You know what trees are, right? Like, I don’t have to go into the fundamentals of how seeds go to sleep under soil, then Earth-magic splits them, and eventually — after hundreds of years — gigantic, climbable wooden tendrils emerge from the dirt.
Okay, good... I worry about you sometimes.
I’ll cut straight to it: Leah and I climbed one of these "trees" last weekend. Scratch that, she climbed a 60-foot rope attached to an 85-foot, 200-year-old white oak four times and did flippin' flips at staggering heights. I, in total spineless fashion, panicked 10 feet up on my first try and pathetically returned to Earth after roughly seven minutes.
we she didn’t climb a tree on our her own. Under the guidance of expert Bill Byrne, founder of and instructor for EarthJoy Tree Climbing Adventures, we learned how to harness up, work some knots, and vertically ascend a massive tree from an expert.
It was a workout, and it took some technical finesse to get the hang of it, but Bill and the EarthJoy crew were there to make sure we knew how to climb like pros. ... After a minor, preliminary tutorial, of course.
I mean, Leah was basically Spiderman in a leafy NYC (except it was AJ Jolly Park in Alexandria, Ky.) after 10 minutes in the air. (Go peep those gallery photos to see if for yourself.)
Bill and his wife, Shelly, started EarthJoy in 2005, when the Venn diagram of their deep appreciation of nature overlapped with their willingness to share their passion with others.
Since then, the couple has been teaching everyone, from young children (literally everyone else in the tree when we were there) to 92-year-old ladies (a real statistic, btw), how to expertly scale immense trees from the deep woods of Germantown, Kentucky to the MetroParks in Dayton, Ohio and a few other places in between. And, word to the wise, they do it year-round.
Just Monkeying Around
Let me tell ya, Bill knows how to scale a tree. This dude has climbed 250-foot redwoods before. He’s never had an incident in over 10 years of showing amateurs how to climb trees, and he loves it when people leave his class smiling about what they just accomplished. Perfect example: Leah’s grin was permanently caked to her face as she snaked through those white oak limbs.
Even though my chicken feet were good with keeping the tree trunk company, I loved hanging out with Bill on the ground as we gazed upward at Leah’s aerial acrobatics. Sometimes it's just as good to live vicariously...
Unless, of course, you're the type of person who has no fear and loves being harnessed three stories up. If that describes you, would you mind telling Leah to come back down to Earth? She was supposed to write this story, but I haven't seen her since Sunday.
Can you help a groundling out?
EarthJoy Tree Climbing Adventures offers climbs at AJ Jolly Park in Alexandria, Ky., Hueston Woods in Oxford, Ohio; the MetroParks in Dayton; and on the owner's 200-acre property in Germantown, Ky. They also own a tree house that can be rented out. It was featured on Pete Nelson's "Tree House Masters" in February of 2014.