Crow’s Nest: Climbing Trees
By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager.
There are a few good trees for climbing at Crow’s Nest. Not all of them, however, are particularly easy to get to—especially in the summer when it would require wading through tall vegetation.
A majority of our trees are forest-grown: tall, narrow, and lacking low branches. We’ve planted a few trees in meadows to become climbing trees for future generations. They’re broad-spreading species given lots of room to grow wide but we won’t live to see them hosting kids from every branch.
(We haven’t done any training to these young trees, bonsai style, to ensure that their branches remain low and accessible. Nor do we have any fallen trees which have continued to grow, as has the climbing tree at Haverford College, an Osage orange (Maclura pomifera) that has delighted children and adults for decades.)
But I have selected a good climbing tree already here, Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) that has some comfortable branches and a strong structure. I pruned out some dead wood to make the access and view better (vista from up in the branches shown below), leaving a few handholds here and there. Then I mowed a path leading to it. One of our small group hikes at summer camp will spend some time in this tree, reading, drawing, telling stories, or…?
I had a supervisor, Eric Larson, when I worked summers at the Haverford College Arboretum, who encouraged our crew of students who had spent a long, hot day weeding, to spend some time relaxing together high in the branches of a tree on campus, even though our workday wasn’t done. This struck me at the time as excellent leadership; Eric inspired me with the love for trees and that afternoon has remained strong in my memory ever since. I hope that spending time up in trees similarly inspires others.