DAY 210

DAY 210
10.31.07
TREE 134

Last day at the Mary Anderson Center.  I woke up and looked up out the window and saw a crescent moon in a dark blue morning sky.  A beautiful view… I am going to miss it.  I got up and dressed and figured I should climb before I do all my packing, loading, and saying goodbyes.  So I thought about where to climb.  I definitely wanted it to be at the Mount.  I thoughtback to that first day when I climbed my first tree then walked around the sanctuary.  I had found this huge fallen beech that leans against another.  It is like a big ramp, so incredible but just a little too steep for comfort.  But today, I figured I should really give it a shot.  So I headed out the door, went by the Hermitage, then over the wash-over and berm, and up the path to the tree.  The sun was just about to rise over the distant trees.  I stepped up onto the trunk. 

The footholds were slippery as were handholds but I made progress crawling up until a bend in the trunk made it steeper.  I lay on my stomach and began inching upwards.  A long gash in the trunk made for a decent grip with my right hand but every other part of my body just squeezed. 

I lifted my knees, squeezed, then like a caterpillar I rolled my upper body forward.  I continued like this till the bend changed and the trunk was not as steep anymore. 

I rested my tired legs. 

A small, young tree top was at level with me and I grabbed one of its limbs.  I looked to see if I could pull it towards me to climb down it.  No way!  Too small.  So I pulled out my camera and took a bunch of shots. 

Then I slid down on my stomach in reverse.  It was a little uncomfortable and bumpy, but fun.  Then on the ground it hit me; the climbing is done and now I have to pack up and move on.  It is hard to be sad after such a great climb in a beautiful morning. 

11-2-08:  After the Halloween weekend I am behind once again.  Sunday is often a blog catch-up day. 

That fallen tree a the Mount is a tree I saw and daydreamed about often in those seven months I was there.  Ideally I wanted to climb all the way to its branches and into the other tree that it leans against.  I obviously didn’t get there because just stopping halfway up the trunk put me about 35 feet up.  Any slip would have caused a disastrous fall.  Sometimes my fear gets to me, and sometimes I am glad it does. 

I went to my parents on Thursday to do laundry and get some items for my Halloween costume.  (Which I will get to in the next blog entry.)  Right before I left I went out to the front yard and found a tree I have not climbed yet.  I am still amazed that I find new trees there to climb.  I haven’t counted but it easily over 20 in just their 1 acre yard.  I really wanted to stay on the property, and specifically in this one spot out front because the leaves are just so pretty right now.

The tree I found is a Sassafras.  It has a shimmy-able trunk but there was a young maple right next to it that went right to the first branch.  So I took that instead… I always like to do as many trees in a climb as I can.

When I got up onto the first branch of the Sassafras tree I realized I had never climbed one before.  Maybe in the winter when all the leaves were gone and I just didn’t know, but perhaps it was a first.  I looked up for the next limb and it was pretty far up.  I had to shimmy to get there.

As I was shimmying I noticed a little hole in the trunk.  I thought, man, this tree is hollow.  I hope it is strong enough to hold me up.

One I reached the second branch I saw some more holes and prepared myself for another trunk shimmy to the next limb.  These branches were really few and spread far apart. 

I reached the part of the tree where the trunk splits into a Y and I got to my feet to take pictures. 

There were more holes, and broken ends of branches from the wind storm. 

One branch broke off the very top and got stuck in another tree.

This entire tree was hollow all the way through the trunk and all its branches.  It started to make me nervous.  No wonder all these branches broke off in the wind, there is only the outer few layers holding it together.  I didn’t feel that unsafe, though, since the wind wasn’t blowing and I wasn’t climbing out on the limbs.  I took my time to be careful and took a lot of pictures of the fall colors and other views around me.

I got back onto the trunk and slid down to the second branch.  Then I slid down to the first.  I considered sliding the rest of the way to the ground, but that young maple called to me.  I transferred back into it and climbed the rest of the way down.  I looked up from the ground at all the colors and the trees and I surprised myself once again.  I climbed another tree I never thought I could have climbed just months earlier.  It’s nice to know I continue to improve and get stronger. 


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