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  1. #1
    Life, there's nothing else quite like it. Gadog430's Avatar
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    Default First Time Hammock Use Trip Report

    Well, I had my first experience with my Hennessey Hammock Friday night of Fourth of July weekend.

    Frank and Paula Looper and I were going out for an overnight on the Bartram Trail in South Carolina. I was ahead of them by a few hours, and I started out about 6:30-7:00. Walked about 2 ½ to 3 miles in, and it started getting dark, and I saw these two perfect trees to hang my hammock from…just down the hill from the trail. It had taken me an extra 30 minutes to walk in because there was this HUG tree across the trail about 2 miles or so in. I could see path through the middle of the trunk section, but had to break off the smaller branches to clear a path to get to the opening.

    Well, I knew how to tie the hammock, but this being my first time using it, it took me a few tries to get it right. Plus, the ropes had to stretch a little. First time, it was off-center. Second time, not tight enough. Mainly my problem was that I wasn’t hanging it high enough for it not to reach the ground, and I wasn’t getting it tight enough. But I trust that is just a learning curve that will correct itself over time and usage. So, I did re-tie it a few times, and finally had it right. I was very tired, and wanted to get on in and read a while and head off to sleep.

    I think it is going to take some practice to get into a sleeping bag without a whole bunch of hassle, I didn’t succeed the first time. And even though it was July, it dipped to probably right around 68 that evening. I had on shorts, which was a mistake since I usually take a pair of leggings to sleep in. I shivered a little but managed to drift off to sleep after reading a while. I really can see that it won’t be a problem to get into a regular sleeping bag…I have a Big Agnes bag so there will be no pad slippage. I think that will be ok.



    I woke up to voices coming down the trail about midnight…Frank is loyal to his Nightwalker trail name. I really heard them coming from a ways away, and I had hung my pack from a tree over the trail thinking they would see it, so I didn’t make any sounds. They got closer and closer. Then their voices passed where I knew I had hung my pack. They hadn't seen it in the dark, and never even saw the hammock, but it was down the hill about five yards…not far. There was a smaller fallen tree across a portion of the trail right past my pack, so I knew they wouldn’t walk past before I could say something. I yelled out to them, "You guys are so noisy, I heard you coming three hollars away."

    Well, I got out of my hammock, and we sat around and talked and ate and played 20Q. Went on to bed around 2:30 p.m. and never moved the rest of the night. Well, after I got my Big Agnes (my nickname for my rear-end) in the hammock. I didn’t realize it, but it was cold, and I found the Big Agnes was sticking out of the hole. I hadn’t closed it properly.

    I was a little cold the rest of the night, and I figured something out for myself. The little fleece bag I took with me is about the same weight and size as my Big Agnes sleeping bag in its stuff sack. I am extremely cold-natured. I am just going to take my Big Agnes unless it is ungodly hot, and I can always use it as a blanket and be warm. I am just cold-natured. And my little ¾ Therma-rest will sit right on top of my pack.

    It was a very nice overnight trip. I scared up a little raccoon on the way in, and he was cute washing his hands in the stream. I didn’t take my big pack, I took my day pack, and I loved every minute of it. It was packed to the gills, but it rode even better than my big pack. And this even though it was stuffed pretty full. I had though I might have gotten to go swimming, it wasn’t warm enough, and I didn’t have enough time. But I had taken along a regular towel for laying on rocks in the Chattooga. It would have worked better if I had gone ahead and taken a Neat Sheet. Warmth and can use to sit on and dry off.

    The Hammock Hanging went well. But, I don’t think I had the ends at equal height. I slept well, but kept ending up at the feet end. I think the head was a little too high.

    Dawg

  2. #2
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    Great that you enjoyed your first night!

    Hang your feet a little higher than your head. Since your center of gravity is in your chest, your chest will slip towards the lowest point in the hammock...which makes your body slide towards the foot end. Hanging the foot end higher will help keep your body centered in the hammock.

    Also make sure the hammock is centered between the trees. If one support rope is shorter than the other, that end will sag less, giving it the effect of being hung higher.

    Jeff

  3. #3
    Registered User FatMan's Avatar
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    Default Takes a little practice

    No doubt that hammocking takes a little practice to make everything work. Soon you will be setting up and packing up in less than 5 minutes. And as mentioned above, hang your feet slightly higher than your head.

    It will take some experimenting to understand temperature management. Hanging in the air is quite a bit different than being grounded. But for me, I have never slept better outdoors than I do in my hammock.

    Mrs. FatMan and I hiked the trail earlier in the same day and your downfall was not there yet. It came down during a storm around 2:30pm. You are lucky you started later. The storm really sucked. We hiked up to the hatchery and back. We did encounter the downfall Sunday on our return. And you are right, no way around. So it was packs off and the FatMan had to do some squeezing to get through.

    See ya on the trail.

