Wow! Today’s climb is easily one of the most memorable, crazy, and scary climbs, but at the same time exciting… just really incredible. I left home about one thirty and headed to J-town to go to Natalie’s house. I called her last night to make arrangements for my visit. When I got there she invited me inside and we talked for a little while before going out to her backyard so I could reclimb the tree I climbed here in New Years Eve. It was nice today with sunshine and blue skies. Natalie showed me the damage to her storage shed that a raccoon had done. She complained that she can hear them on the roof of her house.
Then, when I looked up at my tree to find the pink ribbon, in the crook of where three limbs branch off was a sleeping raccoon.
He was right in the path to my ribbon. Natalie joined me over the fence and we collected some golf balls from the empty, swampy lot. We then tried to hit the raccoon with these balls to wake him up and get him out of my way. But there were too many limbs in the way and our aim was not too good. I climbed up a few branches to get closer but again failed to make any contact with balls or sticks. And I didn’t get any movement from slapping the trunk and yelling at the raccoon.
He was in a deep slumber.
I climbed back down and Natalie and I climbed back over the fence into her yard. I was ready to give up. I threw a couple rocks but came up with the same results. We went back inside and I just felt frustrated. I drove out all this way and the one tree I needed to climb had a raccoon in it. What are the chances? Should I wait or come back later? Or should I just come back another day? I didn’t want to do any of those. I was there and I wanted to climb that tree right then. I looked at the tree…was there another path to the ribbon? I wondered. Could I bypass the sleeping raccoon? I went back outside for a closer look. There was one possibility. One large side branch curved out and up high enough that I just might be able to lean over and grab my ribbon. I had to try. Natalie asked which hospital I wanted to be taken to. I told her, if the raccoon attacks, I’ll just fight back. I am so much bigger and stronger than him.
I crossed back over the fence, and as quiet and stealthily as I could, began to climb up the tree again. Natalie got a chair from her porch and sat in the middle of her backyard to watch.
I made my way up to where that side limb branches off from the trunk. My body faced away from the raccoon which was about seven or eight feet from me. As I maneuvered my body so as to return to me feet Natalie exclaimed, "He’s moving! He’s moved! Get down!"
I froze in place, afraid to look back at the raccoon. I put my finger up to silence Natalie. I didn’t want her to provoke him. I slowly turned and saw that he had begun to climb higher up the tree. I rotated my body to face him. He climbed up to my ribbon then just past it.
It was amazing. He was scared of me! I got out my camera and just started shooting. Every so often he would inch a little higher.
I climbed slightly higher as well and he looked at me! Those dark, black, beady eyes. He looked so frightened.
I took out my camera once again and shot more. This climb was just so amazing, but was I done? I hadn’t ripped off the ribbon and I was so close. I definitely couldn’t reach it from this limb. My only option was to climb back down to the main trunk and up right to the ribbon. Right below this scared, cornered raccoon. I discussed this option with Natalie. She advised against it. His claws are very sharp. Again, I asked Natalie if I should do it. She said, "sure, if you’re crazy."
That was all I needed. I would be crazy. That’s fine. I told her I was doing it and she couldn’t believe it. I climbed down, then as quiet as I could, I inched up towards my ribbon and the raccoon. I stared at him and he at me. As I inched, so did he. Hanging on for dear life on the little tip of the branch.
I stepped up one more limb and I grabbed my ribbon and shoved it in my mouth.
Then, without pause, I began to race down the tree. Once half way down I realized the raccoon wasn’t following me. I did it! I took my time the rest of the way down and then I was on the ground. Unbelievable!
3-31-09: Natalie told me later that the raccoon stayed up at the top of the tree for hours. I really scared the little guy. I wonder if she had any more raccoon problems after that? I am also glad that I didn’t end up hitting the raccoon with one of the golf balls or rocks. I was able to get my ribbon without hurting him or myself. This climb ranks up there in the top 3.
March 29th 2009. Sunday. Another night on the floor with my fellow LPK traceurs in a strange house in West Lafayette, Indiana. We rose early and slowly. We were sore and stiff from the day before. The morning outside looked cold and grey. The weather reports said the rain and snow was coming. But we were here and we figured we’d just go for it. We drove to campus and went back to the big sprawling tree at the Memorial Mall. There was one guy sitting on a branch. We walked up thinking he was another traceur waiting. Turns out he was just waiting to be picked up. I imagine he thought our friendliness was strange. Eventually Raven and a few other Purdue freerunners showed up. The rain was starting and it was getting colder. We decided we would try to find a spot indoors.
We started to walk around campus towards the athletic buildings. When we got there they were all locked and the snow started to fall. We were getting soaked and increasingly defeated. We headed to the engineering building to do some conditioning indoors when Captain Bruce called me. Him and Christian were at the garage and ready to meet-up and get started. We thanked Raven and went towards the garage. The conditions got so bad we decided to just get a couple of group shots at the tree then find one last spot we knew was covered.
We all climbed onto the big tree and got a passerby to take our picture. The tree was wet and slippery and I struggled up a long drooping limb.
(from left to right: Dick, Tim, Luke, Cpt Bruce, me, Math, Christian, Henk, Mark)
The shot was taken and then I slid back down. It was to be my climb for the day.
We went to the covered spot and it had become a focused wind tunnel. The frigid gusts pummelled us and we called it quits. The day had defeated our spirit for physical activity and we resigned to going to Triple XXX Root Beer for a late breakfast.
Ready to leave and get home to warm up and take a shower I tried to help by unlocking Mark’s car doors. Only I accidentally locked them instead and he had the keys in the ignition warming the car up. I had locked us out. We called AAA and 45 minutes later he was there to pop the lock and we went on our way. What a trip.