On Saturday evening, Stefia and I went contra dancing and then had a meandering conversation that lasted until some ridiculous hour of the morning.

As a result, I was tired the next day and feeling a little unhealthy. When Stefia dropped by, she suggested that one way to feel more healthy would be to do yoga.

Now, despite having some decent basic flexibility, yoga is somewhat intimidating to me. Especially when people start stick their feet behind their head and what not. But Stefia was persistent. “Look,” she said, “you just fold this leg beneath yourself, push this leg back, and sit upright. It's easy.”

Well, it didn't look that hard, so I slipped into the position. First with one leg, then the other. And it was pretty do-able: none of my tendons or ligaments snapped apart. All good. We took a walk, she left. I went to bed.

And completely failed to sleep at all. My hips were soooo sore!

But it wasn't just that. I'd somehow picked up some weird disease and felt oddly dizzy.

For the next few days I alternated between going to bed at 2, waking up at 10… and going to bed at 10, waking up at 6. The dizziness and ill-feelings continued.

Come Wednesday, I was feeling decent during the day, but still pretty terrible at night. But it was a good day for climbing and Joe was available. While I've had my own equipment for some time now, the club is exciting to work with not just for the company, but also for the equipment: they have a tree saddle.

I hit the one-square-foot opening I needed with the throw line on my first toss, which was an indication that I've improved quite a bit from last summer. Not happy with how it laid across the branch, I took it down and threw again. Then it was up into the trees.

The saddle was not very comfortable for ascending with. It squished my thighs together and made it difficult to spread my legs to grab branches. I was disappointed. But, out on the branches, it came into its own. Branch-walking with it was great. Having two D-loops also invited experimentation. I tossed a throw-line over to another tree, snaked a loop across the ground and retrieved the throw bag without having to descend, and then set up another ascension line: I'd been wanting to do this for a long time. I could move in a controlled fashion between trees through 3-space, without needing to touch or utilize branches other than for ropes. Later on, looking up, the other members of the club referred to me as “Crazy Richard”. The cost of innovation, I suppose.

Come Friday, I willed myself to be in good shape and up at a reasonable hour. Back in the Fall, I'd wrote to Gary, the director of the Urban Foresty program, at the U and he'd invited me to an arborist company's recruiting meeting. Aside from some great pizza and learning about the company, I also met the eight people in the program who later joined their powers to from the U of MN Tree Climbing Club. And now it was the U's Forestry Day and we were going to take people into the trees with us.

The day began with a pancake breakfast served with orange juice, oranges, and bananas. Afterwards we went out to try to find suitable trees by the Mall where the Timber Games people were setting up to throw axes, lug logs, and so on.

Joe and I found a nice tree with scads of perpendicular branches and he began tossing a line. As he did so, I eyed another tree about sixty or more feet away. “Hey Joe”, I nudged him, pointing. And then I said one more word: &lqduo;zipeline”. He stopped his work with the line and we stood, staring, for a moment. Then he nodded and I meandered off with the other half of the equipment.

A couple walked up beneath the tree as I was rigging the zipline and called up that they'd just read “Wild Trees” and how this was such a coincidence. I'd read the book (this took place while I was flying above the Greenland Ice Sheet, which is how I knew I had a problem) myself a few years after learning about the existence of recreational tree climbing and knew what a powerful motivator it could be. We got them up into the tree.

We didn't have the equipment on-hand to tension the zipline, which may have been good because that puts a fair amount of tension on the rope. Still, it was surprising how much the rope seemed to stretch once you put a person on it.

The other ropes we had were long enough that I was able to make two ascension lines into my tree, which was helpful for getting people off the zipline. As we were packing up, Joe flung himself into space and rocketed towards me, crawled up the last few feet, and spent a couple of seconds staring at the mass of knots. “You're crazy”, he concluded.



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