Being a Wild Ranger

Taking a short breaks from game development and programming is quite important, and I find nature to be the best place for a bit of reflection. Recently I took two outdoor newbies into the wild for a bit of an adventure. It was a trip that had been planned for months, and during planning one of these guys was dead set on taking a weapon, like a mace or bat or sword. It was a bit funny at first until I came to believe he legitimately took the adventure like one you would play in a table top role-playing game, like Pathfinder. It took a lot of coaxing and convincing, but no weapons were brought, instead we had trusty hiking poles.

Like the best trips started off with some minor gotchyas. First while going to pick up the first friend, we will name him Alex, I find out the car I planned to bring on a four hour road trip seems to be having some slight issues. Quickly made arrangements to take the other friend, Matt’s, car. Arriving at Matt’s he had no shoes, only crocs. We were to embark on a 1 mile hike into a primitive camping site, shoes highly encouraged but I could not fight the battle and gave in, crocs would have to work- with duct tape?

After a bit more scrambling we get on the road following GPS with an expected arrival time of late afternoon, enough light left to hike in, setup camp and maybe get dinner, perfect. Matt took a wonderful detour and somehow the time of arrival got later and later until we arrived 15 minutes before the rangers would have locked the gates. Signed in and got the parking sorted. The first time these two threw on the backpack and it was turning dark, great times ahead.

About a 30 minute night hike into the site and we find that it was pretty flooded. No bother for me I’m in a hammock. So poking our noses around a bit we found some dry ground and with headlamps setup camp and got a fire started with some surprisingly dry sticks. For best practices, we hung the foodbag, on a branch and turned in for the night, my first outdoors in my Warbonnet Blackbird Hammock.

P1040706P1040726We heard something messing around in the bushes while hanging the food and Matt runs over to grab the hiking pole, I guess trying to get a higher initiative roll, but I suspect the to-hit would critically fail. Our perception failed, and we went on through the night, some more worried than others. The following morning we set out back down the path we hiked in to go grab a canoe for the day. Had a lot of fun, nearly tipped twice. Still astonished that we didn’t actually take a drink.


Saw several birds, many large alligators, some hatchlings, baby gators, and even a stick insect joined us in the canoe for a bit. We landed on side the river banks a few times, and during one Alex failed some acrobatics roll while attempting to avoid the difficult terrain of some muddy slope. He managed to grasp a tree holding on for dear life.
P1040690 P1040692 P1040683Back at camp we got to see an owl swoop in but the photographs don’t really let it shine. After a such a busy day outside we all went to our bags quite early, just a bit beyond dark’thirty, and passed out for the final night. The following morning we packed up camp and packed out some extra trash that some previous campers had the courtesy to leave for us. It was a little adventure and quite fun.


One Night Hammock vs Tent Review

This was the first experience I had in my hammock, which went pretty good. But am I ready to get off the ground? For sleeping comfort, yes. The Blackbird hammock was quite comfortable, and the bug net kept out the blood suckers. I did have one or two bites through the fabric. It sleeps a bit cooler than a tent, which for me in Florida is a great advantage. It is a lighter system than either of my tents and packs into a much smaller space. Setup took a fair bit more time and effort, but that is because I am still a novice at tying knots. Taught myself the bowline, taut knot and truckers hitch a week before the trip. I’m sure setup is the same if not faster than the tent, and could easily be setup completely dry even in complete downpour simply by setting up the tarp first.

However I’m not yet sold on my hammock just yet. It is a nice to have and on future trips I may actually take both tent and hammock, depending on the trip. Repositioning myself in the hammock was a bit challenging, I likely just need to use it more to get use to it. But changing clothes inside a hammock is near impossible. Sitting up, also fairly impossible, it isn’t quite as roomy, but still had plenty of space. Maybe sitting isn’t necessary, since laying is pretty nice. But changing would have to be done in the natures which isn’t bad depending where camp gets setup, an RV park for instance wouldn’t be great. Then again that sucks in a tent too, with all that generator noise.

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