The cool breeze gently swayed my hammock, rustling the boughs of the pine trees above me. A faint sliver of sunlight peaked through my tarp. I could hear Adam’s gentle breathing in the hammock next to me. He shifted positions, still deep in sleep, the fabric groaning under his weight.The hour digit pinged 7 a.m. on my watch. I turned off the beeping alarm before it could disturb him. Sliding out of my sleeping bag, I quietly inched away to the lake we were camped beside. Its placid waters hardly stirred in the early morning dawn, the stillness mirroring my own inner stillness. I stretched, feeling suddenly very awake. I had slept through the night without waking once, an accomplishment in and of itself for any overnighter in the woods, let alone one spent in a hammock.Adam and I have spent a fair amount of time swingin’ from the trees. In 2014, during his thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, Adam camped every night in the ENO hammock he bought when he was 16. During my 2011 NOLS semester in the Amazon, I slept in a hammock for nearly two months, after which I immediately bought my own hammock setup. Clearly, something about sleeping between two trunks spoke to us.We’ve had our bouts of failure, for sure: misjudged tree distances, unexpected storms, insufficient rigging, relentless bugs (there’s also that one time I fell out of my hammock that I don’t like to talk about…I may or may not still have some residual bruising). It’s not unlike a work of art, setting up the perfect hammock camp. There’s a finesse to it, a proficiency that comes only with time.So if you’ve just recently made the swap from tent to hammock (or are thinking about it), check out our top 10 tips and tricks for getting the perfect hammock camp!Make it work for you.Adam likes his hammock a little loose, with his head higher than his feet. I like mine a little tighter, a little straighter, so I can spread out diagonally and feel as if I’m laying on a bed. Don’t listen to any one person’s advice on hammock rigging. Experiment, and get it comfortable for your body!Set up your rain tarp, even if it’s sunny.Chances are, you’re going to be camping in the mountains, where fickle weather patterns can change without a moment’s notice. Even if you only set up your tarp halfway, at least you’ll know it fits the distance between the trees before the storm lets loose.Always have a drip line.There’s nothing worse than waking in the middle of the night to discover that, while your tarp might be holding up just fine, your hammock is still soaking up water from the tree straps. Fashion a little cordelette on either end of your hammock, attaching it to the carabiners, and watch the water trickle down the line and away from your cozy cocoon.Try rigging a ridgeline.I always carry enough additional cordelette, longer than the length of my hammock, to fashion a ridgeline. This line runs directly over my hammock, and while some use it to support their tarp (try tying two prusiks to keep it taut), I like to use mine to hang headlamps and wet socks as well. If you want to get real fancy, ENO makes some cool Twilight backcountry Christmas lights which can easily wind around the ridgeline for additional lighting. While a little less fancy, their Moonshine Lantern serves a similar function and comes equipped with a hook for hanging on your ridgeline.Invest in a non-inflatable sleeping pad.Adam and I both use Therm-a-Rest Z Lites, which are lightweight and flexible. You might not think you’ll need it, but trust us—that gentle breeze rocking you to sleep will also, eventually, make you numb with cold. You don’t need much, just another layer between you and the fabric, but it’s essential.Come prepared with stakes.Not every campsite is going to have perfectly placed roots, rocks, or other natural elements to secure your tarp to. Stakes take the guessing out of rigging, though if you do happen to forget (or worse, lose) your stakes, try burying a solid stick horizontally under six inches of soil. Place a hefty rock or other weighty object on top, just for some extra security.Higher is not better.So, though it feels really cool to be swinging up high in the trees with your feet dangling below you, it’s not a very practical place to be hanging out all night. For starters, getting in a hammock is hard enough close to the ground, let alone when you have to jump up into it. Secondly, if and when a storm hits, you want to be as low to the ground as possible (try for two to three feet) so the wind isn’t gusting rain up underneath the tarp.Secure everything.Curious critters, wind, rain, you name it, if it’s not put away before you hit the hay, it could very well be gone or damaged tomorrow. Hang your pack from the hammock’s carabiner. Tie your shoelaces together and slap ’em over your ridgeline. Make everything neat and stormproof, so that even if it’s your first time in the backcountry, at least you look like you know what you’re doing.Consider a groundsheet.When you opt for a hammock instead of a tent, all of a sudden, simple things like changing clothes and putting on shoes can become chores. Make it easy with a groundsheet. Adam carried a piece of Tyvek with him on the trail (which he also staked out) so he could have a nice clean, dry surface to stand on before getting in his hammock. This also helps reduce the amount of gravel and dirt that inevitably winds up in your hammock, too.Be conscientious about your hammock’s position.If it’s windy, don’t set your hammock up so that it acts like a sail and less like a bed. If you have even the faintest hint of breeze in the air, notice it, and try to avoid hanging your hammock so that it’s broadside to the draft. There’s truly nothing more annoying than hearing your tarp flap against your hammock all night long.
By Richard Martin(REUTERS)-Cristiano Ronaldo is angry with his recent record in front of goal but not anxious about when he will find the net next, Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said yesterday.With four strikes in nine appearances in all competitions, Real’s all-time top scorer is in the midst of his worst start to a season since joining the Spanish champions from Manchester United in 2009.Ronaldo failed to score in Real’s 5-1 drubbing of Legia Warsaw and Sunday’s 2-1 success over Athletic Bilbao, substitute Alvaro Morata hitting the winner to take Real top of La Liga.“I don’t think he’s anxious but he is perhaps angry, he wants to score goals and that’s normal,” Zidane told a news conference ahead of Real’s trip to Alaves.Ronaldo is the Ballon d’Or favourite after winning the Champions League with Real and European Championship with Portugal. He also scored over 50 goals for Real for a record sixth consecutive season.“He is unique because of what he has done and what he continues to do. He has set the bar so high that when he doesn’t score people on the outside are surprised,” said Zidane.“He has to live with that, that’s what it’s like for phenomenal players like him.”Alaves are 13th in the standings on 10 points, 11 behind Zidane’s side.The Frenchman, however, is wary of the threat posed by the Basque side, who beat champions Barcelona 2-1 at the start of the campaign, as his team look to build on a three-game winning streak in La Liga and the league and Champions League.“I expect a very difficult game. They haven’t lost at home yet and are doing so well this season,” added Zidane.
