Hiking among the oaks with a Warbonnet
I spent 3 and a half days in Henry Coe State Park. This is a low elevation park, but it's got quite a lot going for it especially in early spring. We had perfect weather - the few clouds disappeared by the end of the first day so was all sunshine and clear moonlit skies. On the first night we camped on a ridge. I got to do a one tree hang on a HUGE oak tree.
We were a meetup group, which essentially means you hike with people who you just met. One of my three companions for this trip was a college student who asked that her pics not be posted online, so you won't get to see her using my Hennessy any old way she wanted to. At one point she hung the ends close together and sat in it like a swing. The hammock doesn't appear to be damaged....
On the second night, the wind was feeee-rocious. I didn't put the tarp up on the ridge because things were so calm and peaceful; when we camped near a pond the second night, those calm breezes turned into gusts of wind that seemed to be headed for Oz. I put up the Cathedral tarp (Preacha's Wife special) and hunkered down under it with my stove.
That distance shot also shows (in the top of the branches to the left) a hiking companion's tent, a one person REI model. By comparison I look like I'm using a six person tent. The corner tarp tie outs were staked down to the ground, the middle two on each side were guyed out further to provide room. The (less than prepared) hiking companion who borrowed my HH also borrowed the handful of mason line I had for using the grip clips to hang her food.
Here's the wackiness that was the third night's hang:
This was the one spot I felt I could hang and still be part of the group I was (nominally) leading. China Hole is a narrow canyon with steep hillsides, where two creeks meet and there's precious little space for tents. I would have gone uphill if not for the feeling that we were being watched; three women in the wilderness and one bear spray between them, I didn't feel right going in search of better trees. We had frost on everything in the morning but it wasn't a hard freeze, as the water wasn't frozen in either of my bladders. My straps are soaking in Tecnu as the large tree is covered with poison oak. Trekking poles make great hanging aids as I was able to get the strap around the tree with it without much hands on contact.
This was the first hang I got close to being uncomfortable in the Blackbird. I had to choose between a decent hanging angle and not scraping the foot end of quilt or hammock on the dead oak branch on the ground. (This was a seriously large branch - the oak trees in this park are like grandaddy trees.) Ultimately I put my fleece down my back to offset the chilly spot on my back rather than play with the straps in the freezing cold.
I would not have been able to replicate this hang in my HH, so I gave the one really good spot nearer the water to the young lady using the HH.
This is a really great place to bring beginner backpackers. I say this because a lot of the trip was spent hiking along ridge tops and the cell phone reception was great, plus they have this zone system so they know where you are each night, plus if you do not get back to drive off in your car they WILL come looking for you, which is easy to do as many of the trails are actually dirt roads. The map is a great resource with water sources marked clearly in blue. Within a certain radius of headquarters you camp where designated and they only allow groups of eight in any zone, so it's not particularly crowded.
A ranger stopped in his truck as we were hiking to the ridge top one evening and offered us water - I'm sure he was flipping out that two women more than 14 miles out from the entrance were walking with no gear whatsoever in the evening. We were camped at the bottom of the hill. While we were camped in China Hole, a rescue helicopter with a litter across the skids went north, then half an hour later went south again. Couldn't see anyone in the litter. But obviously they are more than prepared to be out the door and looking.
We didn't see the wild pigs that were obviously plentiful, from the ripped up meadows we walked through. We did see lots and lots of huge wild turkeys, lots of butterflies, and tons of wildflowers, bugs, and small creatures like cottontail rabbits, salamanders, frogs, and coots. It was the perfect time to go, as soon all that lovely green grass will dry up and turn to stickers to jam up in your socks and the temps will rise to 100F or more - but right now the creek crossings were easy, the views from ridge tops were constantly awesome, and the overall feel was tranquility with occasional interruptions by groups of college kids tromping around with their huge packs. Happily, they marched right on by and left us slowpokes to hunt good pictures with our cameras.
Some other pics: