Last week I gave myself a raise! A few hundred times! Haha, actually, last week I learned to climb into trees. On the first day, I entered a room full of gruff arborists and thought, oh boy here goes…
You see, my motivations for climbing into trees were a little different from the rest of the class’s. I want to climb into tree canopies because I want to know how bees are using tree pollen, especially early in spring, and what component of their diet this represents. Very little is known about bees in canopies, mostly because they’re so hard to access.
But I’ve been bitten by a climbing bug, especially after reading Margaret Lowman’s “Into the Treetops” and Richard Preston’s “The Wild Trees.” What’s up there? How do we find out?
I don’t have any funding to answer these questions yet, but my adviser was kind enough to let me take a three-day intro course…and what a course it was! I expected some time in the classroom, learning about safety and knots, but the instructor showed us the blake hitch (a knot upon which our lives would depend), and sent us up into the trees at 7:30 am on the first day. Then we climbed eight hours a day for three days in a row. I had some beautiful bruises and blisters to show for it.
And… lots and lots of crappy cell phone photos (didn’t really want to take my camera into the treetops, although I did for some very special photos…which I will share soon).
Monkey fist! This is how we get ropes over branches
I learned that trees with rough bark are hell on your hands…
I like it here
My favourite thing was rigging two systems in the tree…you can go up or down on either one and they’re actually just the two different ends of the same rope! I think the way to make an entrance would be to drop down on two systems simultaneously…
You can’t tell but I’m fifty feet high here
My harness got pretty heavy by the end of the tree* days
Small trees were easier for me to master by myself
Hanging from my lanyard
This is a very well-climbed sugar maple…the ropes rubbing on the branches left them smooth as marble.
My friend Jay, just hanging out
I’m just hanging out too
A triple fisherman’s is a fundamental part of a split tail system
Making a knot in the tree haha…actually I came down through that fork! It’s way harder than it looks let me tell you. I somehow managed to tie myself upside down with one arm and one leg behind my head. Of course, eight guys were standing below, watching and smoking cigarettes. My friend Jay had to limb walk out and offer me a hand to help me out of it.
You should have seen the colors of my bruises though!
*It’s a pun!