Category Archives: hammock

Component hiking-getting used to the backpack

Hiking the Volunteer Trail in Mt. Juliet
Hiking the Volunteer Trail in Mt. Juliet

The spot we chose for this bit of fun practice was Long Hunter State Park. We made our plan, packed the backpack and drove to 2910 Hobson Pike, Hermitage, TN 37076-4027. It is an easy trail that is about 11 miles long if you go all the way to the camp site at 5.5 miles. It runs along the edge of Couchville Lake with the water on your left or generally toward the west.

We use I-40 E and take the Mount Juliet exit (226). Then we head south on Mt Juliet Road (before you turn off of it the name will change to Hobson Pike). Watch on your right for some signs that make the way pretty well and turn left on Bakers Grove. Just about the time you get your truck straightened out you will need to turn left. This will take you about .5 miles to the trail head.

One of my favorite sources for info in our area is Cloud Hiking.  They have an awesome map of this trail and a really detailed section by section description of what to expect. If you are into blazes (I use them religiously) the trail we took was blazed white and the day loop is orange.

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The lake shore is very rocky in places. This made for a great place to eat out lunch.

In the parking lot we pretended that we were going to be gone overnight, went through the check list of activities in our heads and loaded our packs…well I had a large pack and she carrier a little day pack for this practice adventure.  After a bug spray experiment, we hiked the first .5 mile or so to the intersection where the day loop goes left. It circles around counter clock wise for 4 miles back to this intersection. It is only .7 or this day loop, however, to a great picnic spot with a nice view of the lake. You would only have to carry your picnic basket a total of 1.2 miles each way.

Go to the right like we did and it is 5 more miles to the camp site. From the parking lot to the camp site and back is 11 miles. Add a mile of the pavement out and back for a pretty decent practice 1/2 marathon that I used when getting ready for the Music City Marathon. The reasonably level trail makes the practice much more fun for me than the blacktop.

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Some prickly pear beside the trail.

In the camp site at the end of this 5.5 miles I’ve camped with some buddies a couple of times. I loved the abundant dry cedar dead wood. Both times there were plenty of fallen limbs for a decent fire. Nice benches and a fire ring make for some nice amenities in an other wise primitive camp site.

My Honey and I used this trail to do a little component backpacking on this trip. We have a couple of epic trips we want to take but like writing or anything else, you have to start at the beginning and prepare.  My Honey works out this idea in the world of writing at  cowriterpro.com. We needed to work out a lot of kinks in backpacking—one at a time. We have learned that to try too many new things at one time is a disaster.  This day hike was about getting used to a backpack.

Since I had always hiked with the guys and everybody packed to be self sufficient with only the occasional sharing of some kitchen supplies, I was experimenting with just adding her things to a complete pack. My Honey carried a few things in a hydration pack and got used to the idea of and the practice of getting anything else she needed out of the big pack.

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Just a hydration pack today

She was accustomed to carrying a large bag with most day use things handy in that bag no matter what was on her back.  So we practiced by eating a meal and by setting up a hammock camp for a quick nap and then loading it all up again.  It was a good learning experience for both of us and we just had a good time being outside together.

We learned that we both have to carry a real backpack. I can take a larger portion of the weight but she has to have at least a 30 liter pack too. Even if we got a 90 liter pack for me, it might all fit but the weight would be more than I could carry and still have fun…pack mule doesn’t work well as my middle name!

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My Honey soaking up the sun and resting her toes by Couchville Lake

We soaked up a lot of sun and had lunch on the rocky shore of Couchville Lake. We reclined luxuriously together in a hammock under a dense canopy for a little nap. We got some good exercise, practiced a component of backpacking and headed home when it got dark.

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Stopping for the simple details that make it special

Mission accomplished. Next trip-new lesson-repeat. we don’t really care how long it takes to master all the skills and get on with the epic trips as long as we are making progress. We build concept and skill on concept and skill. We are up to a week of camping—hiking combos from base camps and/or two nights in a row of primitive backpacking…and enjoying our progress.

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Pondering your path—what big thing do you want to do? From hike the grand canyon to making an elaborate quilt filled with childhood memories to a long vacation through the castles of Europe…what component could you practice first? How could you make an enjoyable small project be a step toward completing the whole?

As Jesus once said, “Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it?” Then break the plan down in pieces and practice them one at a time.

Why Do I Want My Honey on the Trail With Me?

Today, as I read my Honey’s blog that she posted last night at cowriterpro.com – her business site, I felt inspired to answer this question in the title of today’s blog. Here is what my quotable Queen said in her blog:IMG_2982

“So what can I do, today, to affect the spreading of love with a skill that I love—the skill of writing. I can encourage you to write to those you love. To tell them how important they are to you. To tell them that they are loved. Tell them about the two or three memories that you treasure. Tell them about how they made you laugh. Edit the part out about how they made you cry. Tell them about the good now because tomorrow isn’t promised. And Forgive.”