  4. #4
    Section Hiker, 1,040 + miles, donating member peter_pan's Avatar
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    Gadog 430,

    Congrats on joining the "Hanging Crowd" .... nice report.... Agree with Jeff on tying the feet end slightly higher....Would also point out that it is very important to center the hammock between the trees...If not centered the rope will stretch at uneven rates due to differing lengths... this will create an unplaned low end, this normally will cause unexpected sliding problems when you thought it was level.....

    I prefer the foot end higher by about 1-2 inches when the trees are about 12-14 apart...I believe the sliding issue has as much to do with body geometry as trunk weight...from the feet to the hips is a long narrow triangle....actually, it is even longer to the point of side elbows or shoulders depending on the position of the arms...The head to the shoulders is a short blunt triangle....These two triangles define the area of surface friction with the hammock...The small elevation of the foot end off sets the friction imbalance and one lays level all night...

    When the trees are farther apart and /or there is a reason to hang the hammock off center ( such as a small bush or a branch at one end that you do not want to damage) hang the end with the most rope/strap higher to off set the stretch....sounds harder than it is....with practice you will quickly master this and get a level hammock everytime.

    Pan
    ounces to grams
    WWW.JACKSRBETTER.COM home of the Nest and No Sniveler underquilts and Bear Mtn Bridge Hammock

  5. #5
    Life, there's nothing else quite like it. Gadog430's Avatar
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    Thanks for the advice. I will give that a try. All advice is appreciated, and I do realize it is a leraning curve that will take care of itself over time.

    FatMan, I drove over to the parking area in that storm you were talking about. It was a tornado, and that blow down must have been a result. There were many blow downs out on Highway 28. The thing that kept the blwo down across and on the trail instead of it falling on down the hill on the lower side of the trail was that the fork of the fallen tree caught on the trunk of a tree right above the trail and held it there. I was initially apprehensive about trying to go through, until I was sure that the fallen tree was in an extremely stable place and wasn't going to slide. But after being sure it was stable, you could see the little passage thru the middle. Pack off, I hacked my way thru the branches, taking them off and throwing them downhill. I have sensitive skin on my palms, so I wear a pair of weight lifting gloves to use with my two poles. So, I had the added advantage of having protection on my hands. So happy for that. Those gloves came in handy breaking off branches.

    After I went through, I took out my journal and wrote a note to Paula and Frank that there was a way through, and I had indeed gone through, so that they wouldn't turn back in the dark. Went back through the tree, put the note on the trail under a rock, hoping they couldn't help but see it. They did see it. And off I went watching the sunset over the mountains.

    Great Day!!!

    Really curious though, how far in is the hatchery?

    Dawg

  6. #6

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    Use a plastic line level attached to the ridgeline to verify how level the hammock is while you are in it. I prefer to set my hammock as level as possible. If you prefer to slightly elevate your feet the line level will give you a true reference. Once you find the most comfortable level, mark a reference point on the line level and you can hit it every time.

  7. #7
    LT '79; AT '73-'14 in sections; Donating Member Kerosene's Avatar
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    Default Plastic Line Leveller

    Here is a link to a cheap ($1.79) line leveller from Ace Hardware that you could attach to your hammock's main line.
    GA←↕→ME: 1973 to 2014

  8. #8

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    One thing that I do for leveling the hammock is to put the strap around the tree in such a way that it is easy to move up and down - basically this means don't put a round turn in the straps around the tree but to just loop the straps - ie the strap crosses the back of the tree only once. Then if I need to adjust the hammock I just grab the strap and move it either up or down the tree - if need be I can use a trekking pole to push the strap up high on one of the trees before doing the final tensioning on the other end of the hammock. In general I don't try to get the hammock super tight cause I know it will stretch some anyways - what I do is to hang the hammock as high as I can and still be able to get into the hammock - by morning it will have sagged some but I will still be off the ground far enough to be able to get out of the hammock easily.

  9. #9
    Peakbagger Extraordinaire The Solemates's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gadog430
    Frank and Paula Looper and I were going out for an overnight on the Bartram Trail in South Carolina. Dawg
    that used to be my backyard. ahh the thoughts of home..
    The only thing better than mountains, is mountains where you haven't been.

    amongnature.blogspot.com

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hog On Ice
    One thing that I do for leveling the hammock is to put the strap around the tree in such a way that it is easy to move up and down - basically this means don't put a round turn in the straps around the tree but to just loop the straps - ie the strap crosses the back of the tree only once.
    I want to second this. This is what I do, and it works very well. Pick a height for the straps that looks okay, try it out, and adjust the height if needed.

    Doug

  11. #11
    Life, there's nothing else quite like it. Gadog430's Avatar
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    How high do you put the straps? I was trying for middle of the upper arm if I was standing with my arms down next to the tree, but that was way too low. Even with getting it off he ground, it was not high enough to step out of in the morning and just be able to put my foot/feet down. I was squatting when I had my feet down. I realize that I had issues with it being the first time, but hoping to improve.

