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  1. #1
    Prefers life at 12 MPH. FLRider's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Bike Camping at Ichetucknee Springs

    This Sunday and Monday, I went bike camping up at Ichetucknee Springs, right across from the state park there. It's about forty miles from Gainesville, and was a fairly easy ride. The only problem I had on either run was some idiot deciding to honk his horn for laughs right next to my ear on the way back. Needless to say, I was less than pleased.

    Several folks from work were supposed to meet me for a night of camping (they're all ground dwellers, though) via car. Unfortunately, to a man, they crapped out on me at the last minute--I didn't even find out until I had already reached the campsite.

    As I arrived, it looked like rain, so I threw the tarp up right quick and got everything underneath while I set the hammock up and threw my poncho over my bike. Sure enough, ten minutes later it started raining. The first day rained off and on in spurts until the morning--I got woken up by a particularly fierce downpour at about four AM. Still, with the huge Hennessy hex tarp, my army surplus poncho, and my trusty Guinness cap, everything stayed bone dry (well, except for the hat, but that's why I have it!).

    Monday morning found me hiking the trail at Ichetucknee Springs State Park. It's only about three miles, but with the humidity, it felt a lot longer. I went through a liter and a half of water in about an hour of hiking, and then jumped into the springs to cool off. The rest of the day was spent lounging in the springs, working on some stuff on my netbook back at camp, and cooking lunch and dinner on my new hobo stove.

    A note about the hobo stove: you can use it to cook with wet wood, you just need good firestarter (I use cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly) and tiny twigs to get it going. After that, move up to pencil-thickness twigs and alternate those with tiny twigs in about a 1:4 ratio until your water boils. It takes more work than normal, but it can be done--I made coffee the first morning after a day and night of rain with little trouble.

    Anyway, onto the important part: the pictures! Please excuse the crappy cell phone quality; these were taken with my smartphone.

    My Hennessy Ultralite Explorer Zip with the hex tarp in storm mode:


    My hammock with tarp in porch mode (I used my bike and a sapling for tie-outs, since I don't have trekking poles):



    Another view of porch mode:



    A pair of trail photos. The trail up there is absolutely beautiful:





    There were toadstools all over from last week's rain (yes, it rained pretty much all week). Some of them were amazingly large. My shoe for comparison:



    And, finally, a steamshovel basket that had been left to rot. A tree grew up (or was encouraged to grow; this is right on a state park trail, after all) through the middle of it:



    Despite the weather and the iffy companionship, it was a wonderful weekend. Just what I needed to clear my head before the workweek starts again.

  2. #2
    olddog's Avatar
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    Flrider, was the campsite in the state park? Others have reported that Florida State Parks aren't hammock friendly. Good looking trail with all the rain. Green Swamp down our way is probably under water and it's raining again now.
    Most of us end up poorer here but richer for being here. Olddog, Fulltime hammocker, 365 nights a year.

  3. #3
    Senior Member TFC Rick's Avatar
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    40 miles on a beach cruiser. You sir, are a better man than I.
    Look up before you hook up!!
    Originally Posted by body942
    Me big. Me like hammockgear burrow. Long. Problems no. People good.

  4. #4
    MedicineMan's Avatar
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    Awesome report and memories....did a dive there.
    Please please tell me more details--like where is the trailhead, shuttle? shuttle arrangements? I'd love to do this trail on a bike.

  5. #5
    Prefers life at 12 MPH. FLRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by olddog View Post
    Flrider, was the campsite in the state park? Others have reported that Florida State Parks aren't hammock friendly. Good looking trail with all the rain. Green Swamp down our way is probably under water and it's raining again now.
    Nope, the site is about a half-mile up the road on the other side of Elim Church Road. Florida state parks don't let you hang anything from trees; you can't even bear bag from trees in state parks. The campsite is privately owned, and hammock-friendly (at least, they didn't give me any trouble). It's fairly busy on Friday and Saturday nights during season (Memorial Day to Labor Day), when folks can tube all the way downriver from the springs along the Ichetucknee, but is fairly quiet on other days and during the off-season (when tubing is only allowed at the south end of the park for about half the distance). Here's the campground's website.

