Last October I caught the camping fever. I've always loved camping and the outdoors but haven't been in years. So I decided I was going on a trip.
I searched online for a few days trying to find a good trail I could hike in on and camp. Mind you, I've never hiked a day in my life- always car camped or something of the sort, so I had no clue what I was looking for or doing. lol. I came across Ratcliff Recreation Area and the 4C Hiking Trail in Ratcliff, TX. ( I'm from the Houston area) I decided this was the perfect place!
I planned a 2 day, 1 night trip- Hike in on Saturday, spend the night and hike out Sunday.
So, I bought a $40, 3500 cubic in. pack from the Wal-Mart and started loading that sucker down. I didn't own a tent so I decided I was going to use a hammock. I went to Gander Mountain and bought an, ENO Single Nest Hammock, that came with the tree straps, and got a regular ol' blue tarp from the Wal-Mart. This was my rig.. Hammock and tarp.. That is all..
Keep in mind this was my first ever hiking and hanging trip. I loaded down the pack and weighed it the night before... 42lbs.. Yes, 42LBS. For a over night trip. This was without the water I was going to have to pack in due to the drought here in TX.. Being 24 yrs old and slightly arrogant, I thought, "eh, it'll be alright". lol
I headed out on Saturday morning at 5ish. ( it's about an 2hr drive to Ratcliff from the NE side of Houston, where I'm from.) After stopping to pick up water from the Wal-Mart, I made it to Ratcliff about 730ish. Much to my surprise, Ratcliff Recreation Area was closed due to tornado damage sometime before. I was pretty much completely bummed because this was where trail head was and the park was completely blocked off.
Determined to hike this trail I drove up the road where the trail crossed and park on the side of the road. Hoping my Jeep wouldnt get towed, I left a note stating I was on the trail and dated it.
So, I headed down the trail. About 2 hrs in, I realized my 42lbs pack may have been just a little too heavy. I ended filling up a Water bladder in the pack, ( I think about 1 liter of water) 2 full water bottles and carried a 1 gallon jug in my hand. ( Knowing the creeks would be dried up due to the drought and there not being any drinkable water Without some sort of fandangled fancy filter, I was overly prepared. Lol) I hiked all day thinking the camp would be just around next bend. Exhausted at about 4pm I finally caught a small shelter out of the corner of my eye up on a small hill. It was the Walnut Creek camp site, about the halfway mark on the trail. (I think about 10miles)
I was completely spent, everything hurting, especially my back, from the ridiculous pack. lol. I thoight to myself, what was I thinking?! I felt like a total wimp- Couldn't handle a short 10 mile hike with a janky pack. lol
After I sat a spell snacking on some crackers and beef jerky, I set up camp.. My hammock.. That was about it. I slapped up the tarp, sat back on a log and relaxed.
So, the sun set and it was just splendid. In the woods just chillin in a hammock! What could be better?! Until, it start to get that chill in the air. I didn't think to check the weather before leaving because it was just beautiful during the day. But it was cold! Probably low 40's or colder and I was in a hammock with nothing but two small throw blankets I packed in. Talk about a miserable night! Oh, did I mention the drought and burn ban?? Yeah, no fire to keep warm. I froze!
Long story short, I was awake listening to the screeching owls and coyotes all night, freezing. I packed up and hit the trail out as soon as i caught light of dawn just so I could get warmed up!
It was the most fun I've had outdoors and can't wait to do it again, but I will be prepared this time with a lighter pack and an underquilt!!
Here are a couple pics-