I'm pleased to report that the 1st Central VA Hang (or CVAhhh!) was a great success! In attendance was Living the Highlife, Dandeman, VisonaryLion & GirlFriday (her unofficial trail name), and Mrmike65. The trip and location had first been suggested by GordonFreeman, who gave us a general idea of the sites, but circumstances caused him to drop out during the planning stages. (Dude, you missed a good one!)
Dandeman and I arrived at the meeting place a couple of hours before the others and took the opportunity to scout out the first night's hang area, where we gathered firewood for the night's activities, then returned to the parking area where VisionaryLion and GirlFriday found us discussing the finer points of his bridge poles. Unfortunately, while waiting for folks to show up, another large group of campers arrived and set off in the direction of the site Dandeman and I had stocked with firewood. True to his word, Living the Highlife arrived at 7:30 and the group commenced hiking in the dark to the first site. Sure enough, we arrived at the site to find the site it filled a cheery fire and the other group. I went over to say "hello" and explained how we had collected the firewood with the intention of camping in the spot, but quickly wished them well and hoped they enjoyed the site. As we stood trying to figure out a new plan, one guy came over and offered the site and fire back to us, saying they would move on to another! Well done, sir, well done!
The festivities commenced with a great setting up of hammocks and tarps, helping Living the Highlife figure out how to suspend his new UQ, and quick looks at setups by headlamps. As we settled down for supper, we had a lone visitor arrived and asked to share the site (or was invited to, not sure which). I don't recall the name, but as it turned out, he too was using a hammock and fit in quite well. That first evening went deep into the night, with talk about gear, spreading the good word about HammockForums, stories from past travels, and ponderings of future plans. A good time indeed.
Morning came quickly with mixed results coming about how people's gear worked against the early morning river temps. Overnight temps settled somewhere between 55-60 degrees with alight wind and appropriate early morning river fog. Breakfast was enjoyed with entertainment provided by GirlFriday attempting to brew coffee. Her inevitable success was met with a short cheer from the peanut gallery.
The group packed up, refilled water containers, said farewell to our visitor, and ventured onto the Appalachian Trail in search of an elusive rocky peak that GordonFreeman had hinted at in his earlier posts. As Living the Highlife and Dandeman were both in great physical condition, and the rest of us not-so-much, those two broke off and (dare I say) sprinted to the top of the 2,400 ft ridge. VisionaryLion, GirlFriday and myself took the scenic hike, pausing frequently to enjoy the woodsy trail.
The sight of the rocky ridge line and the spectacular views it offered was a just reward for overcoming the numerous switchbacks required to reach our destination.
A fire ring was established and, after some discussion about predicted temps and weather, the night's hang site was chosen to provide safety and aptly demonstrate the power of hammocks as it was situated on a 20-30 degree slope. An evening of chat and chow ended early as the predicted cold winds drove people to find extra layers and finally to what was hoped would be warm, cozy hammocks.
It seems everyone was testing something new: I with my modular sock, Living the Highlife with his wife's newly made hammock and a new down underquilt, Dandeman with his bridge hammock setup, and VisionaryLion & GirlFriday being on their first ever hammock camping trip.
Overnight temps dropped down to 45 degrees with a driving wind from the northwest. Fortunately, our site was on the lee side of the ridge and we were protected from the worst of it. Morning call came at a timely 4am with the sounds of Living the Highlife breaking camp. by 5am, we were nearly ready to hit the trail as a cold rain started. Hiking teams were quickly re-formed to the previous day's configuration and the damp retreat to the parking area proceeded with due diligence. I think we all appreciated the fact that the trip down the mountain took half the time as the hike up!
The 1st Annual Central VA Hang was considered a success by all the attendees, each for their own reasons. VisonaryLion and GirlFriday were pleased at the success of their first Hang, the victories over the challenges of the trail, and exploring how to use their new gear. I believe VisonaryLion and Dandeman enjoyed having a hiking partner that could keep up with them, and each seemed pleased with the gear testing they brought with them. As for myself, I would have to say that the pleasure of gently swaying in my hammock and sock was second only to the truly fine camaraderie and conversations that took place on the trail and in camp. Until this trip, all of my hammocking trips have been solitary (which has pleasures of it's own), so this whole "group hang" thing was a pleasant change of pace. Thanks to all for a great trip!
I look forward to the 2nd Annual Central VA Hang - and so should anyone who are close enough to make the trip!
(pictures posted to gallery - search for "1st Annual Central VA Hang"). Some may end up here anyway