Hammocking in My Mom’s Backyard

Hey again!

It’s official. I’ve finished my travel nurse contract and moved from Virginia back to my hometown of Tallahassee, FL. I’ll be staying with my parents here until I change my primary residence to the woods of the Appalachian Trail starting in a couple of weeks.

Walking out after my last day working in my ER in Virginia.


This whole time I was telling myself, “Oh yeah, I’ll get to Florida, then I’ll have all of this time on my hands while I’m home to sort through things, finalize details, test my gear and such.” Now I’m here and I’m thinking, “Crap! I’ve got a lot to get done!” but I suppose that’s part of the fun you get to have when you start planning a thru-hike on a whim with less than two months until you start. I make myself laugh just thinking about it.

So What Have I Been Up To?

Although I’ve been hiking and camping plenty of times, the trail will be a wildly new experience for me as I’ve never gone on an overnight backpacking trip. Because of this, my main focus has been testing my gear, seeing what works for me and what doesn’t. Do I need to change out a couple items? Drop some items? Add some? In addition to this I’ve been making sure to break in my shoes.

Hammocking in My Mom’s Backyard

I’m loving my hammock setup and have been fine-tuning all the bells and whistles that go with hammocking. I’m going to look more into door management for my tarp, but other than that I’m pretty happy in that department.

My new cozy, spacious studio apartment.

A couple nights ago it got down to 30 degrees Fahrenheit here. By the way, what the hell! Why are you so cold, Florida? I figured that was as good a night as any to test out my gear. I was able to sleep pretty well despite a few problems that were errors of my own. So I got some pretty good sleep out of that night and definitely learned a couple of things.

Cooking Test Runs

Then I needed to test out my new stove. Can’t be trialing it for the first time on the trail, can I? I brought it out of the box and started to set up in the kitchen with my mom watching on. When I first screwed on the MSR Pocket Rocket 2 to my fuel canister the gas valve was slightly open so it made a mild “shhhhhhhhhhhh” noise. Immediately my mom started panicking as we were still inside the house and she thought it was going to blow. I laughed and turned the knob to the right, turning it off. Dinner went really smooth. Smoother than I was expecting. Maybe I’ve come to expect lots of challenges because of the steep learning curve with hammocking, but dinner was a breeze to make.

Noodles! It’s what’s for dinner.


So here is my current to-do list to complete before the trail:

  • Renew my RN license.
  • Finish writing a letter of intent for a second nurse practitioner school.
  • Cancel my phone service and switch to another (for better service).
  • Make a pot cozy.
  • Trial gear more.
  • Obtain insurance (I’m working on having some sort of health coverage on the trail, which may end up being catastrophic insurance—great name, right?—or travel insurance).

After that, all that’s left is to start hiking.

Ashley H.

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Comments 2

  • Denise Marie Ellison : Mar 7th

    It is getting close to applying for my JMT permit. Fingers crossed that it happens. We have had an unnatural amt of rain in CA. This means many of our weekend hikes have been cancelled since no one wants to hike in the rain. From all my reading it appears that the AT has LOTS of rain. How are your final packing and testing going? d

  • Randy Dube : Mar 8th

    I may be wrong but it looks like you have the BBXLC hammock and HG Cuben Tarp w/ doors. I have the same setup and found a door management setup that works for me. I use a bit of shock cord and mitten hooks that can connect each door to the opposite corner to close the ends or to each other (under the tarp) to have the doors open. It also allows you to connect them to a couple stakes or stick so what have you to make a larger tarp. Shepherds hook stakes work pretty well for that and are pretty lights. I also have a similar stove and made a coozie from some reflectix. Unfortunately, they don’t sell it in small amounts so now I have a ton of extra in the garage. Feel free to shoot me an email if you want more clarification on anything. Enjoy Tally while you can!! Good luck!



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