Thursday, September 22, 2005

Camp Hickory

Although you cannot see the telltale trunk in this silhouette, this is a shagbark hickory tree. Carya ovata

I estimate 400 years old, because these are very slow-growing trees.

This hickory tree is so big around, my buddy and I could not touch hands if we tried to reach our arms around the circumference of the trunk. My friend slept in a hammock lashed between the tree and a nearby fencepost. I slept on the blue tarp in the foreground. This photo was taken at dawn.

Hickory wood at my exclusive campground was abundant, thanks to the tree. However, on one occasion, I had to tie a bowline ("the king of knots"), passed the loop beneath my armpits, then threw the other end of the rope over a low-hanging limb, then had a friend hoist me up to the crotch of this giant tree. From there I was able to liberate a few dead branches using a saw. Hickory wood fires burn extremely hot with very little fuel. Steaks are usually cooked (literally seared) within 4 minutes, using a sharp stick (also obtained from the natural surroundings) to hold the meat very close to the white-hot embers. The meat is cooked and all the juices stay inside.

Candle light is sufficient for a quiet evening of reading and reflection. Also it is sufficient available light for a photograph. This is a self-portrait taken inside a homemade lean-to shelter on a particular night when I camped alone at this fabulous site.

AWESOME tree =) I'm sure it could easily be that old - when I was little in St. Louis we had some old elm trees that had to be cut down. We'd spend hours counting the rings to find out their age...Anyway, it certainly sounds like you & your friend had an amazing time ... really makes me want to go camping too.
Thanks, Peggi.

Yeah, I haven't camped in a while. I'm in the market for a good two-person tent, and I plan to do some Western-style camping soon!
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