Going up in the world

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.

Tree climbing
This is a blake hitch…it can go up or down, but when there’s weight on it, it won’t move. Not to be confused with a “suislide”. This is an important knot!

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).

Tree climbing
Monkey fist! This is how we get ropes over branches
Tree climbing
Tree climbing
I learned that trees with rough bark are hell on your hands…
Tree climbing
I like it here
Tree climbing
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…
Tree climbing
You can’t tell but I’m fifty feet high here
Tree climbing
My harness got pretty heavy by the end of the tree* days
Tree climbing
Small trees were easier for me to master by myself
Tree climbing
Hanging from my lanyard
Tree climbing
This is a very well-climbed sugar maple…the ropes rubbing on the branches left them smooth as marble.
Tree climbing
My friend Jay, just hanging out
Tree climbing
I’m just hanging out too
Tree climbing
A triple fisherman’s is a fundamental part of a split tail system
Tree climbing
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.
Tree climbing

You should have seen the colors of my bruises though!

*It’s a pun!


15 thoughts on “Going up in the world

  1. So great, so much learning. ‘A well-climbed sugar maple ‘ has to be the funniest part for sure . I like climbing trees, haven’t done it in ages, but will now tomorrow because you inspired me too, cheers and happy tree climbs

  2. Pingback: An egg-ceptionally difficult photo | standingoutinmyfield

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