Summer in the city: Invasion of the teenage tree people

Summertime and the livin’ is easy in South Minneapolis, where many of the teens have been practicing the fine art of hammocking – or ‘mocking, as the kids say – since early spring. At all times of day and night, bat kids in their portable vinyl caves can be seen hanging amid the tall pines of Lake Harriet’s Rose and Peace Gardens, among other favorite hangs.

“Hang.” That, along with “chill” and “relax,” is the word used most by the ‘mockers to describe their attraction to the non-activity of whiling away hours in the trees, talking with their friends, and listening to music, the birds, water fountains, and rain. Because of easy bike access to a multitude of nearby lakes, creeks, and the Mississippi River, Minneapolis is particularly fertile ground for a full-on ‘mocking craze, and right on cue, area sporting goods stores tell Minnpost they can’t keep hammocks in stock this summer.

While campers and college campuses have been into ‘mocking since at least 2009, and the occasional hipster or hippie hammock encampment has dotted the Rose Gardens’ mini-forests over the years, the high schoolers and middle schoolers of South Minneapolis have taken to it with a collective zeal that’s growing weekly, and sure to prove inspiring to urban adventurers of all ages.

Call it One Afternoon in the Summer of the Teenage Tree People, in words and photos:

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Isaiah Williams, Rachel Dering, Chloe Feddersen, Vaughn Hill (foreground), Minneapolis. “It’s just gotten really popular,” said Dering. “It’s private, and it’s pretty, and it’s really easy to get to because it’s by my house. And this is good because the trees are really close together.” “It’s separate; it’s like what people do when they don’t have a house to hang out in. You just come and chill,” said Williams. “Pretty much everyone I know does this,” said Hill. “When people want to do something but they don’t know what they want to do, you can kind of just hang out and say you’re doing something, I guess. I’ve got my bike and my backpack and my hammock and I’m good.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Tess Lynville and Paulina Delmont, Minneapolis. “I like being with my friends and hanging in trees is cool, and you can swing and listen to music and it’s just really fun,” said Lynville. “It’s good to be with your friends in a circle, because you can all see each other and we’re not always on our phones all the time. Sometimes when you come to the Rose Gardens, there’s just hammocks on every tree, and it’s so cool to see. I like to do it at Lake Nokomis, and Lake Calhoun, too.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Skylar Tupper and Hannah Oscarson, Minneapolis. “You can sleep in them, which is really awesome, and you can do it alone sometimes, too,” said Oscarson. “There’s something really nice about hanging from a tree that’s really comfortable,” said Tupper. “I started doing it a lot last summer, biking to various locations. I like Lake of the Isles a lot, and I’ve done it under a bridge hanging over the river. That was a fun one. I don’t know about other places, but when I tell friends from the suburbs that we go hammocking a lot, they say, ‘Oh, that’s really weird.’ So I think it’s more of a city thing.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Andrew Nystrom, Minneapolis. “I got my hammock at the beginning of summer, and I do it because it’s really relaxing. Kind of following the trend a little bit; a lot of my friends have ’em. We think it’s pretty cool. It’s fun to try and find new places to set ’em up. Like, I found a sick place in my backyard last weekend. My friends and I go to Pearl Park a lot; there’s a little square with nice trees there. Down the road here there’s some good trees, and underneath the Bryant walking bridge, a lot of kids go under that. That’s really fun.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Jim Biltz and Andy Frame, Minneapolis. “All our friends do this. This is our favorite spot,” said Frame.

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Elizabeth Nieves and Olivia Fischer, Minneapolis. “We just started this year. It’s something different. Instead of hanging out at someone’s house, you can hang in the trees,” said Fischer.

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Eric McCabe, Minneapolis. “I’ve been hammocking for a month or two. It’s really fun, because you just set it up and then you feel like you’re just floating in the air. It kind of gives you a sense of thinking, ‘Wow, these trees are here.’ You don’t really notice ’em, but when you hammock, you do.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Hanna Garzon, Minneapolis. “We try to hammock once or twice a week. The city is so loud, and when you come and hammock, it’s so peaceful and quiet and you really get to enjoy nature.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Simon Richards (top right), Markie Bayer (in white shirt, front), William Sanders (center, in black shirt) and crew. “It’s chill vibes here, and a good place to come to be one with nature. It’s good to be so high,” said Richards. “It’s like an activity, but we’re not doing anything,” said Bayer. “At first I saw people doing it by the lake, and I wondered what that was, but now it’s just go with the flow,” said Sanders. “Like, if my friend gets one, I’m gonna try and get one. If I see him on a ‘mock, I want a ‘mock, and someone sees me with a ‘mock, they want a ‘mock. It’s a great wave in the city. We’re teenagers. Instead of rotting our brains inside, we’re outside. Chill vibe.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Stella Jass, Max Johanns, Sarah Simons, Minneapolis. “It’s nice to do at the end of a long day. Like, I ice skate every day, so it’s really tiring and this is really relaxing,” said Jass. “It’s kind of like self-medication, I guess. It’s a good way to meditate, internally,” said Johanns. “It’s good bonding time and it’s super cool when people stack their hammocks on top of each other and when you’re at the top,” said Simons.

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Charlie Becker, Edina. “I’ve been doing this for about a year and a half. It’s a nice invention. It’s portable. I’ve camped in the Boundary Waters in this, and slept outside in it for four days. This is just an exceptional tree. There’s not many trees you can do this in.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Emily McNaughton and Abby Oscarson, Minneapolis. “It’s comfortable and relaxing and a good place to meet your friends and you can just go wherever you want,” said McNaughton. “There are trees everywhere, so you can be wherever you want,” said Oscarson.

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Carter Konz on 07/02/2015 - 11:42 am.

    Spirit of Minneapolis Youth

    Awesome piece, Jim. I too was caught by the hammock craze. One of the things I miss most about Minneapolis. Like the kids in the first photo said, perfect when all your friends live in parents houses and nobody wants to have anyone over. The hangout basement I spent my summers in was overtaken by a sibling who moved back home, forcing our gang to relocate. Six or seven of us picked up basic setups (all in different colors of course) and found a tree that hung all of us at once. It felt like buying an apartment. Really captured the spirit of the neighborhood kids with this! Loved reading and seeing familiar faces in the photos. Great work.

  2. Submitted by Mary Lilja on 07/02/2015 - 03:14 pm.

    I love this story and photos

    Great story, Jim — well told in both text and photos! Kids hanging out in trees in parks — it doesn’t get any better than this.

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