Tree Climbing

To climb a tree is for a child to discover a new world.

~Friedrich Frobel, 1826

It has been a very busy couple of weeks so you may have noticed my posts have been a bit slow in coming. Last weekend we finished celebrating our birthdays with a different sort of birthday surprise…a  private tree climb with Patrick of Piedmont Tree Climbing.

the climbing tre Wille

Our tree, Willie, at Blackwood Farm Park in Orange County (click photos to enlarge)

I had wanted to do this a few months ago at a public tree climbing he hosted at the NC Botanical Garden, but it quickly filled up before I could get us registered, so I have had it in the back of my mind as a different type of gift ever since. Melissa loves tree houses and other things “tree”, so I thought this would be fun. The day was beautiful and we headed over to Blackwood Farm Park to climb a huge willow oak known as Willie. According to Patrick’s web site, Willie is estimated to be over 100 years old with a height of 85 feet and a crown spread of about 82 feet. The trunk is massive with a circumference of a little over 11 feet. Willie’s huge branches reach out across a clearing near an old homestead surrounded by forests and fields.

getting ready

Getting ready

Patrick is an easy-going instructor and quickly helped us get geared up and ready to climb.

looking up the tree

Melissa zooming up into the canopy

Moving up the tree is relatively easy thanks to some “magic” knots, a somewhat comfortable harness, and your own leg power. There are several ropes to climb that take you into different parts of the tree and provide some different challenges. I admit to it taking me a few times before I figured out how to best grasp the rope to avoid knocking my knuckles every time on the knots, but it really is pretty straightforward.

melissa-walking-on-limb

Part of the fun for Melissa was walking in Willie’s “arms”

You can go at your own pace, rest, hang out or walk out on a limb, or head over to one of two resting spots…

looking down

The air chair (upper left) and hammock (lower right)

After climbing the rope to the highest part of the tree, I came down and went over to the rope to the hammock and chilled for a bit. The views are beautiful, and it certainly is a different perspective on the outdoor world.

the view

View from the canopy

While up there I took some time looking at lichens, leaves, and some of the numerous ants crawling on the branches more than 60 feet up in the air. It really makes me want to know more about the life in the treetops, especially in the huge woods back home.

As we wrapped up the session, I asked Patrick about the next group I saw gathering, a children’s birthday party. He said children are great climbers, are fearless, and they have so much less wight to have to pull up…I’m sure he didn’t mean anything by that. No matter, I look forward to another outing in the trees and can definitely recommend it as a way to gain some new appreciation for the sentinels of our forests.

 

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