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‘Till Next Time…Remember “There Ain’t No Better Camping Then New Jersey Camping!”
Here ya go:
Holidays are a time to take the family camping
Jerry Hill Outdoors
We’re smack in the middle of a passel campfire weather. If for no other reason than to stave off flying (and biting) bugs, enjoy campfires 12 months out of the year.
Maybe our prehistorical roots have something to do with the fact cold-weather campfires mean more to the average outdoorsman compared to those when sundown is accompanied by sub-tropical mug.
For many years, the Hill family had access to a piece of Fisheating Creek real estate known as Cobb Hammock. When my sons were still in school, they would accompany me to that Glades County locale each year for an extended day-after Christmas through New Year’s hunting and camping experience.
They grew up and tended to only come down for the holiday weekend. I still pitched a tent, made camp and probed about the swamps and live oak hammocks alone for days on end.
My only company came to be the nightly campfire. When you are alone, and both winter chill and the darkness of the swamp creep over at dusk, a fire becomes the focal point for the hours between last light and bedroll time.
Most mornings, I would roll the blankets back a couple hours before sunlight and be on stand an hour before dawn. Sometime, before mid-day, I would wander back into camp and eventually get around creating an oak limb and palm frond tepee which would be the foundation for the coming evening’s campfire.
Since there would be no one else within miles, I tended to hunt close to camp as the sun swung deep in the west. At dark, I’d make my way back to the tent and vehicle. Invariably, the first order of business would be to strike a kitchen match or two to the base of that pyramid and watch as the fodder flickered to a tiny blaze. Minutes later, the shadows would have been pushed back, and if the backside needed toasting the warmth was radiating out of the accumulated limbs and fronds.
An interesting facet to these nightly fires was, at mid-day, while I was scrounging the nearby thickets for the necessary fuel, I would decide – was the night’s fire going to be an 8 p.m. one, or would I opt for a bit of extended nightlife and pile enough wood on to last until 8:30 or maybe even a quarter to nine.
When a simple repast had been prepared and enjoyed, I’d pull a folding chair or ice chest up near the fire and meld down with the glowing coals and wisps of smoke and sparks climbing into the night swamp air.
Eventually, the fire would be on it’s last throes, and I’d rake it atop of itself and retreat to the tent for the night.
A funny thing about sleeping in a tent at night at Fisheating Creek. I’ve enjoyed such nights in practically every month of the year. At midnight in July, you’ll need a couple blankets atop to keep the chill off. And when frost is forming in the open glades and palmetto patches on a December night, a couple blankets will also suffice.
Great memories to you!
Jerry Hill, outdoors writer, can be reached at 745-7013 or jhill@HeraldToday.com.