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  1. #1
    Sweeper's Avatar
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    Cumberland Island January 2011 Hike & Hang

    While many were freezing their tails off at the various Cold Butt hangs, some of us had a different idea about hanging and headed South to Cumberland Island National Seashore off of the coast of GA. My friends and I do this every winter in the Jan-Feb time frame as the bugs generally aren't too bad - they get fierce down there as the temperature warms the rest of the year. This year, with the East Coast getting hammered with cold, wintry weather, we hoped that we would catch a break and get some nice weather. We kind of did, at least for 3 days! We left from St. Mary's, GA at the National Park Service Ferry aboard the Cumberland Lady.



    We were joined this year by my friend David's daughter, Em.



    This was her second hike in her life and first trip to Cumberland. We had a 10 mile walk planned that afternoon right out of the gate! We chose to walk the road from Sea Camp Dock to Brickhill Bluff, on the St. Marys River side of the Island. Along the way, we saw some of the wild horses that populate Cumberland Island, and plenty of Armadillos - no one is exactly sure how they got on the Island, but they are everywhere!



    After about 5 hours of walking, we arrived at Brickhill Bluff to winds coming from the West at about 25-30mph. On the interior of the Island we had 60 degree plus temps with a light breeze - just a few feet from the shore line the story was much different. There was one young man with another group that had an Eno set up right on the shoreline with no UQ - he lasted about 5 minutes before he bailed out. I set about hanging my new Traveler on its maiden voyage. I'm a cold sleeper at times, so I had my 3S Yeti plus my old JRB Nest that's been modified to become somewhat of a funny looking No Sniveler. That with my 3S Mamba kept me toasty, even hot at times, since the temps never got below 40 until right around daybreak.



    And yes, that is Horse poop...I told you they roam the Island freely! I also used my JRB 10 x 11 tarp in "rain" mode, closing the ends off to help block the wind. It was pretty effective. I broke a Dutch Clip that night - my "free fall" was only about 4 inches since I was in cold weather mode. This was one of the older DC's, and I was fine as I brought a back up set. On this trip I went to a combo of the original Traveler straps, Dutch Clips, and Dutch Biners - I have found that the setup time with this combo is literally seconds for me. I think that I am ok with the additional weight of the straps over slings.

    The next day we did some day hiking, and did a 6 or so mile loop up to the remains of Cumberland Wharf, on the northern end of the Island. A colony of workers that lived on Cumberland Island once populated this area. We stopped at the old African Baptist Church, founded in 1893. This is a tiny facility and very primitive. It's most recent claim to fame was that JFK Jr. was married there in 1996.



    We walked back to Brickhill, through an area that had been ravaged by a wildfire caused by lightning the past year. These natural wildfires are an important part of the Island's eco system, but this particular one was managed to clear some swampy area before it got to the massive oak trees that are such a big part of the maritime landscape of Cumberland.



    We then proceeded to walk around 7 more miles via roads and trails South to the Stafford Beach campsite, this time on the ocean side of the Island. I switched up my rig a little, hanging the Nest on the Traveler first, followed by the the Yeti. This was a colder night, and the hang was tricky due to the nature of the trees in the camp site, requiring a horizontal connection to the trees rather than vertical. I fiddled with it a good bit, but eventually got it dialed in.



    Day 3 dawned cloudy and cold, and would remain that way all day. We decided to walk the remaining 3 miles on the beach back to Sea Camp as that was a big attraction for Em.



    As before, we were sheltered by the trees until we reached the beach. We then had 30+ mph winds out of the North and thankfully at our back since we were walking South. It was some seriously cold walking. As we walked, we started noticing small crabs that were dead on the beach.



    There were thousands of them the entire three mile walk. We later heard they might have been spider crabs that succumbed to the cold water temperatures. We reached Sea Camp campground and made camp. We had heard the forecast that heavy rain and storms were on tap for Monday morning, the day of our departure, so we rigged for rain.



    David and Em did a walkabout on the South end of the Island, seeing more wild horses, wild turkey, possums and this one very cold-looking owl that just sat there and looked at them without moving.



    They also walked around Dungeness, the ruins of a mansion owned by the Carnegie family that was burned by poachers many years ago.



