Hey all! It took a while to get around to this, but I figured it was about time come clean. My introduction to hammock camping was a complete accident. We had a huge family gathering on my wife's side up in the Sawtooths, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try out the gi-normous tent we purchased as a family Christmas gift.
For whatever reason, I dragged along an old 1970's floral print bedsheet to sleep with in addition to the sleeping bag. When I finally had some time to kill I thought "Why not turn that crummy bedsheet into a hammock and just chill for a bit?" So I gathered some rope, tied a sheet-bend on either side, strung it up, and (if I do say so myself) it was actually quite awful
. I'm 6'5", so my head rested against the top-knot, and my feet shot over the bottom end. After about 5 minutes my knees hyper-extended, so in disgust I left that death-trap fairly convinced that hammocking sucked. And then it happened…
I don't know if it was the altitude, or something I ate, but after a heavy day of hiking I went to bed and started to feel kind of queasy. When it finally became apparent that I might have to mop out the new family tent, I threw on my jacket and paced around outside hoping some cold air would do the trick. It didn’t, and three hours later I was sick, cold, and exhausted. So plopped down into my 1970’s floral print death-trap, crossed my legs so that my ankles hung over the side instead of over the bottom, and fell asleep.
I’m not going to romanticize that experience—I woke up two hours later very, VERY cold. By then I was feeling better, so I joined the family in the tent. When I woke up two hours later with the family, I was cold, my back, shoulders and collar-bone were stiff, and my ribs were bruised (in spite of my taking every precaution preparing the tent site, something managed to find its way directly underneath me (if I had to posit a guess based on the amount of bruising I would say that I must have inadvertently pitched our tent on top of our F-350 Econoline van)). It was then that I realized—my worst night in a poorly made, ill-suited hammock was heaven compared to what is my average experience on the ground.
At that point I was ready to put in thousands of man hours experimenting to find a way to make this whole hammock thing work. I got home and after a single Google search stumbled upon HF (which saved me thousands of hours of experimenting, and quite possibly my marriage as well (the Missus is from solid Idaho pioneer stock, and while she doesn’t view hammocking as subversive, she does consider it somewhat frivolous, and so begrudges the hundreds of hours I have spent reading HF (if she only knew what the alternative was
At any rate, since that fateful night I have decided that I would rather roast for an eternity in the nethermost forges of Hades than spend another second on the ground in a tent. So when people ask me why I won’t talk about anything other than making my own hammock, I simply tell them, “Because the worst night in a hammock is better than the best night in a tent.”