Ascension

How does it feel to be up in the crown of a tree?

“Just climb and you’ll find out,” I answered myself.

And so I did with my friend Sam, a professional arborist. Leading up to this moment, I have been super excited and looking forward to it for days. At this crucial stage, I was going to see if my future would still be unfolding amongst the leaves.

We met outside my favourite wood, where I’m also a volunteer warden. Sam had all the gear and as we gathered the stuff we needed, I couldn’t wait to take off.

Team photo before we set off to find a tree

I was more than familiar with this woodland and to have my first climb at my favourite spot certainly felt very special. I was glad to be in safe hands, and to be shown the ropes (excuse the pun) by an experienced, well-travelled professional.

After some deliberation we selected a nice beech tree that wasn’t too difficult to scale with a decent height to start with. Sam went first, setting up his ropes and then mine, while I fiddled with my harness at ground level.

Sam was really good at not bombarding me with loads of information, but rather just giving me the gist; showing me the key safety features and how to work the rope system. As this will be something I would pick up in due time, I wasn’t worried at all. All I wanted to focus on was to get up into the giant’s crown conscientiously.

Starting the ascent!

I learned very quickly that it was all about TRUST. Trusting that my friend had my back, trusting my harness would hold my weight, trusting that the ropes were there for me and trusting my instincts. As I climbed, I was heaving myself up at first while trying to make sense of being in a strange position and moving against gravity. I reminded myself, “This is like rock climbing”, which I have done once on a sheer cliff. Sam told me to observe the tree’s biomechanics, find spots where I could position and advance without tiring myself out, and to remember that the rope is there to support me mostly.

“Just climb”, he said.

Something primal kicked in. It felt so natural and comfortable as one foot went above the other, surrounding the tree (trunk) myself and then being surrounded by the tree as I went higher up. I was meant to be there at that very moment.
As the canopy completely enveloped me, I became one with the tree.

I looked down beyond my feet at the ground, being not too far away but high enough to be nestled amongst the tallest branches. If I was being hunted by an animal that couldn’t climb, I would feel perfectly safe at that height! Going as high as we could, I also tried walking out halfway along a branch too, which was fun. Eventually I sat back comfortably into my harness and relaxed against a branch, looking around me and still not believing that I’d actually done it (with my friend’s help of course, thanks Sam!).

I was ready to step into this brave new world, and my experience up there gave me a different and more intense perspective, understanding and connection to the trees I hold so dearly.

This day will always be remembered, and it won’t be the last.

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