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  1. #11
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    We do need to be mindful of which trees we hang from.

    I know aspens and birches have bark so thin that it's very easy to mar the phloem of the tree. This should be avoided at all costs.

    But many species of trees have very thick cork layers of bark, and many species have naturally flaky bark.



    The cork layers are nonliving and only serve as protection for the inner living phloem layer. IMO, a little visual marring is really not a concern as long as that marring stays on the outer cork layer and does not penetrate it damaging the phloem.

    Also keep in mind that some bark regenerates more quickly than others. It's beneficial to understand your tree species. Pines with flaky bark, for example, will regenerate new bark fairly quickly. A hardwood whose bark mostly splits/spreads to allow the tree's diameter to grow is another issue, and on such a tree, a little visual marring each time someone hangs a hammock in a busy place can turn into more than just a little visual marring over time.

  2. #12
    mbiraman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbikernate View Post
    We do need to be mindful of which trees we hang from.

    I know aspens and birches have bark so thin that it's very easy to mar the phloem of the tree. This should be avoided at all costs.

    But many species of trees have very thick cork layers of bark, and many species have naturally flaky bark.



    The cork layers are nonliving and only serve as protection for the inner living phloem layer. IMO, a little visual marring is really not a concern as long as that marring stays on the outer cork layer and does not penetrate it damaging the phloem.

    Also keep in mind that some bark regenerates more quickly than others. It's beneficial to understand your tree species. Pines with flaky bark, for example, will regenerate new bark fairly quickly. A hardwood whose bark mostly splits/spreads to allow the tree's diameter to grow is another issue, and on such a tree, a little visual marring each time someone hangs a hammock in a busy place can turn into more than just a little visual marring over time.
    +1, What he said
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  3. #13
    Scottybdiving's Avatar
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    I'm sure that anybody that has spent time hiking or hunting in bear country, or elk and deer for that matter, has noticed claw marks and rubs. I have seen on many occasions where the bark was litterally stripped, along game trails where animals have been travelling for generations. These trees survive and withstand all the damage with no signs of being stressed. However, I believe in LNT, and consider it prudent to minimize my impact. I feel that using tree straps does nothing more than polishing or dislodging what is already dead bark. I don't see that to be of any consequence to all but the most delicate varieties.
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  4. #14
    Senior Member Cannibal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scottybdiving View Post
    I'm sure that anybody that has spent time hiking or hunting in bear country, or elk and deer for that matter, has noticed claw marks and rubs. I have seen on many occasions where the bark was litterally stripped, along game trails where animals have been travelling for generations. These trees survive and withstand all the damage with no signs of being stressed.
    I think the item to take away from what mtbikernate posted is the idea of repeated compression of the outer layers. That's the problem with camping in established campgrounds, obviously the best hanging spots will be used over and over and over again. In most cases, the webbing, huggers, or cord will be placed within inches of the person's suspension that was there the night before. Effectively giving the tree no recovery time during the season. Animal marks and scaring are random and not usually repeated day after day on the same tree. The marks are also more spread apart simply because of the size diversity of the animals making the marks.

    Not to say I don't see the logic of your viewpoint, but I think the animals are more like a storm that comes through and does damage. Hammock use would be more like the Colorado River digging the Grand Canyon; a little bit at a time, but relentless.

    Of course, this will only be an issue at very high usage camps, like the shelter system along the AT. The really good news, at least for the time being, is that many hammockers choose hammocks so they don't have to camp near the shelters. It's very unlikely that randomly camped hangers will cause any significant damage over any length of time. It's the consolidated camping areas that will be a mess if the popularity of hammocks continues IMO.
    Trust nobody!

  5. #15
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    I have a fear that someday a ranger will happen by and see that I've knocked a bit of pine bark off and declare it unacceptable and make me sleep on the ground. I don't normally travel with a pad, and that would be an uncomfortable and cold night.

    I usually camp in remote areas way out of sight of the trail, so I really don't need to worry about that. I do my best to sway gently from the trees. If I have to readjust my webbing, I loosen it completely first so that I'm not choking the bark as I slide my loop up the trunk.
    Last edited by vitamaltz; 02-23-2010 at 12:52.
    .. truly to enjoy bodily warmth, some small part of you must be cold, for there is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself. If you flatter yourself that you are all over comfortable, and have been so a long time, then you cannot be said to be comfortable any more. - Herman Melville

  6. #16
    Senior Member tomsawyer222's Avatar
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    I think that just like sleeping on the ground and the damage that results from it damage from hammocks (what little there is) will be accepted by everyone even rangers eventually once enough people do it.

  7. #17
    Senior Member Harpo63's Avatar
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    Do we have any Arborists on this forum that has or can chime in? I used to build Rope Courses around the country- both poles and in trees. We used techniques endorsed by arborists in taking care of trees, etc. Ive also taught Rock Climbing with the same adventure program and used straps for anchor points... from all I've learned, yes there are some trees that are more sensitive than others, but many are hardy and can tolerate a little marring of the bark. Bark is the trees protective layer that is meant to absorb any abuse and protects the tree. Yes like has been said before, bark does regenerate quickly in most cases and the problem is usually overuse of same trees as in a popular campsite. So if you hang from trees that don't usually see hammocks, you should be fine.

    Im now wondering if we should be proactive with the popular campgrounds where we know rangers are saying "no" to hanging... if we promote that they could install posts or something for hanging? That might be a way to accommodate hangers in a public campground and prevent certain trees from being overused by hammock straps/lines?

  8. #18
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    With the way the world works now (being eco-hypersensitive), it's better to be proactive than ask forgiveness. I'd hate to not be allowed to use a hammock because of regulations, rules, and previous bad behavior. Personally, if a tree hugger broke, I'd still hang while backpacking, but I'd do it with the tree and my impact on others in mind.

    mtbikernate - Good info and diagram you provided.

  9. #19
    Senior Member opie984's Avatar
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    Harpo63, you make a good point. I've noticed that in established campgrounds, it can be a little challenging at times to find two trees appropriately spaced. So it might not be a bad idea to begin asking for poles to be installed. Perhaps even offer to do it ourselves, thus saving the rangers from having to worry about the cost of installing them and requesting funds, etc.

    I am not an arborist, but I do have a degree in horticulture. I can tell you that the two safest species of trees to use for hanging are pines (although sap may sway some away) and oaks. Pines are a very resilient species. Here in the panhandle of Florida, many of our forests undergo regular controlled burning and within a season or two you can't even tell the bark was burned on a pine. The live oaks and water oaks bark is not super thick, but it is tough.

  10. #20
    SlowBro's Avatar
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    I suspect there are folks in this group that could calculate the forces that are distributed on the tree given a particular weight of hanger and the angle of the support line. (Grizz? TeeDeeZ? Frawg? others I've forgotten). The variables of tree diameter and webbing thickness would obviously have to be designated, too. Back in my engineering days (30 years ago) I might have attempted this but, alas, it has been a long time. Maybe we could figure a way to measure it empirically using pressure sensors. Likely the force will vary along the length of the webbing. I will have to think...
    -SlowBro
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