Afternoon hangs: Getting in touch with Mother Nature

Afternoon+hangs%3A+Getting+in+touch+with+Mother+Nature

Many students enjoy hammocking on and off-campus.  CW | Shelby Akin

Sam West

Hammocking—or owning a hammock—has become a staple for all sorts of people, not just people who live active, outdoor lives.

“You get to kind of be in a perspective you’re not always in because you’re out in nature and in air, which is not something we usually experience,” said Elsie Clute, a sophomore majoring in Spanish and New College.

Hammocking is a way to escape the stress of college life, which is why the hobby has such a devoted following among UA students. Clute was originally introduced to the hobby by her boyfriend, but several of her friends also own hammocks.

“I think the first time I was ever actually in one, my boyfriend took me to the Riverwalk,” she said.

Though she occasionally does enjoy hammocking in solitude, most of the time, Clute prefers the social aspect of the hobby. She has a double-nester, a larger hammock that can comfortably fit two people.

“I like to talk to people that way. It takes everything else out of the picture,” she said. “You’re in the middle of the woods, or at least surrounded by trees, so there’s not any distractions. There’s not a TV or a computer or a cell phone or anything else really, so it takes out all the distractions of life, and you can really just talk to someone and really get to know them.”

Rae Galbreath, a junior majoring in communication studies, started hammocking in high school, when the hobby was popular. Her favorite place to go hike and hammock around Tuscaloosa is Lake Nicol.

“I usually hike all the way toward the end of the trail, where there’s not a lot of people there,” she said. “I usually set up my hammock there, there’s a lot of great views. I also go to the Lake Nicol spillway, where there’s a big waterfall there, or rapids, and I set up my ENO.”

ENO is a lightweight brand of hammock produced by Eagle Nest Outfitters. It’s the favorite among students because it’s easy to carry.

Galbreath’s favorite part of hammocking is that it enhances the 
hiking experience.

“I like to, when I get to my destination, have something I can lay with or somewhere I can relax, because I don’t want to just sit on the ground,” she said. “[The hammock] being super lightweight, I can just pack it in my backpack. It’s not that annoying to carry around, and I like setting it up and actually having time to relax once I get to the destination and not just see it and leave. It’s like setting up camp but not really.”

Though the hammock seems to be mostly an outdoor accessory, that’s not always the case. Clute told me she had a hammock hanging by a window in her living room, where it acted like a piece of indoor furniture.

Wilson Lin, co-founder of Serac Hammocks, a new outdoor company started this year, said the appeal of hammocking and the outdoors might be particularly special to the Millennial generation.

“As we become more digitally dependent on our devices, the outdoors provides almost a meditative place of solitude and wonder,” Wilson said. “It lets people live in the moment. You no longer have the constant urge to check your phone for notifications and texts. You’re just taking one step at a time and enjoying the world around you.”