Amy, Sean, and Mitchell left yesterday. I drove Scott to the airport today. I thought about climbing on my way back but didn’t. I’m not sure why. It just didn’t seem like the right time. Later I left to go to Will’s to hang out with Sarah Kugele and others. On my way I stopped at the rest stop on I-71.
I had seen a very large tree off to the right so I had that in my sights.
I parked and walked through the pet walking area to the edge where the tree grows just before the slope down to the road.
It’s a massive tree. Luckily the first limbs are pretty low and I could reach up to grab a hold. I lifted up my legs, inched my hands up the limb, and hooked my right leg over. I righted myself and got to my feet. I began to move up from limb to limb as the trunk split off in many directions.
There was only one clear choice of a path to get to a high point. But it wasn’t direct. I went up one leader and made a difficult transfer to another one nearby. Then I moved down this to the main central leader. I climbed up a few limbs on this till I ran out of options. I chose to move out onto a large limb to attempt another transfer up and back in but it was too unsafe. I really wanted to get higher. But at this point the climb had already been a great rush and a good challenge. I definitely wasn’t going to feel disappointed about today’s climb. So I got into a comfortable stance to free my hands for ribbon tying and picture taking.
It was a grey day and started to get dark. I was a little shaky from the cold and the strenuous climb so my shots were often blurry. I looked below me and there were a few people walking their dog right underneath me.
I wondered if they noticed me. I was very high up and they looked pretty small. I took shots of the highway and the rest stop but nothing was too interesting.
Sometimes the photographs don’t represent the feeling of the climb. This was a great accomplishment with lackluster images.
But I didn’t care. It’s about the experience. When I was finished enjoying the view I prepared myself for the climb down. I knew, even with my new sliding technique some of these reverse transfers were going to be difficult. Possible but difficult. So I looked for an alternate way. I saw a possibility and just went for it, but as I hung by just my hands around a very large limb I realized I couldn’t reach the branch I was aiming for with my feet. I got a little panicked but I just pulled myself back up. That didn’t work, I thought. I just went back down the way I came. I changed the path slightly lower down but at that point I felt more willing to take risks since the hard transfers had been accomplished. It’s funny because I feel as if I am so close to the ground I can afford to not be as careful but in reality a fall from even this height could be very bad. I think my concept of height is changing. Especially how high I am willing to take risks. I even find myself taking more riskier moves higher up in trees because I trust my hands more. With experience my fear fades. My confidence increases and it creates more amazing experiences unclouded by my previous thoughts of falling and death. I left this tree pumped for the night. A damn good tree.
1-5-09: Happy New Year!!! This is the farthest behind in this blog I have ever been, and it does not feel good. I am going to do my best in the next couple of days to catch up. If you are a regular reader, first, thank you, but second, get ready for an onslaught of entries. You’llbe witnessing the last few entries of 2007 and 2008, and the end of Part 3 of the Daily Climb project. I have been at my Grandma’s without a decent internet connection but it was a nice break. I have kept up my daily tree climb and am now up to 641 days in a row. I can’t wait to share my pictures and experiences with you.
In a response to my 2007 entry, I think if I just took the time to master the manual functions on my camera I could get better pictures. But being in the tree I value the shoot-and-click ease and quickness of auto settings. I can’t be up in the tree forever so I need to capture images quickly. And sometimes I like to catch certain occurrences in a small window of opportunity. I have been looking into getting a new camera and have been weighing my options for type, ease-of-use, cost, variety of capabilities, and I wonder what a new camera would do to my tree climbing experience. Having a camera I know like the back of my hand is great because I don’t waste time fiddling with settings or searching for buttons if it’s dark. But the lens is nicked and dusty, I’d like more than 4 megapixels, and I’d definitely like to have a longer exposure time than the max 4 seconds mine has now. I am starting to ramble on electronic specifics so I’ll stop.
Being more than a week behind, I will now discuss my climb from 12-26-08, the day after Christmas. In the evening the weather turned warm… strangely and unseasonably warm. I stepped out my parents’ front door in the dark hoping to find a tree nearby. I braced myself for cold but it never came. The temperature was in the mid 60’s and I almost felt overdressed in my coat. I walked out to the street and took a left towards Cedar Point Road. But I didn’t get that far. I stopped just at the property line between my parents’ and our next door neighbor’s houses. I have helped Clint, an older, retired man who lives there, to plant grass, clean out gutters, and other such odd jobs and have scoped the place for possible trees for future climbs. I have already climbed two trees in his front yard (one on Thanksgiving in 2007, and the other a few weeks ago). I remember when we were planting grass seed that there was a collection of younger beech trees very close to the road. I walked up to them that Boxing Day evening and studied the three trees with what light emanated from the few yard lights. I chose the middle beech for its height and split trunk.
I couldn’t see much since it was so dark and the trees still retained their leaves. It’s a curious thing they haven’t fallen and I wondered if it was a certain type of beech where this is common. Knowing I couldn’t answer that I just got to climbing.
The climb was not too challenging but not just a quick romp to the top. The branches were often small and spread apart far enough that I had to use both trunks to work my way up. As I went the small twigs and leaves kept snagging on my clothes. Despite the snags I made it up very near the top about 30 to 40 feet up.
I took pictures mostly with my flash due to the lack of any moonlight or artificial light.
I did try to capture the scattered lights of the houses on the street. The wind was not strong but blowing and made this difficult.
This is Clint’s house from the front.
This was looking across the street.
This was what I could see of my parents’ house.
But I was extremely happy to be warm. Instead of turning off my camera and rushing down I decided to stay up a while and enjoy this rare treat. As I sat there I pulled out my phone and called Leigh Ann. I wished her a happy holidays and invited her to a dinner party for the following night. As I often do, I enjoy connecting with friends while in the top of a tree. If you have talked to me both while I am in a tree and on the ground do you see a difference in my mood or tone? Just being so happy in a tree I feel I have very up-beat and good conversations while in one. Otherwise I am told I sound sleepy and monotone when I speak from the ground. Let me know what you think.
After I hung up I climbed down and actually started to get hot. I loved it. I walked slowly down the street to the house taking time to look around and enjoy my surroundings and this weather before heading inside for the night.