I finally got out to the Pine Barrens for my first hike after tearing my right MCL and getting a severe bone bruise in my left knee in December. I hiked with Silent Orpheus - hiking with him always makes me feel like I'm in better shape than I actually am. My 21-year-old son came home from college and surprised me by agreeing to come and push the wheelchair - for SilentOrpheus. You've seen those wheelchairs on the beach with the big balloon tires? Thanks to one of them, SilentOrpheus was able to keep up with me the entire way.
We left Atsion a little before six pm and hiked the 5.7 miles to Lower Forge. We got there just before sundown around 7:45 pm. The place was packed with scouts and canoers, so apparently the people using this new reservation system actually do show up when they reserve a site. Our site, site seven, was right next to a couple of 23-year olds, one of whom had a Hennessy Expedition. When he saw we were hammockers, and the trees weren't too great on our site, he said we could use their trees if we wanted - pretty nice.
They had a fire going so we shared it with them and had some healthy chuckles before turning in somewhere around midnight (my phone died so I don't really know). The temps got down to 33 or 31, depending on whose Accurite thermostat you believe, SilentOrpheus' or mine. My son complained that he was cold all night, which I found hard to believe since he was borrowing SilentOrpheus' 0* Phoenix and also had a 20* sleeping bag. He is trying to convince himself that hammock camping sucks. Later, he came clean and admitted he was warm all night, but his face was cold. Big difference!
The young man with the Hennessy slept with only a military wool blanket - apparently he hasn't heard about this insulation thing. I woke up about 5 am and he was warming his butt by the fire. After talking a bit, I went back to bed and slept till 9 am. The scouts and the canoers were gone and the only people left were the two young men and us. We lolligagged making breakfast and packing up, then started hiking out around 11:15 am.
The knees felt great, considering it's the first time I've hiked in six months. Glad to be back out on the trail, and as usual, SilentOrpheus' company was a real pleasure. This was my son's first hike in the Pine Barrens and really, his first hike since he did Philmont back in the Boy Scouts. It was nice to have his company. My son thought we sounded like a couple of real nerds whenever the conversation turned to "hammock talk." He thinks we're a bit obsessed.