Thursday, 13 October 2005


It was wet last night, not good wet but bad wet. Good wet, I just decided, is when the water comes at you from one direction and can thus be avoided. Rain is the perfect example of this, it tends to come from either above or, if it’s windy, from the side. Avoiding good wet is quite easy, it’s simply a matter of tying the poncho between me and the direction the wet is coming from. Bad wet is everywhere, mist is another name for it last night everything was soaking, by the time I had got a short distance into the woods my clothes were wet and there was no naturally dry area, the ground everywhere was wet. It was a simple decision to sleep in the hammock rather than on the ground. Putting the thing up was less simple, and keeping it from falling on the ground as I adjusted and readjusted all four ropes that had to be tied was a mission in itself, but I really did not want to get the hammock wet if it could be avoided.

A little known fact about Aristotle is that he was the proud owner of a Hammock. Sir Isaac Newton got hit on the head by an apple and deduced a force he called “Gravity” exits, as I have set out bellow “Gravity” does not exist, the Earth sucks. We can’t blame Sir Isaac for this, he’d just had a nasty knock to the head, bless. Aristotle on the other hand was far more fortunate, he was lying in a hammock he had just put up, eating a Gyros Pita and drinking Ouzo when the thing collapsed on him! Lying on the floor covered in Ouzo and hammock (the Gyros survived intact) he quickly assessed the situation and said "For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them." So it is, the only way to learn the ways of this disceptively complicated device is by trial and error.

Last night I was lying on the wet floor covered in hammock my quotation was less illuminating but certainly more colourful, I believe donkeys were involved. The hammock comes complete with a cunning device to stop the main rope of the hammock from cutting into the bark of any trees that the Hammock is supported by. The device looks just like a length of seat belt and it works fine if the trunk of the tree is exactly the right girth, if it less than the right girth it succeeds in doing it’s job of protecting the bark of the tree but is less good at holding the hammock up, it is very good at sliding down to the bottom of the tree trunk. I ended up tying the rope directly to the tree, in the morning I could find no damage to the bark of the tree, maybe some trees are more sensitive that others – beech trees seem to cope just fine.

Trying to get comfortable in the hammock is a struggle, especially when you have just put it back up again with one end higher than the other and are too lazy to do anything more than lie in a tangled heap down at the bottom end. It is still possible to get comfortable the big problem is trying to get fully into the sleeping bag without it twisting around you like ivy and ending up with the hood pulling up over your face. Trying to get into a sleeping bag in a hammock is about as annoying as trying to get your socks off using only your feet, it’s possible but the fact that it is possible does little more than increase the frustration at not being able to do it. Trying to take your socks off using only your feet in a sleeping bag that you have just managed to get comfortable in and are thus wary of sitting up to take your socks off in case you can’t get comfortable again was a highly amusing game that I played last night. This morning I could only find one of them.

The tarpaulin that I had put up over the hammock last night was dappled with fallen leaves this morning and even more trees are showing tints of yellows.


bushled said...

The knots I use most when setting up my hammock are a bowline and tautline hitch. (Some recommend the falconer's or evenk knots instead of the bowline).

As for the straps, if the tree is a small one, just wrap the straps round another turn or two?!!

Have you thought about investing in a decent tarp for when camping on the ground?

Hugh Sawyer said...

The tree in question was just a little bit small, no chance of going around twice. Going to practice knots with some para cord - thanks for the links. I'm sure everyone in the office thinks that I'm odd anyway so there is nothing to loose.

I am using an army poncho for when sleeping on the ground and that does the trick just fine. I'm thinking of getting a heavy duty bivi bag as well, as comfortable as the Hammock has the potential to be I do like sleeping on the ground more.

lardbloke said...

If the tree is too small, then thread one of the tree hugger loops through the other loop and pull tight to the tree.
Then just use one loop to tie the hammock to.
I use the Italian hitch for tying knots by employing karrabiners attached to either tree hugger loop. Simple, easy to tie, achieves the required tension and can be easily released.

As for bivvi bags, just get an ex-army issue one from an army store or off ebay.

fa11en ange1 said...

Great blog. I wish I could live in the woods too, but I don't think the wife would approve!!!

So how was Bruce when you checked in on him then?

Also you may want to avoid sleeping under Beech trees as they have a nasty habit of dropping limbs. I don't imagine that a large branch landing on your head would be the ideal wake up call!!!

Hugh Sawyer said...

Bruce is looking good, bit overy perky for half past six in the morning if you ask me but then he is only young.

Beech trees shed branches ay? You know I was thinking that all those branches about the place would make good firewood; it never occured to me that they fell off the trees. I should be OK as the place I usualy stay is in the branches of a fallen tree.

Hugh Sawyer said...

Lardbloke -

put one end of the tree hugger through the other! Pure genius.

bushled said...

Threading one end of the tree hugger though the other can be fiddly. It would be easier in the dark to put a simple wire-gate krab through one end loop of the tree hugger, wrap it around the tree, then clip the body of the other end into the krab. Super quick to put up and take down. Actually the krab cuts down on a lot of niggles, like the treehugger loops cinching tight onto a knot etc.