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Photo Trip Report: Family Micro Adventure on Cinder Hill

I’ve long been a fan of the S24O trip format; it fits perfectly with my current stage of life: raising a family and lacking time for long-term trips. After an over-programmed summer, I was itching to get out more. I felt inspired by EXPED’s recent “micro adventure,” so with nothing on the calendar until 11 AM on Saturday, I decided to just carpe diem.

My oldest son was immediately on board when I pitched the idea after getting home from work on Friday. We quickly packed so we could get out on the trail before dark. Just before heading out the door, my next oldest son opted in, so we threw another hammock kit together and we were off.

Camping with hammocks has the advantage of easily expanding or contracting shelter options. Instead of trying to find a bigger tent to fit everyone, we just grabbed another hammock. If we really wanted to divvy up the gear, we could have shared a tarp, but in this case, we all carried our own all-in-one kits from Hennessy Hammock.

We didn’t have any specific destination in mind, although as we drove towards the cinder hills not far from our home, we eventually picked a peak. My boys were game for an adventure, and since there were no trails on this cinder hill, we bushwhacked our way to the top, straight up the side of the hill.


The top of the hill featured a smattering of Shaggy Bark Juniper, Pinyon Pine, and Ponderosa. We found a secluded area where we could stealth camp. All three of our hammocks were pitched side-by-side. I was grateful for the long ropes on the Hennessy, which made it easy to reach the webbing strap/anchor points on the trees.



Sunset over the city.

One facet of a micro adventure or S24O is “grab-and-go,” where you work with the limited gear or provisions you happened to take. With my second son joining us last minute, that meant sharing a meal between three. While we ate, we lit a small LNT campfire and spent the evening making memories. We read books before falling asleep to some music.


Perched on top of the hill, we had the first view of the sunrise, which was absolutely glorious. The colors were so vivid and rich, I wish my camera could have captured it better. My sons are fantastic hiking buddies, getting their gear packed and stowed on their own. After a simple breakfast, we were ready to hit the trail before 7 AM.

My son was eager to share the sunrise with me. I’m glad he coaxed me out of bed; it was worth it.



The all-in-one system with Hennessy made it easy to pack-and-go.
The all-in-one system with Hennessy made it easy to pack-and-go.

I know that this trip was a confidence booster for my younger son, and I’m glad we chose to do something easier for him because we are already planning our next micro adventure together.


10 thoughts on “Photo Trip Report: Family Micro Adventure on Cinder Hill”

  1. I think your last sentence is key for us with young kids, “confidence booster”. This type of outing is IMO superb in allowing them to stretch their legs, both figuratively and literally. They, and often we parents as well, learn that they can handle much more than they thought with the safety net of a relatively simple way out IF the stuff hits the fan.

    1. Thanks. I agree–I’ve been amazed at what my kids can do, and at the same time, I’ve had to give up on bigger more demanding treks so I can enjoy the companionship of my kids and build these experiences. My hope is that these micro adventures will build their confidence as well as their love of adventures so we can take on bigger trips in the future.

  2. It is fantastic that you enjoy your sons as you do. Going on expeditions where they pull their weight just ass you do, is great for them – and you. It builds their confidence in themselves and your cocnfidence that you are doing right in their upbringing. You are an ACE, Dad.

  3. Hi Derek! I’ve been reading your posts recently and ordered your book on my Kindle. I love it. I’ve been on the hunt for the right hammock and was wondering if I could get your recommendation?

    I love backpacking, especially in Havasupai. I’m looking for a hammock that is quick to set up and take down, light weight, rain fly and included/removable bug net. As crazy as this sounds, I got caught in a flash flood down there last year in 2013 and needless to say, we had to pack out quick because we had warning of another possible one hitting that night. The only belongings I had that survived were what was attached to the hammock. So I like the idea of having a quick take down and pack up.

    I’ve been trying different suspensions and am trying to limit as much hardware as possible while still being able to quickly adjust the angles on both ends. I have some ENO’s and haven’t been cared for those as much lately. Recently ordered the Hennessy Asym Zip ultralight 1.9oz. I love it except you can’t really sit up in it if you want and using it as a chair on the outside is awkward with the ridgeline. However, the all-in-one is awesome. I’ve been eyeing the Warbonnet Blackbird. Any suggestions?


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