This past weekend, 2/4-2/5, I decided to go hammocking solo in the Ocala National Forest. I wanted to hike into an area, spend the night, then hike back out the next day. I decided to try something different for a change. Instead of hiking to Hidden Pond and setting up in its general area, I made the decision to hang just south of Crooked Sapling Pond. Crooked Sapling Pond, is a large pond just south of Hidden Pond and usually is camped along its northern shoreline. What attracted me to this location was the abundance of Hydric Pine Flatwoods, which according to the Saint John's River Watershed Management agency, stretched wide along the southern shore.
On Saturday afternoon, I packed my pack and headed for Pat's Island Trail Head and began my hike to the south. I encountered a few hikers on their way out and made it to hidden pond in 1 hour and 30 minutes. There were a few people already there around Hidden Pond. Some of whom where Rainbow People, and a few hammockers. I found my way along the shore line and finally narrowed the location to hang may hammock.
I have to admit, that finding a place was hard, due to the over abundance of excellent hanging options.
(My photos below where taken the next morning, so the fog has not burned off yet and my lense was dirty. Please forgive the quality.)
[The pine stand, with plenty of locations for a hammock.]
I finally set up my hammock as the sun was setting and opted to use two fallen branches as tarp poles to pitch the tarp in front porch mode. It was outstanding, I have never tried this mode before due to not having any hiking poles.
[My setup for the night]
The temperature was predicted to plunge down to a bone chilling 58 Degrees F. As I slept, my legs began to sweat. I had to strike a balance between insulation and cooling, but I managed. I awoke to the sound of rain drops on my tarp, I thought it was odd since the weather prediction did not state that rain was expected. I quickly determined that it was condensation falling from the trees above. There was enough condensation to form a rain puddle on my tarp, that I had to dump at least three times before the sun got high enough to raise the temperature and burn off the fog. The fog made the whole area look eery, the woods looked and felt like a rain forest and I could not see the pond, it was covered in white. When I fetched some water, that morning, I lost sight of my tarp due to it's thickness.
As I sat in my hammock and as the day warmed up, I was surrounded by woodpeckers and misc song birds darting among the trees. It was nice and peaceful. It made me forget about the world for a little while at least.
After I packed up and started the hike back to my car, I encountered a flock of Florida Scrub Jays. It was an awesome sight to see those birds. I will send you out with the only good photo I could capture of one.
[Florida Scrub Jay]