I said I was looking for a scary challenge in my last entry… and I got one. The first time I climbed this big old tree off the Mount St. Francis drive I was in a rush to get to the clay class on time. I didn’t get very high and I was disappointed. Well, this time I had nothing to rush to. But it had rained and the old mossy bark was incredibly slippery. Even just getting up on the the first low branch was a little difficult and it got my shorts very dirty.
The next couple of steps upward weren’t too challenging but I had to go really slow and wedge my foot in their holds. I worked my way around the large trunk o the few branches I had to work with.
For a lot of moves I had to grab onto one limb with both hands and lift my body up into a ball just to get my foot to reach a decent hold. I got up to my ribbon which was also dirty.
I pulled it off and looked upward.
Though I was very scared I continued because I have ingrained that response in my head: if I can, I will go higher. It has always been worthwhile to do so. I think I got up ten feet higher but not to the top. I pulled out my camera and realized that at some point during this dangerous climb where I have used all parts of my body to increase contact with the tree, the ON button get pushed and my battery was depleted. I got out my cell phone instead and snapped some shots.
I grabbed a leaf then readied myself to climb down. And that was even scarier. When I’m standing on a limb and I have to crouch down, grab it with my hands and then rotate my body so that my feet then dangle off to reach for the net lower branch, it is a leap of faith. Faith in that knowledge that I got up, so I can get down. But at one branch, pretty high, my feet were dangling and slipping on the trunk and finding nothing. If I had stayed there hanging too long I’d have worn out my arms, so I pulled my legs back up. I looked down and saw the one option I had and went for it. I made it without even a slip. Scary and great.
9-29-08: The images above that are not from the cell phone (you can tell because they don’t have a black border) are from the following day. That is why they may appear not to be wet and slippery looking. I think since the 2007 summer was so dry I had not adjusted to wet climbing very well. But as the fall and winter came and more rain with it, I got much better and more comfortable with climbing in those conditions. It is still a more difficult climb when it’s wet but it doesn’t scare me like it used to.
Before I headed to the McChesney’s on Friday afternoon to pick up the Suburban for my shuttle driving job, I stopped at Cherokee Park to climb a tree. I was driving slow because it was my first view of the tree damage in the park since the Ike storm came through. They lost a lot of trees and branches. When I got to Dog Hill I saw that TREE 67 from DAY 61 and DAY 153, the beech with the scarred trunk, had fallen.
DAY 61 DAY 153
I parked immediately and walked over. Half of the tree was still standing while the other half, the half that I had climbed both times, was on the ground.
Like the many others who had climbed this tree and made thier mark I had done so as well. Only I did it way up in the top of the tree. I figured that no one would ever see the initials unless the tree fell. Well, now it has fallen and I was determined to look for my engraving among the horizontal limbs.
I walked and crawled all over these branches, maticulously checking each branch where the thickness looked right.
Then I saw a scratch that caught my eye.
I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to find it, but I did. I cralwed down into the limbs and got a better shot.
I thought it would be cool if I had my saw and cut the section out to save it. But I went to my truck later and I must have taken it out. It was a kind of sad moment. This great tree is now half what it used to be. The fun and challenging climb is no more. I sat a little while and thought about it.
Then I got back up and walked off the tree. I found another beech nearby that I have yet to climb. It looked so inviting and I was not satisfied with just crawling on a fallen tree for today’s climb. Up I went. For such a large tree it was a pretty easy climb. I got up very high and looked down. There, in the fallen tree, were 4 little kids crawling on its branches like I had just done.
It was good to see a mom watching and letting her kids play on the fallen tree. They really looked like they were enjoying it. And I was really enjoying my climb. I am also glad the mom didn’t see the strange guy in the nearby tree taking pictures of her children.