View Full Version : One more way to meet Murdre Moste Fowle in the woods--well almost!

12-10-2007, 00:38
My first night a Fontana Dam, I arrived late and slung my hammock between a nice, solid-looking telephone pole and a tree. Well, the tree was solid, but the pole was eaten up with dry-rot. As soon as I climbed in, the pole broke and attacked me. Barely in time, I rolled under the concrete picnic table just a little, and the pole came crashing down. It did serious damage to my hammock and my tarp, bruised my back and coccyx and ribs, and put me in a near-catatonic state for about 2 days.

When I got disentangled, I went to see the pole. It had totally rotted on the inside of the base, likely from bug damage. It was at the Fontana Hilton, and the rules say that I'm guilty of a crime if I cause willful damage to TVA propoerty. This wasn't willful. It was dumb idea meets rotten pole.

Who do I report this to? The TVA? The Nantahala hiking club?

My only mistake, in hindsight, was grabbing everything up and flying back to the car on an adrenaline rush. I don't believe in hit-and-run damages, but I don't think that I committed a criminal act. I just got scared and ran.

I'll talk to whoever they want me to talk to, but it needs to be said right up front that the pole was beyond its useful life or that wouldn't have happened; and it hurt really, really badly to boot!

I'd love to tell them that if they won't charge me for the accidental pole breaking, that I'll sign away any liability that they might or might not have in the manner and cause of my injuries.

I'm only keeping the threat in the back pocket in case they want a whipping boy, which I DON'T WANT TO BE!

I've hung from poles many a time, but never again! I'm hurting and freaking out just a bit too much right now!

Now to go cobble together two hammocks into one and hope that I can make all the repairs. I need to get back out now even more than before. You've got no idea what a telephone pole falling directly atop you, only separated by a small bench that you've rolled under, will do to your mind!

I'll be better in a couple of days, and y'all can laugh all you want. Right now, however, I could just use some support! WHEW!!!


Just Jeff
12-10-2007, 06:26
That's a new one - I don't think I've ever heard of anyone hammock-fighting with a telephone pole...

Hope you feel better soon!

12-10-2007, 07:13
i doubt they will be to concerned about that old pole being broken.
it's probably a good thing that the pole is down since it was in that bad a shape. just glad you weren't hurt more than you were.

anytime you have any doubt at all about something you're going to hang from, kick it, push it, put it to the test.

12-10-2007, 08:41
Kinda doubt they would be liable for anything. Who knows. Did that pole have live wires on it? Glad your o.k

12-10-2007, 08:46
I'm glad you're ok as well. I think I would have trusted the pole too. :eek:

12-10-2007, 09:04
Sounds like that pole was an accident waiting to happen. Sorry you got hurt, on the positive side, it might have been worse. Thanks for the warning, I'll definitely put poles firmly in the dead tree category (aka no-hang!).

12-10-2007, 09:09
Close call! Glad its only a few bruises and bruised ego probably!

What was the pole for? I think FF asked too, were live wires attached? Remnants of an old bear bagging pole?

This is going to sound bad, but not intended that way... are you sure it was a pole? Those pine trees after theyve lost their bark because of the pine-bark-beetles look alot like poles... but are rotten to the core!

Youve got the right idea, get back on that horse! Get out there and do some hanging!

12-10-2007, 09:38
You know the cops' rule: If you run, then you're guilty. Take your tazing like a man. :p :D

I doubt you'll get in trouble for ratting yourself out. It wasn't intentional. Really glad you made it out OK relative to what could have happened, sorry about the hammock. :(

12-10-2007, 09:42
You know the cops' rule: If you run, then you're guilty. Take your tazing like a man. :p :D

I doubt you'll get in trouble for ratting yourself out. It wasn't intentional. Really glad you made it out OK relative to what could have happened, sorry about the hammock. :(

Dont taz me bro.:D

12-10-2007, 10:05
Dude I design electric line for a living. Contact the electric company in the area and let them know. Due to the age of the pole I see no reason they would charge you. As for anyone else looking to hang on utility poles, be careful. If the pole is almost white looking or the top is splintering or there are holes in the pole stay off. If the pole has been climbed a lot over the years it will be really marked up. Stay off these poles or you too could have a hammock fight with a pole.

