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therapeutic hammocking

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  • uluheman
    A couple of weeks ago a few friends and I hiked along Na Pali Coast on Kaua`i to Kalalau Valley. This was my seventh trip along the 11- mile coastal trail,
    Message 1 of 2 , Oct 16, 2003
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      A couple of weeks ago a few friends and I hiked along Na Pali Coast
      on Kaua`i to Kalalau Valley. This was my seventh trip along the 11-
      mile coastal trail, which varies in altitude from sea level to about
      800 ft, climbing up and down on narrow trails, in and out of valleys
      and gulches, often with bad footing and sheer dropoffs.

      About half-way in, on a ferociously hot, sunny, and humid day, I
      sprained my ankle while crossing Hanakoa Stream. I'd never had a
      sprain before, but I knew I'd suffered more than a little tweak. I
      could actually feel what I later found out were ligaments tearing as
      I slipped--and it wasn't even a bad slip. I could still move my foot
      and wiggle my toes, and my ankle didn't swell up immediately, so I
      just hiked the last five miles, set up the tent, got water from the
      waterfall behind the wide, wild beach (the first winter swell was
      just arriving and huge surf was pounding), and waited for my
      companions.

      There is a hammock story here, which is why I'm telling you the tale.
      My foot swelled up that night and it rained hard. We heard rocks,
      loosened by the rain from the ancient and crumbling cliffs just
      behind the campsites, falling, bouncing, rolling, and crashing near
      us. We curled foetally with our arms over our heads, knowing that our
      attempts to protect ourselves would be useless if one of those two-to-
      four-foot diameter boulders homed in on the lime-green 2 1/2 lb A-
      frame tent that I'd made. Believe me, even those blind boulders could
      spot that lime-green silnylon in the dark. We survived, and a
      whopping rock was found the next morning parked behind a nearby
      protective wall built over the years by campers out of other fallen
      rocks that littered the area.

      It rained most of the next day and off and on for a couple more days.
      Two of our friends who were travelling slower got drenched the first
      night at the halfway point and just turned around and hiked back out,
      though we didn't find that our until getting back to civilization.
      (The father-son team hiking in to whom they gave an explanatory note
      for us apparently never made it in, either.) The sun didn't come out
      until day five of the trip, when the tradewinds started to blow
      again. The few people in the area came out into the sun like crabs
      out of their holes, taking off their damp clothes and worshipping the
      good weather. A couple of naked girls floated in the vast, temporary
      lake that had been created when the huge waves swamped the beach.
      We're babies here, weather-weenies who are used to near-perfect
      conditions, and more than a day or two of "bad" conditions unhinges
      us. But there is a hammock story coming.

      During all this time I was only able to hobble to the waterfall to
      bathe and in the other direction for certain other necessities. I
      didn't get down to the beach and I didn't walk up into the valley,
      three or fours miles deep and full of streams, pools, waterfalls, and
      fruit trees clandistinely planted by the valley's "outlaws," who live
      there on a semi-permanent basis without permits.

      So, what did I do? I hung in my one-pound Hammock Bliss double near
      the waterfall, with a view of the ocean and what was left of the
      beach. I kept my sprained ankle elevated, chatted with the few other
      people who came by, read "The Botany of Desire" (highly recommended),
      enjoyed the ministrations of my kind companions, and waited till the
      swelling came down. When it rained, I moved the hammock to the
      shelter of a maintenance shed not far away. By the afternoon of the
      fifth day, we hiked partway out, and completed the exit on Day Six;
      picture me hobbling like a drunken spider with two Lekis propping me
      up. My pace wasn't really much slower than it would have been without
      the injury.

      Now, two weeks after the injury, I'm still limping a bit. My favorite
      relief is just lying in the Mayan hammock I have strung up in our
      living room. But, of course, that would be true injury or no!

      On this trip we took a tent as primary shelter for three of us and I
      almost omitted any hammock, trying to pare our weight to the bone. I
      finally decided, though, that the one pounder was worth it, and it
      certainly proved its value. I'd have been miserable without it. So,
      don't forget to pack your hammock right next to that Ace bandage. You
      may need them both.

      Brandon in Honolulu
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