Climbing Trees

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I used to climb trees all the time.  Like, all the time.  Most of the summer when I was in elementary school, I’d be up in some tree a large part of the day.

All my friends climbed trees.  Sometimes at night, we’d all just climb up in a tree and talk.  There would be 5-10 kids sitting on different levels, just messing around and talking.

I knew all the trees in my neighborhood.  I could get from the ground to the top in a flash.

I fell out of a few trees too.  I started early, falling out of a huge Cottonwood tree in my front yard, when I was 6.  I ruptured my spleen and had to have emergency surgery to have it removed.  When I was 12, I fell out of the top of another tree in my yard.  At old rope that we had a pulley on broke and I fell.  I shattered my heel then and had to wear a cast for 3 months.

The biggest fall I had was one day when I was staying home from school when I was sick.  I was probably 10.  I went outside, when my mom was doing something else and climbed to the very top of a big Maple tree in our yard.  I was above the top pitch of the roof of our house, which was two stories, then an attic.

The branches at the top of the tree are all small, mostly new.  That means they aren’t very strong.  A small branch broke under my foot and I didn’t have a good hold, so I fell.  I knew I was jacked.  I fell the whole height of the tree and, luckily for me, landed on my back on a big branch 10 feet from the ground.  This pretty much stopped all my speed before I hit the ground.

I remember jumping up, scared my mom had seen me fall.  I was amazed I didn’t break anything or get hurt.  It was my biggest fall, but by pure luck, I was fine.  It was probably a 40 foot fall.

I don’t see kids every climbing trees anymore.  The last time I saw a kid in a tree was in Lake GeneavaGeneva, Wisconsin, probably 6 years ago.  He was outside a Starbucks and looked just like I did when I was a kid.  Sinewy, with ribs protruding everywhere.  (Bromont would be a good tree climber if he was a human.)  I don’t see many of those kids around much.

I don’t climb trees much either.  I haven’t climbed a tree since I had shoulder surgery two years ago.  It is amazing how different the planet looks from a tree.  And how many different sounds you hear while sitting high upon a limb.  You can hear the wind, not just feel it.  Climbing trees is good for your mind.  It is freeing, uplifting, plus connects you to nature.

As adults, most think that climbing trees is for kids.  I think too many adults restrict their experiences because of imaginary lines they draw for themselves.

I think I need to rectify my absence of tree climbing.  It will be good for my soul.

I happen to have a couple good climbing trees in my front yard.  My grandmother planted these Oaks back in 1964.  They grew up pretty good.

I happen to have a couple good climbing trees in my front yard. My grandmother planted these Oaks back in 1964. They grew up pretty good.

23 thoughts on “Climbing Trees

  1. Noel

    I think too many adults draw the tree climbing line and the bike riding line pretty close together.

     
  2. LD

    I found your blog because of your cycling history but I read it daily because of stories like this.

     
  3. Jason

    These “imaginary” lines are also drawn because your bones are made of rubber when you are a kid and over time, they become like they are made of glass. I don’t want to grow up either, but I don’t ignore the reality of my mortality.

     
  4. Bill K

    About 7 or 8 years ago, I had to remove a dying 25-30 foot crab apple tree. I’m too cheap to hire someone, so I did it myself. You are right about it being a rush, being higher than your house.
    It was probably pretty stupid, but I never tied myself off with a safety line while I was working on the tree.

     
  5. Bob

    I had woods behind my house and used to spend countless hours in the trees also.
    I have a vivid memory of being about 11 years old sitting high up in a tree with a neighborhood girl, with the sky getting dark, looking like rain, and the wind kicking up swaying the branches. We were sitting on a couple of pieces of scrap 2×4 ‘s I had nailed up there. I was awkwardly just leaning in for the first kiss of my life, our noses just about touching, when her mother opened their back door and screamed for her to “get in the house this minute!”
    Sweet memory.

     
  6. Franz

    My daughters like to climb tress. They really like to climb the tree in our front yard. The youngest one likes to sit in the tree 30 feet up and eat snacks and read books. I went up it the other day to remove some dead branches and found a bag of candy she left up there. The only rule I have implemented for them is they have to climb it themselves. I won’t help them reach to higher ground.

     
  7. Franz

    My daughters like to climb tress. They really like to climb the tree in our front yard. The youngest one likes to sit in the tree 30 feet up and eat snacks and read books. I went up it the other day to remove some dead branches and found a bag of candy she left up there. The only rule I have implemented for them is they have to climb it themselves. I won’t help them reach higher ground.

     
  8. Robert E

    Those look like a couple of big pin oaks. Man those trees get huge! They are good for climbing too. Just get up to the first branch and you will be on your way:)

     
  9. Rich

    Great post Steve. I remember being a champion tree climber when I was a youngster. I would climb as far as the branches would take me and look out over my neighborhood. Now at 60 I stay grounded 🙂

     
  10. Paul Boudreaux

    “I think too many adults restrict their experiences because of imaginary lines they draw for themselves”. What a classic line. Steve, if you don’t know who Ayrton Senna is you should really check him out. This little 15 minute tribute about him that aired on “Top Gear” pretty much sums him up. I am pretty sure you would absolutely dig what he was all about as a racer and a person.

    Most consider him the greatest race car driver that every lived and he had the ability transcend limits. You can also check out a documentary movie about him called “Senna” that is awesome and inspiring especially for a racer like yourself.

     
  11. Emil

    John Muir had some great tree climbing stories, he used to like to climb them and listen to them “sing”.

     
  12. Steve R

    Steve, you need to use your carpentry and mechanic skills to build an epic treehouse in one of those oak trees!!

     
  13. Jay

    I think kids still climb today, but in the climbing gym environment. I wish they had them when I was young.

     
  14. Joe

    Reading this post reminds me a lot of my 13 year old son. I found him and his friend in a tree, above the 2 story roof line, in a yard chair. I almost died. He climbs everything and loves to ride. I think the the sense of adventure just carries over into all aspects of life.
    But I agree, as adults we need to find our childhood a little more often. Mine is found most of the time on 2 wheels.
    On another note; My son is very passionate about cycling and very good at it. As a young child he would sit with me and watch Lance in the Tour. It broke his heart when he learned that he cheated and now the name is hardly if ever spoken in the house.
    What advise would you give to a parent and young rider that may want to pursue this sport competitively either Collegiately or even professionally?
    Thanks

     
  15. JR

    I used to climb trees all of the time as kid too. My rule for how high to go: keep going until a small branch breaks. Then find a comfortable spot at that height and soak in your accomplishment, the view, and life!

     
  16. Chris

    Thought you would like this video. Professional rock climber Chris Sharma climbs a Giant Redwood under the guidance of forest biologists.

     

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