    The temperature went up during the night, a clear sign that rain was on the way, so we broke camp early in a light rain and headed to the Sea Camp Dock to await the Cumberland Lady for our ride back to the mainland. While we were waiting, an unusual sight greeted us - a submarine, probably a Los Angeles class, was being escorted to the Kings Bay Submarine base!



    You can see it nestled between two sub tenders if you look closely. The rest of the wait was uneventful, as the Ferry arrived with the long-anticipated storms. We were soaked, even with rain gear. I departed, wet and stinky, for my four hour drive back to Charleston, SC. The rest of the crew headed north to Atlanta, where they were greeted by the monster ice storm that is still gripping the Southeast today.



    All in all it was a great trip, and we have created a new hiking enthusiast in Miss Em! Now all that I have to do is to convert her to a hanger!

    Sweeper
    Hiking & Hanging is therapy, and much cheaper than medication in the long run. Carry on.

    Semper Gumby

  2. #2
    Senior Member thekalimist's Avatar
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    awesome trip report! we're planning a three day out there this feburary and this definitely gave us a better idea of what to expect. thanks!
    ...in it for pics.

  3. #3
    Sweeper's Avatar
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    Thanks! just remember that if you are going to hang, take much longer straps or slings than you normally would - some of those trees in the campgrounds are really large!
    Hiking & Hanging is therapy, and much cheaper than medication in the long run. Carry on.

    Semper Gumby

  4. #4
    New Member nairbboy23's Avatar
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    A group of us backpacked Cumberland Island last November. It was a very interesting trip. There is nothing cooler then seeing wild ponies at sunset on the beach.



    The island also had lots of great places to hang. We had 7 hangers in our group and never ran out of trees to hang from. It is defiantly a great place to hike if you ever get the chance.


  5. #5
    Sweeper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nairbboy23 View Post
    A group of us backpacked Cumberland Island last November. It was a very interesting trip. There is nothing cooler then seeing wild ponies at sunset on the beach.



    The island also had lots of great places to hang. We had 7 hangers in our group and never ran out of trees to hang from. It is defiantly a great place to hike if you ever get the chance.

    Yep, I've been going on and off since the mid-80's, and we have so many photos that it is getting hard to tell year from year. My In-Laws have volunteered on the Island for 3 month stints on two different occasions - the last time they were doing the tours at Plum Orchard and actually living IN Plum Orchard!

    Sweeper
    Hiking & Hanging is therapy, and much cheaper than medication in the long run. Carry on.

    Semper Gumby

  6. #6
    Poppabear's Avatar
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    Great report and pictures.
    Terry

  7. #7
    Senior Member sswens's Avatar
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    Nice report This is one of those have to do on my list!!

  8. #8
    Senior Member zukiguy's Avatar
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    We had a group there back in October. Your trip almost exactly parallels ours. I think I might have hung from the same pair of trees at Brickhill.... One of my crazy buddies hung between a small tree and a head high pine stump. The poor tree was only as big as my thigh and had been cut some time ago. I expected to hear a "pop" then find him laying on the ground but it held through the night.

    Did you see the grass airstrip on the north end of the island? There's a strange "T" shaped hangar on the edge that's about to fall down.

    We got eaten alive by some chiggers on the hike back to the dock. That same crazy friend talked me into buswhacking along some very unused trails along the river side of the island. Both legs below the knee looked like hives by the time we reached Dungeness but it was hundreds of little bites.

    The group camping sites were really nice looking. I'll definitely try and make a return "ground dwelling" trip with the family this spring.

  9. #9
    Senior Member eflat7's Avatar
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    We are heading there in march. Is it ok to pm you with some questions? I have been there before, but we are heading to the backcountry this time. I need to know about water.

  10. #10
    JaxHiker's Avatar
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    When exactly were you there? My friends and I were there the 7th-9th. Two of them stayed at BB on Thur and the rest of us did Fri-Sun starting at Yankee Paradise. I was the only one hanging.



    I really like Cumberland. You definitely want some longer straps. I was fine in the backcountry but we stayed at Sea Camp the last night and I barely got around the monster oak.

    eflat, the only treated water in the backcountry is at Plum Orchard. There is untreated water available at Stafford. I'm not aware of any other water sources. PO is cool since there is now a volunteer living there so you can get a tour any time. I think previously they only did tours on the 2nd and 4th Sunday.

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