The best way to test a hammock is to spend a whole night in it. This however is not always as easy to organise as you might imagine. Trees are relatively easy to come by but finding two pairs of suitable trees in a sensible location can by tricky.
Which is why Mr D and I recently ended up hammocking in our local copse.
A local hammocking experience
It’s a very nice copse and we’ve slept in our hammocks there before (most notably on a very noisy New Year’s Eve hammock camp). One of its biggest advantages is that it is just up the road, which makes sneaking up after dark really easy.
But hanging hammocks in the dark isn’t that easy.
Actually the hammock hanging itself isn’t so much of a problem as the tree-finding. Don’t get me wrong, this copse has a set of perfect hammocking trees but they are right in the path of early morning dog walkers. We blundered around for a while but eventually found four trees that would work.
Even if they were on a rather steep slope.
After a bit of rope faff and slope negotiation, we both achieved disaster-free hammock entry. Because of the slope, mine was a little low on one side but my bottom wasn’t touching the floor.
But in the middle of the night, it was touching a badger!
At least I’m pretty sure it was. Around midnight, in my half dreaming state I thought I could feel and hear someone standing next to me, shaking my shoulder. Confused, I let out a cry to make myself wake up properly (I enjoy solo wild camping so this is just one of my ‘scared while camping strategies’). The cry worked and I lay awake for a while afterwards, a bit shaky but convinced I had been dreaming.
I didn’t suspect the badger at that point.
I slept then but before sunrise the next morning I woke again to hear more rustling. I knew I was awake this time and the rustling sounded heavy enough to be a person. Convinced it was, I planned my multi-zip escape route then wriggled around in my hammock to try and spot the culprit. I couldn’t see anything.
I should have made the badger connection.
It wasn’t until the morning when Mr D woke up that I understood who our nighttime visitor had been. We are lucky enough to have a badger sett nearby. They sometimes visit the garden and we often see them exploring the roads at night. Mr D had heard rustling too and suspected the badgers immediately.
Camping with badgers
I’m not sure whether to be excited or scared about our nocturnal visitation. It’s easy, and perhaps quite right, to feel vulnerable when you are camping; even if you’re strung up above the floor. It wasn’t the best night’s sleep I’ve ever had but one thing’s for sure about this badger encounter.
I’m really glad I was in my hammock and not my bivvy bag!