanuts cartoon strip with Snoopy sitting on top of his doghouse with a typewriter working on his novel? He begins with the phrase “It was a Dark and Stormy Night” and never gets much further. It seemed like a good opener for this blog entry. You’ve pretty much guessed where this entry is going but we’ll get to the dark and stormy night part shortly, there’s more to tell. That’s foreshadowing for you literary types.

So I got a new backpack for Christmas last year, a ULA Catalyst to be specific.

Catalyst

One problem, until this weekend I haven’t had a chance to use it for its intended purpose. Instead, it’s been used for temporary storage for parts of my hammock camping gear and transport of said gear to ‘my ‘ trees at the edge of the woods behind our house. Life just hasn’t given up the time to go much further. I wanted to try to squeeze in a quick overnight trip somewhere close before it got to be too hot, both during the day and at night, to be comfortable.

I was looking over my calendar a few weekends ago and realized that I didn’t have anything going on this weekend and it would likely be my only free weekend into at least early July…and the wheels began to turn. I thought about taking a solo trip but most of the time it’s more fun to have someone along for the trip to have someone to talk to, someone to give you that extra bit of encouragement when you’re tired of walking or even someone to share the misery of walking through a stretch of woods that’s more infested with skeeters than the Everglades on a hot July evening (a little more foreshadowing there). I decided to ask Ashley’s boyfriend Jared if he’d like to go. Jared has spent the last year studying at Georgia Tech and is currently working an internship and hasn’t had a lot of time to get out and go play in the woods either so he was eager to go. Now it’s not exactly a secret that my ‘adventures’ often involve strange twists of fate, but I’m not too sure he knew exactly what he was getting himself into. Hey, things happen, right? We decided to head down to Chattahoochee Bend State Park and hike the River Trail up to the north platform campsites. Jenna and I hiked up there last year and camped for a night so I had a pretty good feel for what the hike would be like and where some good trees were to hang our hammocks from.

As is normal for me, the trip started with several stops. I needed to pick up a couple of last minute food items and a bottle of Heet for fuel for our alcohol stoves. Heet is a gas-line antifreeze for cars and is basically methyl alcohol. It’s a great fuel for small alcohol stoves because it burns clean and is widely available at many grocery stores, convenience stores and auto parts stores…except for the grocery store and three convenience stores that we stopped at. I finally picked up a bottle at an auto parts store and we were on our way.

Once at The Bend, we paid for the campsite and parking fees, drove to the trailhead, shouldered our packs and hit the dusty trail. Actually it was more of a muddy trail since it had rained the day before. The forests along the trail took on a very different appearance since our last trip to The Bend last fall. Since it’s early summer and we’ve had plenty of rain, the vegetation and foliage along the trail were lush and green rather than sporting fall colors.

Trail

Woods

The hike in was mostly uneventful for the first 4 or 5 miles. We saw deer, squirrels and couple of armadillos and were generally having a good time as we walked…but something changed. We’d seen and heard a few skeeters as we walked along and picked a few ticks off our socks and legs, But nothing major.  However, as we got into the last mile or so of our hike, we were mobbed by skeeters. If you stopped walking 20 or more of the little buggers would land on any exposed skin and they were constantly whining in our ears. At one point Jared, who was walking behind me was swatting ‘em off my shoulders and killing 4 or 5 with every slap. By the time we got to the restroom shed at the end of the trail we were seriously considering turning around and walking out because a night with all those skeeters would be miserable at best, even with bugnets surrounding our hammocks. Fortunately, as we got close to the campsites along the river, the skeeter population dissipated significantly and we decided to stay.

We set up our hammocks, bugnets and tarps…

Hammocks

Then we dug through our packs for our food bags and cook kits. We decided to keep things simple and simply boil water and use freezer bag cooking methods to rehydrate a couple of dehydrated meals I’d made a while back. It was Jared’s first time using an alcohol stove so I walked him through the process and gave him some pointers. One thing I failed to mention was not to get the freezer bag that the dehydrated food was in too close to the stove as the water is poured into it. Yep, we had a small snafu.

Bag

Fortunately, we had a couple more freezer bags handy so we transferred his chili-mac into a new bag, and boiled a little more water and in half an hour we were diggin’ into a fine evening meal. After supper we spent some time just chillin’ and talkin’…guy talk…and I lit up a pipe just to make sure the skeeters stayed away. We toyed with the idea of building a campfire but neither of us felt like hunting firewood or possibly inviting a hoard of skeeters in for supper.