    I had read the Hammock Camping book, and my assumption was that you should be off the ground several feet so that it is down in the morning, and then you just stand up. I was squatting when I put my feet down. Obviously not high enough.

    I guess my three main issues were:
    1. I needed to have a pad with me for under. Not warm enough. but granted, I am cold-natured.
    2. Height not correct.
    3. End to end levelling, not quite there yet.

    Dawg

  12. #12
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    I usually tie the straps at about 5.5 - 6 ft. up the tree (or still higher if the trees are spaced farther apart than ideal).

    Tripp

  13. #13

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    I usually start off at eye level. I'm 5'10", so thats probably around 5 1/2 feet.

  14. #14
    Life, there's nothing else quite like it. Gadog430's Avatar
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    Ok, good to have that comparison. I am 5'4", so even shoulder height wasn't high enough.

    Keep talkin'....I'm learnin...loads. heh
    Dawg

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    Donating Member/AT Class of 2003 - The WET year
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    One thing that made adjusting the height easier on my hammock was to replace the original tree hugger straps with one inch webbing that had a plastic buckle on one end. I'm talking about the type of straps that come with cartop carriers. I put a strap on both ends and tighten it just enough so that it won't slip down the trees. Then I take the ends of the hammock line and tie them off to the metal rings that I have threaded onto the webbing. I snug the lines fairly taut. Then I decide on the correct height, move the straps up/down tighten the webbing as needed using the buckles at both ends. In the morning all I do to take down the hammock is lift the tabs on the buckles and take the straps off the trees.

    It's a pretty slick system that I came up with on my own several years ago. I should add that I don't do cold weather hammocking. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. Not willing to make all the adjustments necessary to be comfortable/warm.

    'Slogger
    AT 2003
    The more I learn ...the more I realize I don't know.

  16. #16
    Registered User Curt's Avatar
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    Default Big Agnes Sleeping bag

    Hi, My trail name is Corsican. I have read that some hammockers are using Big Agnes sleeping bags in their hammocks. Since there are different types of Big Agnes sleeping bags, my question is which one is the best for a hammock?

    Thank you

  17. #17
    Registered User FatMan's Avatar
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    Default Hatchery is 17 miles

    Really curious though, how far in is the hatchery?
    About 17 miles up the Foothills Trail (Foothills Trail joins the Chattooga River Trail at Lick Log Creek Falls, Bartram ends). There are lots of waterfalls along the way. You will also pass thru Burrells Ford Campground with a privy (12 miles in). No fee to stay at the campground so it can be a good overnight spot. In fact, we set up camp and slack packed up and back to the hatchery. Makes for a nice three day 34 mile hike.

  18. #18
    Life, there's nothing else quite like it. Gadog430's Avatar
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    Well, my Big Agnes is a zero degree bag. I bought a 25 degree and when my hiking partner were on the AT in April I was shivering, and I was in a tent that night. I talked with the local outfitter, and he said that several other people had that same complaint about that particular bag. He talked with the rep, and they replaced them for free with the zero degree bag because they were a little light on the down. I am cold-natured, and you can always get cooler by unzipping, hard to get warmer. But, I have only used that bag once since I have had it, and it was in a tent at Trail Daze. So, I am not sure how it will perform over time.

    The thing about the Big Agnes' is that they have no stuffing on the bottom, and you use the pad as the bottom insulation. I have a full size ancient Therma Rest that I use when I go backpacking with the kid. But, I also have a 3/4 that is the kid's that I plan to use in the hammock. When we go out together, we use the tent. Only have one hammock.

    My Big Agnes is a down bag rated for zero. So, will know more about it's performance after the fall and winter and spring. YMMV.

    Dawg

  19. #19
    Life, there's nothing else quite like it. Gadog430's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FatMan
    About 17 miles up the Foothills Trail (Foothills Trail joins the Chattooga River Trail at Lick Log Creek Falls, Bartram ends). There are lots of waterfalls along the way. You will also pass thru Burrells Ford Campground with a privy (12 miles in). No fee to stay at the campground so it can be a good overnight spot. In fact, we set up camp and slack packed up and back to the hatchery. Makes for a nice three day 34 mile hike.
    Thank you for the information. I need to find a book about it/them. It's sort of hard at times to get all the way over to the AT, the Bartram Trail and the Foothills are so much closer, and much more deserted.

    Dawg

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    I hiked the FT in April...it's an awesome trail. Most of the views would be better in winter because of all the trees, but there are so many waterfalls to see along the way. And you'll walk upon a hole in the ground...just a hole...and see an underground stream running at the bottom. Water dripping right out of rocks...good stuff. You'll never have a problem finding a hammocking site, either.

    The guidebook is very useful, but I found a few inaccuracies. The mileage is kinda screwy as it's only listed by sections, so I went through with a pencil and added cumulative mileages.

    If you're interested, my journal is at http://www.geocities.com/jwj32542/FTDay1.html.

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