Hammock Camping

Two weekends ago, I went camping with the Boy Scouts to a local farm in order to work on some of the advancement requirements for the younger Scouts--it's a regularly scheduled, semi-annual campout that we call the "Baden Powell" campout, named after the Father of Scouting.

I knew that there would be a large number of Scouts together--larger than what I normally camp with since there were several L.D.S. Troops meeting together--and I also suspected that they'd be noisy at the time that I wanted to sleep. And stupid me, I forgot to bring earplugs. So noise, added to the fact that it would be a relatively warm night, equalled hammock camping in my mind--hammock camping in trees a few hundred feet away from the bulk of the campers.

Being a farm, there weren't very many trees around, and the trees that were around were either on the (barbed wire) fence line or 30' apart. Neither of those two situations are conducive to hammock camping. Fortunately, I wasn't the only one with the hammock idea.

One of the other Scoutmasters apparently frequents a few Yahoo lists: ultralight backpacking and hammock camping. Interestingly, these two groups are rather complementary since with a hammock and a light tarp or poncho, you can effectively leave your tent at home when camping...if you have something to tie your hammock to. He apparently thought ahead, knowing the tree situation on this farm, and brought galvanized fenceposts.

When he set up his campsite, he drove 8 fenceposts into the ground in a pyramid shape, then had his handful of Scouts and leaders set up their hammocks by tying them to the posts. Each post had at least two hammocks tied to it. I must admit, it seemed rather ingenious...until I was invited to join them for the night.

When I gently rolled into my hammock at around 10:30, I saw that it worked like a dream. When the two leaders from that Troop gently rolled into their hammocks, all three of us were unceremoniously dumped on the ground. The post that we were tied to bent right where it entered the ground. Aww nuts!

Fortunately, one of their leaders had a handful of those mini ratcheting comealongs--those pulleys with webbing that you use to tie down loads. He backed his truck around, looped one hook around his trailer hitch, the other end around the post, and ed it tight. It worked like a charm...for about 30 seconds. A post on the other side started to sag then, too. *sigh*

So we pulled out another comealong and another vehicle and anchored that post too. And while we were at it, we anchored the third post that was holding leaders on it to a trailer.

By then, it was almost 11:30 and we were tired. Fortunately, all the rest of the posts held. Unfortunately, any time someone rolled over, got into a hammock, or left a hammock that night, everyone bounced a bit. And since I'm such a light sleeper, it was a rather sleepless night. Oh, and the fact that we were about 300 yards from a major freeway--remember that forgotten earplugs thing?--didn't help my attempts at sleep either.

But overall, it was a good campout. I think I'm going to try to hammock camp this weekend at my Cub Campout too. With earplugs. Maybe double earplugs.


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