Yet thanks to those following his adventures on Twitter, he has now become a celebrity – and the African football boss has presented him with a ticket to this Friday’s final between Algeria and Senegal.‘Africa is not friendly to Africans’When the 32-year-old arrived in the Egyptian capital last week, completing his 44-day 10,000km (6,200-mile) trip, he said it was well worth it despite some nerve-wracking experiences.And he says he has learnt a lot about himself and Africa.“I used to think I was not patient – but my patience was stretched to the maximum – I’ve got a bigger patience threshold than I thought,” he told the BBC.His other more sobering discovery was that “Africa is not friendly to Africans” – in terms of visas and borders.Most people visiting from Europe or the US were treated better, he said.“And some of the visa fees for African countries, they are actually more expensive than visa fees when you want to go to Europe – and the waiting period takes too long.“I believe we need a borderless Africa.”The journey began on 27 May on a route passing through South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt.‘We wanted to make history’He started off with his friend Botha Msila, a South African football fan, who lives near Cape Town, and they hitched lifts or caught buses.“We wanted to make history as the first people to make it from Cape to Cairo by road for a sports tournament,” Zhakata said.The locum nurse, who lives in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, had kept in touch with Msila since meeting him at the Cosafa Cup final in South Africa’s Sun City two years ago.He had told him about how he had made a solo road trip in 2016 from Harare to Kigali to support the Warriors at the African Nations Championship in Rwanda.They then cooked up their plan and raised funds for the journey from well-wishers following the hashtag #CapeToCairo to see their progress across the continent.But the two friends were separated when Msila turned back at the Kenya-Ethiopian border as he could not get a visa.Ethiopia only allows online visa applications for travellers by road.While they had the fee in cash, they needed help to get the funds electronically into their account. But then their application was further delayed by five days.“Unfortunately their system was down because there was a national internet shutdown to avoid exam cheating,” explained Zhakata.“I was so dejected that I couldn’t finish my food and my beer.”Msila, known for his travels across South Africa and beyond to support the Bafana Bafana and his local club Bloemfontein Celtic, was so distraught he threw in the towel, returning to Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.A South African broadcaster came to his rescue paying for a flight for him from Nairobi to Cairo.Scariest momentBut Zhakata was determined to stick to his guns.And that is exactly what he walked into in Sudan where the security forces were out in force as protesters took to the streets of the capital, Khartoum, on 30 June demanding an end to military rule.The country has been hit by turmoil since the military ousted President Omar al-Bashir in April, but Zhakata hadn’t a clue what was going on.He walked directly into the path of the protest as he was making his way to the Egyptian Consulate in Khartoum.“I could tell that something was happening, but I couldn’t tell what,” said Zhakata.“I saw graffiti on the walls written in Arabic, with the number 30, but I couldn’t understand it. There were soldiers everywhere and people told me it’s not safe.”He was detained by police briefly and then released in what he calls a “shaking moment”.People who were following his journey on social media then became extremely concerned as there was no news from Zhakata for more than a week.The internet had been shut down in the country since a crackdown on pro-democracy activists on 3 June.“I did find a place where I could go online for $30 (£24) for an hour. I saw all of these messages on social media with people being worried about me.”Nairobi thumbs downHis wry observations about life on the continent have been a subject of debate.The Kenyan capital does not get a particularly good write-up: “Enter Nairobi, everything changed, traffic congestion unbearable, filthy and muddy streets, potholes, lots of activity, vendors with megaphones, bikes hooting, and generally dodgy pip.“Everyone who helped us asked for a tip. Even police officers.”In central Tanzania he observed that children of school-going age were working as vendors on the highway “selling farm produce, grapes, honey and fish. It seems education is not a priority in this part of the world”.Besides the visa headaches, language was the most difficult barrier. In Tanzania he said most people were unwilling to communicate in English, and they were “even told to learn Swahili at school”.In Ethiopia when he was ordered off a bus at 18:00 local time because of a transport curfew he tried to find a bar to watch the Warriors’ match that night – but ended up, after many crossed wires and an expensive taxi ride, at a shop selling sports equipment.But he was welcomed in some towns by people who were following his journey online – like Firew Asrat in Hawassa in Ethiopoia, who gave him football shirts and shared a beer with him. He tweeted: “This #Tweethiopian is the walking embodiment of the mantra #AfricaUnite.”He says he tasted the best beer of his trip in mainly Muslim Egypt – a Stella – perhaps out of relief that his exploits were over. The best food – of roasted meat and maize meal – was in Zambia.His one disappointment has been the performance of the Warriors, who crashed out in the first round – amidst rows over pay.But he says his achievement – which has become one of the biggest stories of this Africa Cup of Nations tournament – shows it pays to “dare to dream”.“If you have a passion for something, go for it. Pursue it until you get it. It may be delayed, but delay is not denial – be patient and be strong, because the harder the battle, the sweeter the victory,” he says. Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram A Zimbabwean nurse travelled from Cape Town to Cairo by road enduring visa delays, internet blackouts and revolutionary protests all for the love of football.Alvin “Aluvah” Zhakata had intended to make it to Egypt for the opening match of the Africa Cup of Nations on 21 June, when Zimbabwe’s Warriors took on the hosts.But he missed the match because his epic journey took much longer than expected.