Hi everyone. I wanted to pass along some of my thoughts about our 1st Annual Florida Hammock Hang. To say the least I was blown away! This whole event started back in late September with Flackfizer bringing up an idea of a get together somewhere in the state. Damifino and Islander came up with the idea to check out Ocala National Forest with a backpacking trip. I asked to tag along. One thing led to another and before we knew it, we had a reservation at Buck Lake and put the word out on the Hammock Forum. At that time, we had no idea how overly successful and well attended our little idea would become.

The main thing I noticed throughout the weekend was the comradeship and compatibility with all the hangers. There was no one-upmanship about how many nights per year someone spent on the AT. No boasting to anyone who would listen about their newest and most expensive purchase, save for the “Ring of Stoves” display. Nobody exploited the fact that they had more camping, hiking, or paddling experience than anyone else. Whether you had kids along, dogs along, or flying solo, there was someone to share the weekend with and feel comfortable chatting and sitting around the campfire.

Me personally, I am not really a fan of being in a group setting. I much prefer to be alone with my thoughts and get lost in the adventure of the moment. I was amazed to find how easy going everyone else was about the weekend. There were no schedules or demands to be somewhere at a certain time. If you wanted to get your kayak out for a paddle, it was up to you when and where. Want to hike the Florida Trail? You could head out on your own right from the campground or just ask if anyone else was up for a hike if you wanted company. The Florida Hang offered the best of all worlds. You could be as involved with the weekend as you wanted. No expectations.

One of the highlights had to be the unbelievable display of dutch oven cooking. From the pulled pork that melted in your mouth, to peach cakes and cobblers, breakfast biscuits, Woodsman scrambled eggs, pineapple upside down cake, beef stew, and on and on. The best part was everyone was willing to share their pots and plates with everyone at the campfire. If you did not bring breakfast for yourself, there were no worries that you were going hungry. In kind of a strange twist, here I am trying to cut ounces from my backpack and the one thing I want most from the weekend is a 20 lb dutch oven.

For me, I am very appreciative for having Richtorfla and Terri as sous chefs and to Zukiguy for his turkey fryer for the shrimp boil. I think everyone had a great time peeling shrimp and chowing down on a few potatos, sausage, and corn. Hog roast next time? I’ve got the cooker. I hear gumbo goes great with pork too.

Thanks to SunnyTrike for arranging the wood. Our weekend would not have been the same without the constant campfire. Sorry you had to leave early.

But the Golden Hammock award has to go to Mark, Islander. Without his endless enthusiasm and creativeness our weekend would not have been nearly successful. Plus a lot of people would still be driving up and down SR 19 looking for the turnoff. Great job, Mark.

I am not trying to single individuals out from the camping group. I enjoyed talking with and meeting everyone in the group. My problem is I cannot remember names very well. But I had a great time being with everyone.

The strongest memory of the entire weekend was around the campfire Saturday evening. I was in the dark setting up my hammock for the upcoming 28* night. When I came back to the campfire EVERYONE was circled tight around the fire. The best part was the unshakable feeling of friendship. Questions about who drove the furthest, who is the youngest, most popular hammock, favorite camp stove. The banter was hilarious. You could feel the synergy of the group.

So whether we plan a paddling or hiking trip down the Suwannee, Canaveral National Seashore, or a quickie weekend at Myakka River State Park, I feel like I’ve got some new friends to share the adventure with. I cannot wait.