    Yeah, the rains have been fairly intense for the last week. Still, the state really needs 'em; the entirety of north FL being on fire over the last few months was not fun.

  6. #6
    Prefers life at 12 MPH. FLRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TFC Rick View Post
    40 miles on a beach cruiser. You sir, are a better man than I.
    Meh, it's not so bad. I've done 87.4 as my current record (out to Palatka and back as a scout report for my St. Augustine trip that's coming up). It's a six-speed, so the hills aren't too bad, and, heck, it's Florida; most of it's flat as a pool table. The bike's comfy as all get-out, too. That seat and those tires make rough pavement a breeze compared to a ten-speed.

    Quote Originally Posted by MedicineMan View Post
    Awesome report and memories....did a dive there.
    Please please tell me more details--like where is the trailhead, shuttle? shuttle arrangements? I'd love to do this trail on a bike.
    Unfortunately, the trail isn't bike-accessable. It's for hikers only. The 40 miles (well, 39 and change) that I did on the bike were mostly on US 441 and US 27, with only a few side streets off of those in Gainesville and Ft. White, respectively.

    The trailhead is just past the canoe/tube launch, past the picnic area at the north entrance. When you enter the parking area, enter the picnic area to the left by the springs. Continue straight on past the canoe launch, and you'll see a sign that has the hiker symbol on it. It's a loop trail, so stay to your right when you come to intersections, and it'll take you from lowland hardwoods up to upland longleaf pine scrub and back. It's about three miles all told, and shouldn't take more than an hour or so. Bring water, especially if you go in the summer; the lowland hardwoods are humid, and the upland longleaf is hot-HOT-HOT!

    As to the shuttle, that's for the tubers. You enter the north end and tell the ranger that you're intending to tube. The driver of the vehicle will get a hand stamp good for taking the shuttle back to the north end. Then drop everyone else off and exit the park to go to the south end. Park your car and find the shuttle by the concession stand (you can't miss it). The shuttle runs either every fifteen minutes or half-hour (I can't remember which), and will take you back to the north end where your friends have--hopefully--gotten the tubes inflated. Then, just get on the river and head downstream! It takes about three to four hours total, and you aren't allowed to bring drinks on-river (I know, I know, but otherwise you'd get drunken idiots like at Ginnie Springs), so make sure you camel up and put on the sunscreen before you go.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Bomber's Avatar
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    You're a tough guy! 40 miles on a beach cruiser! my private parts would be wrecked with a saddle like that But i really like that you just get out there
    Also very clever use of the bike for a tiepoint.
    /Bomber.LTD
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  8. #8
    Prefers life at 12 MPH. FLRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bomber View Post
    You're a tough guy! 40 miles on a beach cruiser! my private parts would be wrecked with a saddle like that But i really like that you just get out there
    Also very clever use of the bike for a tiepoint.
    Thanks! It's a little difficult to work the poncho on the bike with the tarp in porch mode; it doesn't like to lay right. I've got to come up with a better way to rig it...but I suppose that'll have to wait until next weekend.

    As to the saddle, it's just a matter of raising the back end and your handlebars. Lean back, and you're all good; the springs in the back end take all of the shocks, and your, ahem, "man parts" will stay just fine. You can even wear an internal frame pack the way it's meant to be with that setup; it's one of the reasons I chose it. Extra heavy stuff goes in an extra-large Wallyworld dry bag with the clip around the seat post and some mason's line tie-downs to stabilize in on the rack. I'm good for about eighty miles and forty pounds of gear with this set-up, though I don't want to do anything else after a day of that!

  9. #9
    Senior Member Bomber's Avatar
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    I ride with a small backpack(32l) and with a max weight including food etc. around 20 pounds. But i also use a mountainbike with front suspension and a rock hard narrow saddle(been using that ever since i was competitive as a youngster, it works the best for me).

    I still find it amazing that you're able to pull those distances with that gear! Respect!
    /Bomber.LTD
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  10. #10
    mbiraman's Avatar
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    Beautifully clean trail and a nice bike,,,,thanks.
    " The mind creates the abyss, the heart crosses it."

    “The measure of your life will not be in what you accumulate, but in what you give away.” ~Wayne Dyer

    www.birchsidecustomwoodwork.com

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