A week after the annual Florida Trail Kickoff, it was time to head back to Doe Lake to visit our hammock hanging friends at this year’s 6th Annual Hammock Hanging Convention, now called HangCon. While attending the Central Florida Chapter’s annual New Years Eve campout (and our first anniversary party), Chowder and Timber invited us back to hang with the hangers.
With a magazine article deadline approaching, Sandy suggested I leave her behind and take a boys’ day out. Bob, my oldest scouting friend, who picked up Steve, my oldest cycling friend, on the way to pick up me. I knew that we would have a great time. Bob had joined me last year, but this would be Steve’s introduction to the “everyday above ground is a good day” crowd.
Arriving at Doe Lake, we found the parking lot packed. And when I say ‘parking lot,’ I mean it. Chowder and Timber and the rest of the folks hosting HangCon 2016 had marked spaces to make a grassy lot, which made it possible to park the vehicles of the 300+ attendees of this year’s convention.
With so many hammocks, there were not many trees without a tarp and hammock attached. Many had more than one. Like last year, there were dozens of custom “tree replacement” fixtures and cradles. Even Chowder and Timber’s custom H.U.T trailer had gained a third hammock.
It was fun watching Steve looking at nearly every setup and visiting all the vendors. I’m sure that I looked like that last year at my first hammock hang. And now for 2016, with an additional hundred people attending, what a sight.
It is fun talking to all the people, and comparing their setups. No two are alike. Last year I was amazed at all of the LED lights used next to stakes or just running along the tarps. This year, when I said something about it, I was told, “we didn’t use as many this year.” I guess with so many people in such close proximity it would be a little too bright outside.
Last year it was quite a surprise to run into Grinder, a friend from a bicycle ride over twenty years ago. This year, It was fun re-introducing him to Steve. Steve, Grinder, and I were all on that same bicycle trip in 1994. More than twenty years later, we are all still playing outdoors, doing the things we love.
Communication at the hang is by bullhorn. Announcements follow a siren sound and the amplified voice can be heard by all, even those tucked far off in the wood. A big storm was predicted to hit in the afternoon. So an announcement went over the bullhorn “Bring in your down!”
I have spent much of my life in the camping and outdoors. But this is something I have never heard before. The storm was to hit in a few hours with high winds and heavy rains. Everyone with a down sleeping bag, comforter, underquilt, or pillow was invited to bring it inside the dining hall until the storm had passed.
Avoiding the storm, we left the Hammock Hang before it hit and drove to Old Crow BBQ in Umitila for a late lunch. As we sat down, Richard, the owner, saw me and said “Happy Anniversary!” He and his crew catered our wedding at Doe Lake.
Speaking of weddings, we missed the afternoon wedding of two of the hammock hangers. Maybe we can wish them a Happy Anniversary next year at the 7th annual HammockCon.
It was a great boys’ day out. Thank you Bob and Steve for a great time, and to Sandy for suggesting it.