The joys of hammocking at Saint Louis University

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Imagine this: You have reached a state of complete and total relaxation, but you are not on an exotic vacation; you are experiencing feelings of intense euphoria that surround and overcome your physical being, but you have taken no psychedelic drug; you are suspended in midair for what seems like forever, but you possess no superhuman ability. Between you and the ground, a pair of burly trees flex their bulging muscles back and forth to ensure that you do not feel the slightest fluctuation of the elements, as you are wrapped between their arms on a well-manufactured tarp, a gift from the heavens—a hammock. Hammocking is rapidly becoming one of the most popular hobbies that college students are adopting, and for good reason. Inside a hammock, time seems to temporarily freeze as stress evaporates and friendships—along with memories—solidify.

As the frequency of warm weather increases and expands across the city of St. Louis this spring, so will the quantity of hammocks that occupy trees up and down West Pine. These hammocks dress the limbs and trunks around campus in every color under the sun. They also possess a melodical quality, as their inhabitants are typically loquacious college students, catching up with one another and untangling the mysteries of life, one conversation at a time.

I recently had the chance to converse with various hammockers to find out why they relish in this pastime and what tips they may offer for new hammockers at Saint Louis University. Freshman physical therapy student, Hannah Siemer, willingly joined the conversation by saying, “My favorite part about hammocking is that I can be outside, relax and be with my friends, all in the same setting. Seeing all the heads turn and interacting with students passing by is awesome as well.” It is no wonder why the heads turn either; on an “island” located outside of Simon Recreation Center, there are sometimes as many as six or more hammocks strung between three trees. However, don’t be fooled by the look of ease that these hammockers display while setting up their community among the treetops. It takes a great deal of skill to build up to this level of hammocking; just ask Katherine Kopriva.

Kopriva, a freshman  in SLU’s nursing program and a seasoned veteran on the hammock, has spent a great deal of time enjoying the art and had some advice for up-and-coming hammockers at SLU. Sorting through her vast knowledge of the craft, she offered, “Don’t be too ambitious your first time slinging your hammock up. Stick to one hammock per pair of trees or else you’ll end up on the ground like I have! Once you have some experience, be as ambitious as your heart desires!”

Like anything, a little practice can go a long way in seeing improvements. Regardless, just about anyone who has ever hammocked knows that about 80 to 90 percent of hammocking is mental. It is all about achieving a degree of confidence in which you no longer fear what is below, but rather bask in the glory of what lies above. In closing, after talking to all these hammockers and being an avid hammocker myself, I would highly encourage anyone who is mildly interested in taking on hammocking as a hobby to give it a try. It’s amazing how much relaxation and enjoyment can be found in the trees.

A few tips to consider from the pros:

Bring snacks and water if you are planning a long afternoon in the treetops.

Coordinate for someone in your group to bring a wireless speaker for music.

If you are pressed for space, test out the double decker approach, in which two hammocks share a set of trees. Leave adequate space as a courtesy for the bottom-tier hammock.