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Just knowing she’s there

There are many positive things I could say in response to this advice. I will try to only address why having her on the trail with me is so special – choosing to address just this part – because after all, this blog is about Hiking With Your Honey.

She makes the trail real.

I still like to hike with an athletic bent for speed and conditioning but I love hiking with my Honey because she sees every butterfly, snail, flower and water fall.  Now I SEE the real forest and the trees – through her eyes and mine. One day at Henry Horton State Park  I watched with joy as Loral stopped dead in her tracks to watch five butterflies. I laughed as I watched her try to follow them all with her head and eyes. She was the cutest bobble head ever.

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Bobble Head Honey watching butterflies

I love what we talk about

The deep thoughts and the superficial chatter. To hear her laughter and to watch her be silly. One night we hiked back in to the car and drove to near by Pensacola to have a nice meal and she dressed up in the beach bath house because she wanted to feel pretty. After dinner I had a hard time keeping up as she ran along the beach in her bare feet splashing in the surf, laughing, dancing, spinning and giggling at herself for this silly wonderful display.

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So happy spinning in the surf

And then I love her presence

Just being together quietly swinging in a hammock, sitting on a log eating snacks and looking out over a lake, snuggling by a fire. On our second night primitive camping on the beach on Perdido Key I woke up over and over because the moon was so bright. Waking up was magical though because each time I would marvel that she was there with me – sleeping peacefully in the gulf breeze.

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Just a swingin’

Loral Pepoon, I love you! I’m putting it in writing and giving it to you! Three happy thoughts with three special memories. Thanks for the inspiring post:-)

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Could you stop, write down an “I love you” thought, story or tender tribute? Then give it to the object of that affection? Sure you can – give it a try –  It doesn’t have to be eloquent, cute or funny – just be real and make it permanent:-) Who will the loved one be?

Right Idea Wrong Place

Enjoying a happy moment in our new nest
Enjoying a happy moment in our new nest

Falling in love with hammocks—It only took one trip on the Volunteer Trail near Mt Juliet Tennessee with our old hammock to fall in love with swinging between two trees. We enjoyed it so much that it didn’t matter that the hammock was heavy and filled my entire backpack. Relaxing together and staring up into the beautiful canopy of the forest above easily outweighed the difficulties.

Making a good thing better—We get into turning a thing over in our minds until we know how to make it better. We decided we wanted to find a hammock that is super light weight and compact. Then we would finish it off with a large, light weight fully sealed mosquito net that could be used when it’s warm and buggy.

Grand Trunk—I’ve had a Hennessy Jungle Hammock and I really like Eno but what won the day for us was Grand Trunk’s  54” vertical zipper opening in the mosquito net so you can get in standing up in 6’ plus of headroom. It works well with a double hammock and you can store gear in the bathtub style bottom under the hammock. Then you and your girl can swing in comfort in a double hammock and watch the sunset bug free.

Percy Priest Trial Run—I was enthusiastic to find a westward facing spot on the lake shore with trees just the right distance apart. I pushed through lots of under brush and cob webs and found just such a place.  My Honey hiked in behind me and helped me pack down an area of weeds and brush. We experimented with spacing and angles. When it was good enough for a first try we climbed in and zipped up the netting. We were ready to relax, eat a little picnic and watch the sun set.

Unwelcome guests—I was so focused and exhilarated by the fun task that I missed a thing or two. We climbed in our new nest and I watched with disappointment as a tick marched across my Honey’s shorts. In a flurry of activity we collected and killed everything that crawled that wasn’t human.

Ticked off—How did those get in here? I really was “ticked” off! Then It dawned on me what I had done. While stomping through the brush we walked under a grove of cedars and the ticks had hitched a ride by the dozen. We hastily ate our picnic, packed up and worked our way back out to the trail.

An unhappy moment running from the ticks
An unhappy moment running from the ticks

I’d like to check you for ticks—A famous country song that I think is funny came to life and wasn’t as cute as it sounds. We acted like two monkeys picking lice and removed several ticks from each other. I felt sad that she had not had a good time but my Hiker is so resilient.

Making improvements again—We wanted to repeat the first special moment so badly that we made a plan. Pick an open area that was naturally bare or prepared for camping. Stay away from low hanging cedars. Get in the hammock bug free to start with. She is helping me think because she is drawn to the beauty and the romance. She knows that it takes effort to make a special memory. Finding a perfect hammock place is like cooking a special meal. Plenty of thought and preparation to make it perfect.

Pondering Your Path—have you had an outdoor perfect idea go down with a flop? What can you do ahead of time to be better prepared? Could you scout it out ahead of time? Go set up and tear down to make sure ever thing works right? It might me a lot of work but how much is it worth to get to treat your Honey to an amazing romantic experience?