Thursday, 24 February 2011

Swinging from the trees!

Myself and Shuzz have been wondering about hammock camping for a while now, it seems to be a popular option for folks who paddle and most people I've spoken too who've slept in hammocks say they're loathed to go back to ground dwelling unless they have to (i.e. no trees to sling a hammock from).
Last week we took the plunge and got ourselves hammocked up! We were both eager to try out the new toys at the weekend but Shuzz couldn't manage Friday night and I wanted to get out for two nights for maximum wilderness chill time!
Sean was up for Friday night though so I set off with him with a plan to meet up with Shuzz for Saturday night (Sean was only doing Friday).
I ended up with a mega-loaded boat as Sean doesn't have many small dry bags yet to pack in his pokey little yak so we piled his massive 100 litre dry bag on my boat along with all my junk!
My boat felt sluggish loaded up so much and Sean soon left me behind! Just wait til I get my sailing rig, no one'll be able to stay with me then!!!!
After a short but enjoyable paddle we arrived at our campsite.
We soon had things set up, it's easier in daylight now the days are getting a bit  longer.
It took a while to work out the skills of hammock rigging, it should be really quick next time now that I know what I'm doing.
Once we both had our accommodation sorted we went for a walk and scavenged some firewood.
Sean had a play about in the bay in my canoe, making a valiant effort at mastering the j-stroke.

I had a play about too.  

Once it went dark we started the fire and prepared our dinner. We decided to cook as much as possible on the fire box. I've taken to doing this more often recently, it saves gas and you can keep warm at the same time as cooking (plus it's fun!)
Sean was hoping to have a wallaby sighting and just before dusk one showed up to drink out of the loch, Sean dashed off to try to get a pic but startled the beastie who bounced off into the undergrowth. I threw some food out as we were cooking, confident that the wallabies would be back. Pretty soon Russell and Sandy showed up and started eating the food I'd scattered. 
Russell seemed to particularly enjoy the stump of the red pepper which he ate like an apple. 

We stayed up chatting and feeding the wallabies for a while then went to bed fairly early as we needed to make an early start the next morning to get Sean home in time. I jumped in my hammock not sure what to expect, it felt weird at first but very comfy and I soon got over the initial feeling of claustrophobia and worries that it'd collapse or I'd fall out! I slept well although I woke up a lot due to the unfamiliar sensation of being in a hammock. My alarm went off at 7:30am so I got up bleary eyed. The deal was I'd cook breakfast while Sean packed up his kit and got ready to leave. We should have had plenty of time but it was 10:15am by the time we got back to the cars so it was a rushed loading of Sean's boat onto the roof and a hasty goodbye. I was all alone for the paddle back to camp, it felt like easy going with an empty canoe. I had the rest of the morning to myself for a wander about the island to see if  I could spot the white Fallow Deer buck who frequents the area. I had no luck finding him so I chilled out in camp and re-rigged my hammock and tarp to incorporate some improvements I'd learned from the experience of the night before.
In the afternoon I paddled back to the put in again to pick Chris (Shuzz) up as Jenny was dropping him off there. We powered back in no time and Chris had fun and games setting his tarp and hammock up for the first time. It was funny watching the doubt on his face when he put his weight on the hammock for the first time (all your instincts tell you that it's going to collapse under you!)

A family of swans joined us for a while during the afternoon too. We wondered if it was the same family who'd visited us on a previous trip. They certainly weren't shy and an adult swan waddling right up to you is a little intimidating. They weren't aggressive though, probably just looking for some food to scrounge. 
After dinner Russell showed up again. This time he decided to clean up our leftover beef olives bourgignon from the pan!

 He washed that down with some flapjack which seemed to be a real hit! Chris tried to feed him by hand but even though he'd come close enough to touch, he wouldn't actually eat from a hand.
Chris had brought some Macallan with him so we sat about drinking that and feeding the fire until quite late while Russell dozed on the beach nearby.  Eventually we went to bed and this time I slept like a log not wakening until nearly 1030am the next morning. Due to the late start, breakfast became lunch and we had a leisurely pack up (with everything dry for a change) before paddling a very heavily laden canoe back. 

 I can't see me ground camping if there's the option to hammock in the future, it's just so much more comfortable. Chris and I both have underblanket projects in the pipeline to enhance the experience even further. I can't wait for the next chance to do some swinging (from the trees)!

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