A group of college buddies and I headed up to Oconee State Park in SC for the weekend. They brought one ginormous tent to sleep 5 in while I brought my trusty WBBB and some new HG quilts to try out. We chose the state park because we had some camping newbies who weren't ready to be away from a bathroom; however, we did convince them to join us at one of the hike-in sites that at least afforded some privacy and a semblance of backpacking. It had rained all day Friday, but the clouds parted around 7pm and we had blue skies the rest of the weekend. We arrived after the front desk had already closed, so we decided to pick a spot and pay for it in the morning. I packed in several loads of firewood from my truck, and we sat around the fire swapping all sorts of tails until it was time to turn in. Single malts and smores were enjoyed by all! Car camping does allow some additional luxuries.

I had just bought 3 new HG quilts: a 40* Phoenix, 40* Burrow, and 20* Incubator. All three were made from M90 from thru-hiker. The quilts looked amazing, and all the craftsmanship was top of the line. I wanted to test their temp ratings in a setting where I could bail if needed. Friday night, I opted to use the two 40* quilts with my Thermarest sit pad under my feet. This was my first experience with the new UQ suspension system, and I LOVED it! Before, I had to use DIY TTs to try to pull my UQ into an assym position, and I constantly had to get up in the night to make adjustments. Once I got the new quilt "dialed in," I was out for the rest of the night. The low was 43 and I slept comfortably, although I could tell that I was getting close to the lower end on temp. I'd say, the 40* rating was dead on.

Saturday, the front desk informed us that we had set up in a reserved spot, so we had to pack everything up and then shift down a few sites. No one had showed up to claim the "reserved" site though, so this was more than a bit annoying. After moving camp, we made a day hike on the CRT south from Russell Bridge down past the Holden Homestead ruins. We spent quite a while in the Long Bottom floodplain enjoying the easy hike and beautiful scenery. I tried out a new REI Flash 18 daypack. At 11 oz, it was more than adequate for holding my hydration bladder, water filter, lunch, and snacks.

As the sun was setting, a group of backpackers set up in the site we had moved from, but I was convinced they weren't the ones who reserved it because of how late they arrived. One of them came over to introduce herself. They were starting a thru-hike of the Foothills Trail the next day, and she asked if I knew were the trailhead was. I told them that it was almost two miles away down a mostly paved road. She asked if I could give them a ride in the morning to the trailhead so they wouldn't have to do the road walk, and I agreed. That night, it was predicted to be colder, so I swapped out my 40* Phoenix for the 20* Incubator. Once again, I had to get the fit right, but it was still far easier than the TTs. I woke up freezing cold around 1am only to realize that the Incubator had slid off my left shoulder and was barely even touching underneath. I re-adjusted the suspension and had no problems the rest of the night. The low was 37*, and I was slightly chilly on top (40* burrow), but not enough that I didn't sleep well. I was very happy with the performance of my new quilts!

After the backpackers packed up in the morning, they came over to inspect my hammock set up. They were all tenters, but several of them were very interested in the hammock. As I drove them to the FHT trailhead that morning, I discovered that they were indeed the group who had reserved our spot the previous day. I was helping the ones who had forced us to move! Oh well. I've been on the recipient end of some "trail magic" in the past several times, so it felt good to be on the donor end.