Pipe

We decided to turn in as the sun set to avoid the onslaught of evening mosquitoes. I didn’t think I would go to sleep that early, especially since it was still hot and uncomfortably humid, but apparently I did since I found out today that Jared had been texting Ashley and telling her that I was asleep and snoring. I’m gonna have to have a long talk with that boy.

We both dozed on and off until about 1:15 when we both found ourselves suddenly wide awake listening to what sounded like hurricane blowing through the trees over our heads. The weather forecast for the weekend and next few days was pretty typical of early summer. Each day was forecast to have about a 30 to 50 percent chance of isolated thunderstorms during the afternoons but nothing significant forecast overnight. Apparently someone didn’t get the memo about the overnight part. Jared checked in with his dad who checked the weather radar online and saw a strong storm that appeared to be heading our way and would likely be on top of us in 15 or 20 minutes. We made a quick decision to break camp quickly and shelter-up in the restroom shed. Needless to say, we didn’t spend too much time trying to neatly pack our gear. The general plan was to stuff it in our packs and sort it out later.

We made it to the restroom shed just as the rain started. A bit about the restroom shed. This isn’t your typical State Park bathhouse with sinks and flush toilets and showers and benches to sit on or put your clothes on. This is a small wood-frame building with a concrete floor and two 8 x 10 rooms with a composting ‘toilet’ in a corner, a toilet paper dispenser on the wall and a LED ceiling light connected to a 15-minute timer. No frills is a pretty good description…and it was home for the rest of the night.

Restroom

Since we were a little low on water we decided to catch some of the rainwater draining off the roof to have a little to hold us over until we could filter some water at our first stream crossing. I could hear Jared rattling around in his room then things got quiet for a little while until I heard him moving about again. He had pulled out his sleeping bag, laid it out on the floor and slept a little bit. Once I found out what he had done I was inspired to try to dig my top quilt and camp pillow out of my pack (no easy task) and do the same. To my surprise I actually managed to sleep for about an hour and a half on a concrete floor. Of course, when I got up I found myself hurting in places that I didn’t know that I had. Guess that’s a small price to pay to make sure I brought Jared home safely to his parents and to his girlfriend.

By daylight we were packed up and ready to walk out. We set a blistering pace through the skeeter infested stretch of woods and were still walking along at a pretty fast clip when we spooked up the first deer of the morning. The doe ran off into the woods and as we approached the spot where she had been standing we noticed something lying at the edge of the trail. It was her baby that looked to be only a day or two old. We stopped long enough to take a picture and wish it well before continuing on our way.

Fawn

At the first stream crossing we pulled out the gravity filter that I made last fall and replenished our water supply then slowed down a little for a fairly uneventful walk back to the truck.

I’ve got to give Jared some credit here. Lesser young men might have started complaining or even gotten a little whiny when things didn’t go quite as planned and some might have even panicked as that storm rolled over our heads but he took it all in stride and didn’t seem to miss a beat. He managed to earn his trail name this weekend. He shall now be known as Tick. Apparently the little buggers like him. By the time we made it back home he’d picked off fourteen and there’s a good chance there were a few more hidden that he hadn’t found yet.

On a side note, a few folks have asked me how I like the Catalyst. Short answer…I love it. It took a little fiddling around with the straps to get it situated but by the end of the weekend it was quite comfortable and neither my shoulders nor my hips seemed to be carrying the majority of the load.  You know it’s there but it rides well enough that you don’t wish that it wasn’t. I like the simplicity of the pack.  The roll top closure and compression straps on the sides allow one to adjust the pack’s capacity for smaller loads.  The mesh front panel allows easy access to smaller items that might be need needed while on the trail like rain gear, a tarp or a pair of camp shoes and is also a good place to put damp items that need to dry.  One small detail I especially like are the pockets on the hip belt – they’re much larger than those found on most other packs and have plenty of room for a camera, cell phone or snack bag.  If there was anything I could change I would add some length to the hip belt straps to allow me to have more strap to tug on to make adjustments. Fortunately I should be able to get that taken care of with a phone call to the folks at ULA.

Posted in Alcohol Stove, Backpack Stove, Backpacking, Camping, Chattahoochee Bend, Chattahoochee Bend State Park, Georgia State Parks, Gravity Filter, Hammock, Hammock Camping, Hiking | Leave a comment

Tunes from the Tombs?

 

TFTTs

What do a day-long music festival and a historic Atlanta cemetery have in common?  Nothing?  Are you sure about that?  Maybe you should check out the Tunes from the Tombs Music Festival at Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery.  Party down with the dead on Saturday June 14,  from  1 pm to 8 pm.  For more information and a chance to win tickets, click the link to 356 Atlanta Family’s giveaway page.

 

 

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