12-10-2007, 22:06
Wow. That just something you don't hear about everyday. Glad you're okay.

12-10-2007, 23:46
The pole was the one beside the picnic table at the Fontana Hilton shelter. It had a street light on it, now embedded in my tarp in fine fragments. It was nice and dark brown. It looked perfectly stable. Unfortunately, it wasn't.

Can you imagine if that'd happened in the spring, with 6 hikers sitting around that table? &*#$%!

As to liability, I know that it wasn't the fault of whoever owned the pole. I was just talking crazy scared. However, if they tried to charge me with malicious damage or some such, I knew that there are lawyers who'd sue the farmer when you stepped in horse crap--and maybe win!

12-11-2007, 08:15
A few years ago we had to start filtering 10,000 poles out of our system. We found that they would only last a year or two, sometimes if left in the pole yard for too long they would crumble when you picked them up. Surprisingly they looked brand new. It was something wrong with the treatment they used.

12-11-2007, 10:24
IMO, you haven't committed a crime. If you weren't intentionally trying to damage the pole or misusing it recklessly, then there shouldn't be criminal liability. Remember, there's the criminal system where prosectued by the government and there's the civil system where you're sued by a private party.

Civil liability is different. Were you negligent (careless) in using the pole as you did? Beats me. Did you test it or inspect it? Was the pole owner contributorily negligent in not maintianing it? Again, beats me-- you'd have to look at their maintainance records and policies and whatnot. I don't think the owner of the pole will be too deterred by a threat of a suit against it. The legal system generally awards damages for damage and not risk of damage. I'll stop the analysis here, but I could go on.

In the end, do what your conscience tells you is right. If you're upset you broke the pole, admit responsibility and offer to pay for it. Negotiate a payment option if you think they should be responsible for the crappy condition of the pole. If you're worried about being sued, hire a lawyer, and ask him or her to pursue the matter for you. A cheap option is to ask around to find out the cost of replacing the pole, and then send an anonymous donation to the pole owner to cover all or part of the amount. Or you could simply forget about the whole thing. Who's going to think less of you if you just forget about it? Not me, and probably not anybody here, and probably not your friends and family. In the end, it's your conscience and your choice.

Good luck.

12-11-2007, 13:08
I agree with nails. No harm no foul. You did not intend to break the pole and you did not suffer a debilitating injury from the pole breaking....Let it go and just be glad that no one was seriously hurt....In fact you may have saved lives in the processes.... I see you as a Hero! 8^)

12-13-2007, 06:10
On the other hand, I, as a pole owner (supposing), would appreciate the knowledge that it was not just someone trying to tear up my property. I think a simple phone call to say that you were there (don't have to give name you know) and what actually happened should clear your mind and the mind of the pole owner.. Who knows, it could make them start looking at thier property a little better and maybe keep that family of four at the table from getting hurt in the future.

Just a thought!

12-13-2007, 06:32
I can just see this.

"Good evening, this is John Walsh of Amaricas Most Wanted. We need your help tracking down a most malicious vandal of them all. He belongs to a small, but growing group of people known as "Hammock Hangers". He was last seen fleeing from the scene of a hit and run with a telephone pole at the Fontana Hilton. His description as reported by eyewitnesses. A man running hell bent with a mangled hammock and tarp as well as other "Hammocking" items. This happened when he attempted to attach his hammock to the pole and the pole ended up falling down upon him and a picnic table. The picnic table was an innocent bystander and desires to remain nameless. So please, if you know of or see this malicious character contact us at AMW. Thank-you this has been John Walsh."

Seriously though I'm glad that you didn't get hurt.

12-13-2007, 08:14
John Walsh lives here in Vero Beach, maybe I'll go convert him to hammocks. Then the tables would turn; he'd be chasing down villans that put up old poles. :cool: