Somebody on this list or in one of the hammock forums describes having a
pack of wolves run under her hammock. I've noticed that birds do not
seem to recognize my Hennessey hammock as something to do with humans.
As to the emergency scenarios, my experience has been that any time I'd
really need to use leaves for insulation, I'd also be in the middle of a
typhoon--in which case, everything is completely soaked, especially the
leaves. This is, actually, when a hammock would be nice, since you'd be
sleeping over the flow and not in it. But I'd rather not count on there
being any leaves. Of course, in the deciduous forests of eastern USA,
there usually seems no shortage of leaves.
Fire? I always think of Jack London's To Build a Fire. Really, if
you're cold, keep walking or get into your sleeping bag and crack open
that bar of emergency chocolate. Besides, if the terrain is really too
steep for even a bivy sac, then it's probably a lousy place to build a fire.
I don't think I'd want a fire too close to my hammock.
If I was really only going to carry something for emergency, I'd carry a
bivy sac or windbreaker (this summer Campmor was selling a cagoule that
you could cinch tight and transform into a bivy sac of sorts) and enough
closed-cell foam pad to sit on cross-legged. Depending on weather and
inclination, I might add my sleeping bag and maybe a tarp. Then I'd
find a place to burrow and get out of the wind. I'd do this even when
in a typhoon and everything is flowing like a river. If I'm backpacking
and carrying overnight gear, then I should have already have everything
I need for survival, whether hanging in a hammock or rolled up in a tarp
on the ground.
Frankly, in your waterfall scenario, depending a whole lot on the trail
conditions, I think the best thing would be to keep moving slowly until
you get back to the trail head.
This past spring, we were in a situation with one of our six-member team
deteriorating due to altitude sickness. We were staying in a climbing
hut at about 3200 m (>10,000 ft) and that day had climbed to about 3900
meters (>12,000 ft) to the top of Taiwan's second highest mountain. He
didn't have the usual symptoms (headache, coughing) and he hadn't
communicated that he was having trouble (2+ days without being able to
keep down any food). The second night at altitude, he started sounding
terrible and wasn't responding well. A friend in another group told us
to make sure he slept sitting up. It did help.
While he dozed, we discussed and weighed the importance of getting him
down as soon as possible against the safety of the entire group
attempting the hike in the dark. There was a real trail that required
nothing technical, but there were plenty of places where a fall would
have serious consequences (i.e. really big boo boos). We decided 1)
we'd stay together as a group, 2)hiking down in the dark was no go, and
3) we'd leave as soon as we could after dawn. We all made it out ok and
as we got lower, the altitude sickness definitely got better. The
biggest battle was helping him fight fatigue--he kept wanting to sit
down and sleep and we kept getting him up and moving.