Hammock Camping in Northern Michigan (Sept. 2016)

When my employer notified me earlier in the year that I would need to be in northern Michigan for 4 days at the end of September for some classes, I did two things. First, I giggled like a school girl since upper Michigan in the fall is my favorite place on earth. Second, I texted Squirrelbait (Aaron) and Turkey (Ed)…friends of mine from hammockforums.com…to see if they were up for a 3 day backpacking trip/hang. ┬áPlans were made and we decided to backpack the Jordan River Pathway just outside of Gaylord, Michigan where Ed and Aaron live. Close for them and it was on my way home from the work trip, so that worked perfectly.
Original plans were for Aaron and I to meet up on Friday as we both had that day off completely, and get a campsite at the Pinney Bridge Campground. Ed would head out first thing Saturday morning. We would then shuttle vehicles and hike our way back to the campground on the Jordan River Pathway, some of which is part of the North Country Trail. Well, as luck would have it, plans went awry.

I ended up picking up Aaron at his house Friday morning and he said his bad knee was bothering him, so he would shuttle us where we needed to go but he wasn’t going to be able to hike. Bummer, but I was glad he was at least going to be sharing camp with us. The fact that he brought a big zip loc bag full of the sweetest cherry tomatoes I’ve ever had didn’t hurt my feelings either. We drove out to the parking area and hiked the short hike in to the campground, crossing the beautiful Jordan River on our way in. Preparing for this trip and being a rookie, I was very particular about getting my pack weight down. I managed to get it down to just over 25 pounds, including 3 days worth of food and 64 ounces of water. Joke was on me when Aaron carried in his pack and a small cooler full of brats & a 6 pack of beer. Man am I sure glad he did though! Brats over the campfire that night were way better than the dehydrated stuff I had planned on eating for dinner. We enjoyed a campfire and were in the hammocks for the night fairly early. Like I said, I’m a rookie and this was my first overnight in the hammock outdoors. My set up was an ENO Doublenest, Kelty Noah 12 tarp, an Arrowhead Equipment Jarbridge under quilt and a 30 degree sleeping bag. I got cold during the night, but that was because I underestimated the temps and had slept in shorts and a t-shirt. Meanwhile Aaron was snoring and toasty warm in his Warbonnet Blackbird XLC and down under/top quilts. I fell asleep to the sounds of multiple owls in the woods and woke up to the sound of geese flying off the river. Can’t beat that!

Aaron and I slept in later than I expected, having both slept about 10 hours. It’s amazes me how well I sleep in a hammock, even the ENO. I have to admit to having some calf ridge pressure every night, but otherwise the ENO did okay even though I’m 5′ 11″ and 257lbs. However, I’ll be shopping for a new hammock very soon.

Saturday morning, Aaron and I had breakfast and coffee (I’m so glad Aaron brought extra cream and sugar), and kept an eye open for Ed. Turns out Ed got tied up at home and didn’t make it out to camp until about 1pm. By the time he set up his hammock and settled into camp, we had decided to change plans and just make the weekend a relaxing in camp hang. I was having a great time, needed a relaxing weekend and was learning a lot from these guys so I was more than happy with the decision. Top that off with Ed cooking venison steaks over the campfire in a cast iron skillet (yes, he packed in a cast iron skillet), and yeah I was a happy camper for sure.

The rest of Saturday was spent just talking, relaxing in the hammocks, eating like kings (turkey, gravy and Stove Top dressing for dinner) and my learning a ton of stuff from the guys. That night I woke up a few times, but I had dressed warmer for bed and was toasty. One time I woke up, a couple of deer were snorting at the campsite next to ours. I listened for quite some time as the whitetails expressed their displeasure. I drifted off to sleep for a bit, then woke up to the sounds of owls again. Suddenly, I heard wings beating and an owl landed directly above Aaron’s hammock in the pitch black darkness. The owl began calling to others and I smiled at what a wonderful sound. Eventually the owl moved along and I fell back asleep.

Sunday morning came early and right after breakfast the three of us began packing up camp. The guys had stuff to do at home and I needed to make the almost 6 hour drive back home to Indiana. We hiked out to the vehicles, said our goodbyes and were on our way.

Instead of individually posting my pictures from the trip, I made a short video/slideshow. Only thing I wish I had gotten pics of were Ed’s hammock set up. I somehow forgot to do that. Maybe it was my sheer jealousy over his new (to him) cuben fiber tarp. Lol!

I can’t thank Ed and Aaron enough for their patience with this rookie and teaching me so much in such a short time, not to mention their sharing deer steaks, brats, cold beers, cream & sugar, etc with me. I’m already looking forward to another adventure fellas!



Jameson Olson is..and he says it's in this order...a Christian, husband, father and outdoorsman. As well as being one of Trailing Hook Journal's co-founders, Jameson is also a member of the Jackson Kayak Regional Fishing Team, Bending Branches Regional Ambassador Team, YakAngler Regional Pro Staff, Orion Coolers Pro Staff, Wildcat Creek Outfitters Fishing Team and a co-founder/board member of the Indiana Kayak Anglers.

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