I started hanging at the old age of 29. I was almost 30 and I felt the age wanting to start creeping in so I decided my life needed a few more Adventures... I made a decision as a man that I was spending to much time inside and needed to get out more and enjoy the many wonders of nature.
Let's take a step back for a moment... I grew up in the construction industry. My granddad owned a sitework construction company here in Alabama and I got sucked into the family business pretty much right after at a very young age. I learned what I could from it but it just wasn't what I had in store for my life. About 3 years ago I made the decision that I was not happy with my job and I was wasting my life by not following my passion. I love business, technology and always welcomed the challenge of computers. Long story short I created a marketing business that focused on building beautiful websites. Business went really well the first year... The second year seemed to be going even better. Money was good but I still had a long ways to go to get where I wanted to be. So it was in my 2nd year that I realized my life over the past 2 years had changed a lot and one big noticable factor was that i had been spending much more time inside.
Moving back forward now... I made a decision that I had a raw need within me to just be outside more. It is very important to listen to what your mind and body need, it is when you ignore these signals that you will start to slowly die inside. I started camping/hiking again solo... I bought a cheaper style hammock (byers eno style hammock) and immediately feel in love! I made the decision then and there that I was not sleeping on the ground while camping ever again if possible. After a few more trips I started to get more serious and that is when I decided to join HammockForums.net. The warmness of the online community was apparent immediately. Everyone was so friendly and nice... It was shortly after I joined which was Friday the 13th of May, 2011 that I decided to build my own hammock and I wanted to model my creation off of what I felt seemed like the best option for me which was the Clark jungle hammock. So later on HF I am having a conversation with a member, "bigbamaguy" (and I only advertise it now because it is public anyway) about my plans and he offers to let me borrow his hammock for measurements! a Clark NX-200! I have never on any forum in my life been instantly trusted by a completely stranger so quickly. (I will revisit this point later) How awesome was this guy to just be like hey man sure take my several hundred dollar hammock! Great guy...
So then moving forward at a rapid pace, right after his offer I received some amazing news that my in-laws were comping me, my wife and our new baby with an all expenses trip to New Zealand! I couldn't believe it. Only catch was we were to leave the next Tuesday! After all the initial excitement wore off I realized that I had plans to borrow this guys hammock.
I wrote bigbamaguy and said, "I know u couldn't ship it that fast but is there anyway I could possibly meet you next Monday? I hate to waste the gas but I would hate it even more to miss out on using such a nice hammock in one of the most beautiful places on earth." To my surprise he replied that he would not only allow me to take his hammock HALF WAY across the world but he would drive part of the way and MEET ME. I WAS SOOOOOO EXCITED!
The trip to New Zealand was better than I ever expected. The country is beautiful and so full of life. I have never seen the shades of Green that you will see there or smelled a place so fresh in my life. Fortunately while I was there I had the opportunity to go on a solo hiking/camping trip. There I was 29 years old, in a country I had dreamed of visiting my entire life planning a solo get back to nature man-rated trip. The trip was the best solo trip of my entire life and the only other trip that beats it was Qamea Island in Fiji with my wife on our Honeymoon just 3 years earlier. I faced some challenges on that trip physically that I was not prepared for and had to use about every bit of my mental power to complete the obstacles at the time but it was a life changing and extremely rewarding experience. Feel free to read more about trip here: http://www.hammockforums.net/forum/s...ad.php?t=34303
After the trip I returned home. I had another weekend hiking trip planned with my brother in law that bigbamaguy allowed me to use the clark once more. We went hiking in the Sipsey Wilderness, NW Alabama. To me the most beautiful place in Alabama which was left unknown by me for far to long. Trip report here: http://www.hammockforums.net/forum/s...ad.php?t=34902
Also around this time I made my first hammock... Nothing as fancy as the Clark just a standard Sil Nilon Hammock. It was awesome and I was surprised just how easy it was to do. Around that time I started to spend much more time outside especially after I built the greatest edition I have ever added to my backyard, "the hammock stand".
Now when I look back I laugh at something that is so simple and easy to make that has become so vital to the way I live my life. You need to understand that I am the type of person that has to be always be doing something. I very rarely take the time to relax... This is NOT intentional... Trust me... there is NOTHING I love more (well almost nothing) then a vacation but sometimes even on vacations I have a hard time just staying still. But it was when I began hanging on a regular basis that I was able to slow down life a little more and finally have some much needed time to Just Think! As a result ideas started to flow again and business started to really pick up. 30mins of thinking in a hammock is better brain power spent than what I probably was used to in 2 months. I arrived to the conclusion that when it comes to the brain as with most things in life... Quality Beats Quantity.
So to summarize... as Awesome as the Hammock itself is with all the different types, styles, addons and variations the benefits have been equally as rewarding as the experience. I have also come to the realization that nearly everyone that I know who has chosen this lifestyle carries many similar traits and they are all great people for it. Whether it is lending a complete stranger your Clark hammock and letting them take it halfway across the world, or paying it forward with a great item as so many people here have done to even just the overall attitude and welcomeness that you receive from fellow hangers, (especially hammockforums.net members) I know now that the mindset of being a hanger is a great mindset to have.
Here is what I have learned... It's hard to have a bad day in a good hammock.
Thanks to all the members of HF that have always been so helpful. All the benefits of the hammock have me so busy with work that I haven't been on in a while but I am going to try to stop in more often.
I hope the next 2 years will be just as awesome as the first!