No announcement yet.

Throwing line over a tree limb, and a recent revelation

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Throwing line over a tree limb, and a recent revelation

    Eric’s mention of “tie some sort of weight to the end of it, whether it be a rock or waterbottle. . . . .” got me thinking about throwing line over limb.

    We don’t do much food hanging anymore. Sometimes we hang a small garbage container, more often we are tossing line over limb get the ridgeline with a large tarp, to set it sufficiently high for some headroom at the edges. It’s nice to be able to walk under the tarp in any direction in fair weather, and if it starts to rain or blow it’s easy enough to drop one or both sides.

    In days past, especially back in food hanging days, where we wanted to hang our vittles both high enough, and sufficiently far enough away from the truck, we tied off to rocks or chunks of wood. Though never to a water bottle; I’m not chucking a pricey stainless Kleen Kanteen in the air. Or even an ancient Mirro.

    Rocks and wood hurled aloft, with all of the usual mishaps. The rock came untied and went flying. Finding that perfectly shaped and weighed tie-to rock is itself a challenge. Plus there ain’t no rocks in some coastal piney forests. And don’t throw towards the tent or tarp, just in case.

    Worse, the rock or log didn’t come untied, it looped around the limb just perfectly, and came flying back just as perfectly aimed at the thrower’s face. Run away, run away.

    Or, worst case scenario, the weight and tied-on line gets tangled in the branches. Oh look, I have made a rope swing that I can’t get down.

    I started bring a weight. Sometimes a golf ball with a small eye screw, which is also the spare object ball for all terrain bocce (or DIY putt putt golf with custom whittled clubs)

    More often lately a tennis ball with a small slit. I can just knot up a ball at the end of the rope and stuff the bulbous knotted end securely in the tennis ball slit, and add some pebbles for weight if needed. It is at least friendlier if it does arc back and bounce off my noggin.

    The line, not being actually tied to the tennis ball, pulls easily out of the slit if the ball gets stuck. And the slit tennis ball serves double duty if I need some cushion at the tip of a tarp center pole. Play catch with it too, or fetch on dog trips (bring extras in that guise).

    Throwing line over limb revelation to follow, I need to find a demonstration video, it’s too hard to describe with words.

    Revelation; how to throw a line over a limb. Google Machine found a demo video. Starting at around 35 seconds:

    That how-to-throw-a-line revelation was a recent observation, which demonstrated that I have been attempting to throw line over limb incorrectly all my life. We had a tall, dead Virginia pine taken down last weekend. Climber spiked up, topped it and then dropped the remaining trunk perfectly from the ground. Mad skills John.

    A couple of dead pine branches broke off and hung up in a tall maple on the way down. The climber got out a box of line, with a small weight (which looked like a bull’s testicle, don’t ask how I know) to throw around the offending pine limbs caught well stuck in the branchy maple. A good 30 feet in the air.

    I looked at that mess of tangled limbs and said “How many throws do you think it will take you”.

    He just looked at me funny. Three throws to snag two well caught pine limbs (one only came halfway down the maple before it caught up again on lower branches).

    He used that video’s two handed betwixt the legs technique for throwing the line. I had never seen that before, though I doubt it is anything new in his business. He held the line with both hands in a vee pattern, with the line doubled back on one side, so he had a total of 8 or 9 feet of rope in hand(s), held kinda \\/ with the weight pendulumed at the bottom, while tossing some equally aimed line along with the weight.

    He threw it underhanded, as shown, from between his legs, first practice swinging it a few times and shuffling is feet like a golfer aiming a put.

    He was freaking uncannily accurate with that technique. Squaring up to face the target seems naturally aiming beneficial, as I suspect is throwing underhanded, presenting a narrower arc as the rope went goes and comes down.

    Really impressively accurate on every throw. Throwing underhand he stood but a few feet back from under the target, and his toss had a steep aspect ratio, unlike an overhand Hail Mary hurled from 20 feet back that ends up three branches too far over and tangled up.

    I believe I’ve been doing at over-limb toss wrong all my life.

    I am sure he had a lot of experience with that technique, but if that’s the way professionals throw line over limbs with accuracy, that’s a good enough recommendation for me.

    Esprit d'escalier, I really should have asked “Please teach me that”. Hell, I would have paid for an in-person instruction.


      i am one of several instructors for a course for wilderness guide certification. Each student in a small group gets his/her turn at being the "leader of the day". The first night is the most stressful, especially for the first chosen group leader. When it comes time to hang the bear bag (hopefully before dark), it often becomes a circus. First is the hunt for an appropriate tree with a good branch at a reasonable distance from camp. Then what to use for a weight. Rocks, sticks, water bottle, boots have all gone up and either missed (the usual case) or wrapped itself around a branch and got stuck up high, sometimes irretrievably wedged in a crotch of the tree. Then there is the contest to see who can do it within 3 tries. Jocks will try to throw overhand, not knowing that underhand works far better. We all have a good laugh at the trial and errors and eventually the job gets done.

