Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hammock Ingenuity

Okay, I'll admit it. I have a rather high opinion of my cleverness, it's true. I don't quite live up to the old Scout Camp Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan verse, "Oh we're not a bit stuck up about the clever things we do / Most everybody likes us and you hope you like us too." I apologize to those of you who have to bear through my detailed explanations of intricate details that mean nothing to you *coughKaracough* but smile through it anyways. I've been trying to reign it in...

...but I really think I outdid myself on this one.

Camping with the Cub Scouts two weeks ago, I brought a hammock and planned on sleeping in it overnight. I find it to be much more comfortable to sleep in a hammock than to sleep on the ground, but maybe that's just me. But when when we got to the camp, I found that we were camping in the middle of a field. I don't know about you, but I often find it difficult to keep a hammock suspended when it is attached to nothing but grass. ;)

Luckily, I take the Boy Scout motto to heart: Be Prepared. I brought along several lengths of rope and 6 "Scout Staves," a.k.a. thick broom handles that Scouts can use for lashing practice. With three on each side, I tied each set into a tripod (using a tripod lashing, of course!), then strung over each tripod a rope I had tied an eye splice into. Why an eye splice? Because I had previously hooked climbing carabiners into my hammock ropes so that I didn't have to actually tie a rope into my hammock every time I use it. I just hook the carabiner into the eye splice and then tie spliced rope to an anchor.



Aah, the anchor. I relied on my Pioneering Merit Badge work from eons ago to anchor the hammock in the same manner in which you would anchor a monkey bridge.

You drive a stake and attach the main weight-bearing line to it, then you drive another stake close behind it and attach the top of stake 1 to the bottom of stake 2. This prevents stake 1 from pulling out of the ground due to the tension leveraging it out.


To top things off, I added a tarp suspended from the tripods. This prevented my sleeping bag from getting wet with dew overnight--and a dewy bag is a cold bag. Oh, and I laid my sleeping pad (Thermarest Z-Rest) in my hammock but underneath my sleeping bag. That helped keep my bottom side warm through the night, and also seemed to help make things even more comfortable. The icing on the cake would have been if the earplugs I wore would have muffled the sound of the trains clacking by every half hour, all night long.

My anchors worked all night long, and kept my butt off the ground for the whole night...once I made a slight modification to the staves. See, broom handles are smooth; they're supposed to be smooth. Their smoothness helps your hand to slide up and down the handle while you sweep, and prevents splinters and blisters. Their smoothness also helps ropes to slide down the handle when weight is put on them. I had to get out my hatchet and chop a channel near the top of the staves, and lash inside that channel. Once I did that, the sliding terminated and the sleeping commenced.

I'm planning on hammock camping this weekend with the Boy Scouts, too. We'll see how it goes.

1 comment:

The Whitten Family said...

Brig....Linda Whitten here...I found this on your wife's blog...I found hers on The Cooper's. Her posts are so interesting to read. She is obviously good at a lot more than math...like WRITING! I loved this post of yours. Although I was lost half-way through it, I understood enough to recognize a total engineer (my father is one). They do make the best Boy Scouts (also my father). I can only hope Jett grows up to be something like you. Thanks for being such an awesome example/leader/friend to him.

I would try the dumpling recipe but it would take someone with my skills all day to make them. Are they worth it?