Touching The Stars

Hanging up HIGH!

The trip was stupidly awesome. Here were my emotions in order:

1. Where are the big trees?
2. Look at the size of that one!
3. **** this. I quit.
4. I’m lonely and I hate the dark.
5. How high have I climbed?
6. I cannot comprehend the beauty of this view.
7. I wish I could explain this feeling to others.
8. Sleep time.
9. I’m so warm.
10. I don’t want to get out of bed.
11. ****, I still don’t want to get out of bed.
12. I am now cold.
13. This feels higher when I can see the ground.
14. The sun makes everything so much easier.
15. Goodbye tree!

The Story

I started this trip from my house and drove 5 hours, alone, up to the desolate woods of Northern Minnesota. As I started hiking I was a bit worried about the extreme lack of any trees taller than 30′. I THOUGHT THIS PLACE WAS SUPPOSED TO HAVE A BUNCH OF OLD GROWTH! But! After I got about 4 miles into the forest I stumbled upon a giant spruce towering above all the other trees around it. You would have wanted to climb it as bad as I did. After one and a half hours (and lots of cursing) I finally got my throwline and myself into the tree.

It got dark quickly and as soon as I got up past 50 feet the canopy became extremely thick. There was barely enough space between each branch for me to fit so I just started free climbing and trailing my rope. As I reached the summit I turned around and was absolutely dumbfounded. It was a full moon and I was standing 100 feet above the base of the tree just staring at the vastness of the beautiful forest canopy below me. The emotions are impossible to explain with words or pictures. I wish you could have experienced it!

I climbed halfway down and set up the hammock. Just as I was getting into bed I DROPPED ONE OF MY PADS (I had two) and watched it float 50 feet to the ground. I decided I was way too lazy to get back out of the hammock, rappel down, and climb back up so I went without…

GOOD MORNING! This was the first time EVER that I slept in all of my clothes and gear. I will continue to do this for the rest of my climbing career because it worked! My helmet was like a pillow!

Here is the view under my hammock (Note the pad I dropped highlighted in red, great huh?):

My safety gear:

This is the insignificant amount of condensation that formed from using a non-breathable tarp-sock:

Sitting in my hammock looking down:

My hammock viewed from the spruce tree:

I rappelled to the ground just for a picture:

And then climbed ALL THE WAY back to the top!

All of the maple trees in the area topped out at about 60 feet so climbing to the top of this spruce tree gave me an eagle’s eye view of the entire forest! How unique is that view!? This was the first time I ever tied my hammock between two trees and after speaking with some of my arborist friends I now know that it is a very unsafe practice. DO NOT EVER HANG BETWEEN TWO SEPARATE CANOPIES! The forces created from tying two trees that are swaying in different directions can break them down on top of you. DO NOT EVER DO IT!

I fortunately had a safe trip and was quite sad to hike out knowing that I was leaving the beauty and silence to drive back into the noisy and dirty cities. I promised the Superior Hiking Trail that I would be back soon and began my journey home.

Tags: superior hiking trail , shta hammock , winter hammock , cold hammock , sleeping pad hammock , ridgerest winter , 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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