      A fellow instructor friend who I kid around with a lot thought he had the perfect solution. He tied a metal washer to a fishing line to fire over a branch with a slingshot. The fishing line got caught or was not long enough and when the washer reached the end of its flight, it instantly sprung back with just as much velocity and struck my firiend directly in the forehead, leaving a mark of considerable size. But he was ok and this became a 'teachable event". You never want to try something like this for the first time with an audience of students and fellow instructors.
      Last edited by yknpdlr; 12-03-2018, 05:23 PM.
      "She's all my fancy painted her, she's lovely, she is light. She waltzes on the waves by day and rests with me at night." - Nessmuk, Forest and Stream, July 21, 1880 [of the Wood Drake Canoe built for him by Rushton]


        I have always used a small old worn out throw bag with 15 m of line in it.. Underhanded always but I have had the misfortune of hitting myself on the head because I failed to let go at the right time and it went up and came straight down.. Throw bags usually have foam to give it some mass.. you don't need much.. I would have killed myself with rocks!

        Which shows you that whatever you use for a weight it pays to practice at home.. perhaps with something like a high deck rail from 12 feet below


          Back when "we used to hang" I tossed a rock in a sock. Worked well, but I discovered why no-one volunteered one of their socks for such travails. My wool socks collected pine sap and twigs as easily as food bag air miles. Didn't take long to move on to ss carabiners as a throw weight. They were on hand anyway and only took a couple jangled on the end of a bow line. Rarely fouled or snagged. And everyone was sensible enough to give wide berth to any thrower. As much as it may look sensible to some to stand under the target branch it never ever looked sensible to me, so no-one was ever plinked by accident. I said by accident. But that's another story. I did try a full on ss pulley one trip. It was more fuss than it was worth. My favourite set up was a rope section strung between two trees with a (Alpine Butterfly) loop equidistance between the trees, the remaining rope length drawn down and tied off after it had been looped through that suspended loop holding a carabiner and down to the food. Sounds more complicated than it was. It just means the food was suspended well up and away from ground and tree trunks...and el cheapo Brad didn't have to use more than one really long rope. Pretty long. 80' or thereabouts. Geeze, now that I describe it I must've been obsessed fussy in those days. I haven't hung in ages. My fussiness has been concentrated on cleanliness of site and gear. There's no guarantee in this bear/rodent proofing but I am convinced cleanliness goes along with separation of food and living areas. We may not triangulate but we do quarantine our sleeping area from food at all times. Actually we stay clear of the thunderbox trail with any food and attractants too. (Our initial campsite scouting while our canoe lies tied up and waiting to be unloaded is to search for potential problems left by previous careless campers. Litter? Food scraps? Mindless vandalism? ) We only eat around the "kitchen" where the food prep goes on. Maybe sometimes I've located a twig or stove down near the water but I don't like to blur the boundaries so that's a rare thing. Sipping an adult hot cocoa sitting in the shallows? Sure. Eating a meal down there? No. That's the trippy hippy yoga studio chillzone. Not the canteen. My wife and I are all grown up so we know how to eat now without bibs. But I do get the reference to food contaminated clothing. I do take care about that. And this may be too much information but though we both still feel young at times we no longer feel inclined to play Twister in the little tent trying to change out of smelly old clothes. At our age it no longer looks sexy and trust me it sure doesn't feel it either. So any food spilled sweaty smokey garb gets shed standing on an empty pack well out in the open. This is no issue in August. In October it becomes a test of speed buttoning, zippering and willpower. It helps to keep us and our clothing fairly clean. I'm not talking about mud and dirt and sweat...but food. That clean thing again. Which leads me to food barrels. They're easier to keep clean and sealed, plain and simple. We've also cut down on messy food prep. Seldom raw meat (if so it goes straight from ziplock bag into the pan), and raw veg may only need a chop (onion). Mostly dehydrated these days. Clean up is easy and keeping everything clean is easy too. And we plan meal portions for no leftovers. All food is sealed double bagged ziplocked. One of the over large clean ziplocks is a trash bag. Burnables are burned tout suite along with anything too messy to pack out. I can usually see the barrel well away from camp but it is secured under fir branches and adorned with jangly carabiners. I have rarely left it in camp secured to a tree but I really don't mind that walk in the woods so it usually goes with me. Clean and organized is the best way to prevent things that go bump in the night IMO.
          Last edited by Odyssey; 12-03-2018, 10:06 PM.


            I prescribe to practices similar to those that Odyssey describes. If I do cook unprocessed food over a small fire I take care to work upwind of its smoke drift. This usually occurs on the first night out of a longer trip or if I'm adding caught fish to my lunch or dinner menu.

            I'm a bit OCD about keeping my clothes, tent and overall camp area clean. Planning ahead helps a lot toward this end.


