I got stuck with a night shift at work tonight, so no time for an overnight trip, but the weather was just too gorgeous to not get out in the woods today. So I packed up and went out to Colt Creek State Park in Polk County Florida for a day hike. I also set up my hammock and lounged around a bit, mostly to test/ learn about the good and bad of my set up. I thought I would share some highlights with the HF folks, and I will include a few gear lists for all of my fellow gear nerds, gear junkies, and various other stuff-o-philes.

This was one of the first neat things I saw today, within about an hour of starting my hike. This big mamma gator was hanging out in the creek right by the trail. If you look right in front of her nose, you can see the little baby gators that she is looking after. Its not uncommon to see gators in this area, but I have not often seen the little babies like this. pretty cool

I didnt do any cooking during my hike, but I did stop about midway through and brew up a quick cup of coffee.
I used a MSR Pocket Rocket stove to brew up my coffee in a GSI stainless steel nesting cup. The nesting cup is awesome. I like it because it fits right around my nalgene, and is pretty indestructable. I also like the pocket rocket stove. That thing is basically a flamethrower. It will boil water in less than two minutes. I like it, but if you are into ultra-lightweight hiking you will absolutely hate it. Its heavy, and the fuel canisters you use with it are really heavy. If youre an ultralight hiker, just stay away from it. I know ya'll hate stuff like the pocket rocket stove.

Leaving the gator family, I kept walking through the park. The thing I like most about this park in particular is it has an ecosystem called the pine flatwoods, which is an area where big longleaf pine trees grow far apart from eachother, and if the area is really healthy, there will be almost nothing growing as groundcover except grass. A good healthy pine flatwoods looks like this, and is a product of old age, and a healthy forest fire interval. I dont know why, but I have always loved the flatwoods. I think its neat that those big, old pine trees are the only thing growing out there because they were the only ones tough enough to withstand the competition and wildfires. Those are some tough old trees.

I stopped by my friends house (park ranger, lives on the park) and spent some time chatting with him. I also got to chat with his grandfather, who told me a really neat story about hammocks in the Korean war. Im going to put something together about that and post it later. I also set up the hammock in the backyard and lounged around for a while.

]I had an ENO singlenest suspended with the ENO quick straps. i have quickly come to dislike the quick straps, and a replacement system is forthcoming. They do stretch as everyone on the forums has warned me, and theyre just not as adjustable as I'd like. I also had an el cheapo tarp from Wal-mart that was missing a grommet. I cant wait to get a good tarp. Ive been eyeing the big daddy from wildernesslogics. Hopefully I'll be picking one of those up soon. One of the big things I noticed was that i need to attach my hammock suspension to the tree above my tarp ridgeline. The hammock was hanging too low below the edge of the tarp, and Im sure had it been raining I would have been wet, as it has a tendency to rain sideways in Florida. Plus, the bag I had attached to my ridgeline was too far up for me to reach. A good lesson learned, the easy and dry way.

I had to cut the day way shorter than I wanted. It seems like work is always getting inbetween me and the woods. But it was a beautiful day, I got to stretch the legs and hang out in the woods for a while. I also got to play with the hammock and learned a few things, I'll take that over staying home any day. Thanks for reading HF folks, and as always, thanks for all the help and hospitality