Tag Archives: Washington

165 feet to bed: Tree lessons for Everyman

Some of my friends and family think I am nuts because I climb trees. Bonkers. Lost in the proverbial woods. At work I get shrugs, the telltale sign that the topic of tree climbing doesn’t matter to a lot of people. I beg to differ. I think tree climbing has a lesson for everyman, whether you climb trees or not. Well, I have canopy blog, and the burden is on me to defend why climbing and trees matter. The best metaphor I can think of is going to bed in a treeboat.

Sleeping in a treeboat: all harnessed up and ready for bed.
Sleeping in a treeboat: all harnessed up and ready for bed.

If there is one word that captures climbing big trees it is “deliberate,” and nothing epitomizes this better than treeboating. When climbing big trees you take nothing for granted. There is no room for error because one mistake could mean death, and death is the one mistake with no recovery. Every action has to be planned and reconsidered before being taken. You take only what you need and nothing more, and you take everything that you need and nothing less.

Me, I like to relax before bed. Take a shower, have a bowl of ice cream, and chill until I’m drowsy. But when bed is hanging 165 feet high in a tree it’s a different story. Imagine climbing 165 feet on a rope that is the diameter of a dime. Every single muscle is on and every neuron firing. You have to trust your gear and your skill, or else you are completely, totally forsaken. And when you are up in that glorious tree, you are surrounded by life.

165 feet to bed.
165 feet to bed.

In other words, climb a big tree and you are alive. When bed is a treeboat you are 100% dedicated to living life fully and totally. It is the opposite of most everything else in our daily lives. Who relishes driving to work as the high point of a day? You are passive and it is dead time, something to get through because of what is on the other end. The word we use for watching TV is “vegetating” because you don’t participate, you let it happen to you. Climb a big tree and you are taking life to the bank. You own it! When in our lives are we most engaged and happy? Usually on vacation, because we take charge of what we do and when we do it, and we live large. Why are adventure vacations like zip-lining and mountain biking so popular? Because of the thrill we get from living. That is the essence of tree climbing and treeboating: own life, be thrilled, take charge, live large.

Dang.  It's a long way to the bathroom.
Dang. It’s a long way to the bathroom.

Therein lies the message for Everyman. Trees bring us life, whether we climb them, just look at them, or breathe the air they make for us. Tree climbing is fun and delivers us to living. You don’t even have to climb a tree to participate, just visit this blog and enjoy. Thanks.

This post is dedicated to my climbing brothers and sisters: Jamz, Brian, Will, Scott, Damien, Aaron, Augie, Jason, Julian, Luke, Kt, Soman, and many more.

Jamz Luce suspended between two ancient Sitka spruce.  He is 100% dedicated to living large.
Jamz Luce suspended between two ancient Sitka spruce. He is 100% dedicated to living large.

Treeboat – Where Dreams Take Flight

I have always wanted to fly. If I were ever granted by divine gift the superpower of my choice, I would choose flight. Let me soar over the forests, give tail-chase to the birds, hover at every sunset, and heaven would have me wrapped in wings. Most of my best dreams have taken me flying. One day I am fidgeting with a mundane object like an umbrella and by total accident I discover the secret move needed for it to fly. Or else I am running pell-mell down a steep and incredibly high hill when my feet catch in the grass, and falling forward I open my arms only to suddenly swoop into the sky, forever released into my fantasy.

Only in my dreams.

Until now. I found that mundane object that lets me fly, and if you promise not to tell anyone else I will show you how it looks, like this:

Canopy Watch International
Sunrise casts a halo on a treeboat (or is it the reverse?) flying at 165 feet high in an old-growth Sitka spruce in Washington State, USA. Photo © David L. Anderson

This, dear friend, is a treeboat. The unenlightened may believe the treeboat to be a simple hammock, and we can leave them with their poor vision, but you and I, friend, we know better. Treeboats are designed and built for sleeping in the tops of trees. A hammock is a platform for drinking cold alcohol over sandy beaches, and any parrot head can hang one while standing on the ground. Treeboats are made with heavy canvass and straps strong enough to tow a truck. In the hands of an expert they are slung hundreds of feet above the ground. Choose the tallest tree, recline amongst the branches, close your eyes to half-open, and the sway of the canopy and the kiss of the wind will fly you over the forest.

Jamz Luce, grand master of big tree climbing, and treeboat guru.  Photo © David L. Anderson
Jamz Luce, grand master of big tree climbing, and treeboat guru. Photo © David L. Anderson

Fantasy in bed is the hunger that unites all young boys until one passionate night they are released into manhood. In a single moment longing turns to swagger, wonder to knowledge. I lost my treeboat virginity suspended 165 feet high in a Sitka spruce. A non-believer, I thought a treeboat to be some sort of a hammock, and my biggest concern was falling to death. A much greater fear is living an experience so pure and so vital that there is no looking back. I was rocked by a Barred Owl calling its mournful “who-cooks-for-you” in the light of a full moon. I floated through moon beams on a bed of fresh air high above the forest floor. With my eyes snapped wide open I found the secret of flight. It was a night of pleasure that divided my whole life into the before and the after. Before I experienced treeboating it was enough to hide under blankets and spy the glossy pages of tree climbing catalogs.  After I learned to fly I would never again be content to sleep on the ground.

Some poor doubter is going to think that this is just a bunch of hype, artistic license designed to get attention. Let me give you some perspective. I remember the night I slept on the plank floor of a palm-thatched house of a Miskito Indian family, as Caribbean waves lapped the beach under my head. I remember the night in Glacier Basin when the light of the stars was so huge that I could have performed brain surgery on my backpacking partner Phil, no external light source needed. Some nights are unforgettable and their memory never fades. Sleeping in a treeboat went beyond all that. It was magic. Let dreams take flight.

Sunset as seen from a treeboat floating high above the forest.  Photo © Jama Luce.
Sunset as seen from a treeboat floating high above the forest. Photo © Jamz Luce.
Sunrise in the treeboat, and ready for landing.  Photo © David L. Anderson
Sunrise in the treeboat, and ready for landing. Photo © David L. Anderson

Treeboats are made by New Tribe in Grants Pass, Oregon. Look for them here.

I would like to thank Jamz Luce for introducing me to treeboating, and  New Tribe for inventing the Treeboat.

New Tribe
Parting shot: The treeboat glows with the pure joy of flying. Photo © David L. Anderson