              I don't hang my food because of small trees, etc. When I need a line to be up high for a tarp,my most successful method is:
              find a reasonably long stick with a branch sticking out near the end in a V;
              clear the stick of unnecessary branches, snubs, etc.;
              tie a weight to the end of the rope; place the end of the rope in the V of the stick with the weight just over the end of the V;
              run the rope along the stick keeping the weight snug against the V and hold the rope tightly;
              lift the stick up with the weight in the air;
              drop the weight over an appropriate branch;
              secure the rope around the trunk;
              repeat for the other end;
              pull the line taut and tie it off.
              I'm not sure how clear my explanation is but it works for me.


                A "proper" bear bag requires a horizontal, 15' high rope between 2 trees at least 20' apart with no limbs near the bag with your bag hung in the middle of the rope. My scout troop put up dozens of these in the adks. We prided ourselves in our hangs, and were complimented by rangers. With a full crew it often took over an hr to accomplish after finding 2 trees and branches that were suitable and small critters occasionally got into it. I had many frustrating experiences alone or with my son doing this. My ursack or canister is so much better.


                  Originally posted by Turtle View Post
                  A "proper" bear bag requires a horizontal, 15' high rope between 2 trees at least 20' apart with no limbs near the bag with your bag hung in the middle of the rope. My scout troop put up dozens of these in the adks. We prided ourselves in our hangs, and were complimented by rangers. With a full crew it often took over an hr to accomplish after finding 2 trees and branches that were suitable and small critters occasionally got into it. I had many frustrating experiences alone or with my son doing this. My ursack or canister is so much better.
                  There are many methods to hang. You do know that in the high peaks region, where canisters are mandatory, that the ursack or any soft bag type protectionis not a legal solution. Although it would protect from mini-critter problems.
                  Last edited by yknpdlr; 12-04-2018, 07:10 AM.
                  "She's all my fancy painted her, she's lovely, she is light. She waltzes on the waves by day and rests with me at night." - Nessmuk, Forest and Stream, July 21, 1880 [of the Wood Drake Canoe built for him by Rushton]


                    Where I go there are no trees with good limbs to hang from so my bag goes on a rope between 2 trees. My kit for a group where I will be hanging several peoples food bag. This will easily lift 100Lbs.


                      The reason for hanging : not because it works to deter critters but because it provides a degree of separation between you and your food should a critter be after your food.. It is actually banned in Yosemite NP. Perhaps others. After watching a bear enter a tent that was occupied and rip Doritos from the occupants hand and the hand and leave by a self made exit door I would never sleep with food in a tent.

                      So I just separate me from my food horizontally not vertically

                      In the ADK s canisters are not required unless hiking in the Eastern High Peaks. Most people even with light pack canoes don't hike ( though the thought of going to Avalanche lake via Marcy ex dam is appealing and would require canisters). Canisters are encouraged everywhere in the Adirondacks


                        A quicker way to hang besides the two-tree method can be to use just one tree with a long rope, maybe 100'. The ground and a tall tree form two sides of a right-angled triangle and the pack is tied onto the rope forming the triangle's third side. The rope is pulled tight, raising the pack off the ground to the right height and location, then the rope is tied off onto a smaller tree. Preferably tied off higher up so there's less chance of people or bears getting snagged while passing underneath.

                        ... (after this is done the rope/ground/tree no longer forms a triangle but never mind, this forms the fundamental theory and it should work, except when it doesn't and when it doesn't, you probably have a smart bear driven to the lunatic fringe by clueless campers leaving food out so the wilderness experience will suffer)... anyway...

                        Lifetime score for vermin while packs were hung..... zero packs destroyed.

                        Lifetime score for vermin while packs were foolishly left on the ground.... three packs damaged or destroyed.

                        PS... in Algonquin park, there are backcountry campsites now with steel cables strung between trees so packs can be hung easily. And COs are charging people for leaving food out that attracts bears and raccoons. They have to learn the hard way... the campers, not the wildlife.


                        Last edited by frozentripper; 12-04-2018, 10:18 AM.


                          We tried or thought about many methods to get the rope up over a limb or in a crotch where we wanted it besides our ineffective throwing.----All with small lines attached-- slingshot, fishing pole cast, a bow an arrow, atal atal,, David bible type sling, ect. a real trial in the rain or late after a hard day.


                            Does anyone here remember the bear hooks that were marketed 10-15 years ago? The link is now dead. They were metal hooks that could be hung over a branch with the help of a paddle. There was a DIY pattern available for a plywood 'hook'. I went as far as making a cardboard pattern which must have ended up on the island of misfit projects (I'm not a food hanger). The idea seemed intriguing, though.


                              I use throw lines all the time, not for hanging food, but for putting up tarps. I must say, that fella in the video is pretty skilled, but I worry about swinging a weight between my legs like that, looks like a recipe for a sacking. I have been bringing along a metal clamp thingy with lots of places to tie ropes, works good. Usually throw underhand too.