Nerstrand Big Woods Forest


The adventure was on! By this trip I had my rope ascension skills dialed and my goal was to find a monster tree with enourmous branches. I am pretty sure that there was no camping allowed in this park but…


I told myself that it was ok since I will be ontop of a tree where:

1. No one will see me
2. I follow leave no trace rules
3. Even if I didn’t follow L.N.T. who the hell is going to see my traces when they are 70 feet high in a tree?

The ethics of my decision to camp where I was not allowed can be debated but you will find at the end of this story that I was ultimately in the wrong.

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Straight from the parkinglot I started bushwacking off the trail. The forest canopy was so high and thick that there wasn’t really any shrubs to get in my way while bushwacking so it was quite easy going. This is good because I wondered around this forest, off the trail, for about 3 hours looking for the perfect tree. I finally stumbled upon one that I could not pass up! It wasn’t the biggest tree but boy was it cool looking. The tree went up verticaly about 50′ and then bent over 90 degrees so that the trunk was horizontal to the ground. I do not know what caused this because the tree looked healthy, no signs of cracks from lightning or anything like that!

I ascended into the tree and set up camp. I was feeling lazy after a full day of hiking so I didn’t plan on putting up my tarp but I hung it anyways (half-assed I must admit). This turned out to be a smart move because I was awakened in the middle of the night by rain falling on my face! I battened down the hatches and quickly fell back to sleep.

The next morning was SO beautiful! I was able to climb into a neighboring tree and ascend to about 70′ high which allowed me to see my whole campsite and all of the tiny rain droplets covering the multicolored leaves.

After I took down camp I hiked back to my car and found a letter on my window that said, “Please stop into the Rangers office.” I was young and stupid so I drove away as fast as I could! I called their office as soon as I was outside of the park and said, “I didn’t see the letter on my windshield until now, how can I help you?” I had to explain why my car was parked there all night. I then reexplained it about 10 times because they were so dumbfounded by my story.

Nerstrand forest is a beautiful park with some absolutely GIANT trees. I may have to go back to the ranger station some day and ask politely if I can try it again.

Tags: canopy camping , hammock camping , dangerous hammocking , hammock high in the tree top , tree top camping , tree climbing , tree ascension , rope ascension , RADS , minnesota tree climbing , tree camping


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