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A Canopy Adventure with Archangel Ancient Tree Archive

Twice I told David Milarch, founder of Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, an organization cloning champion trees and planting them in Living Tree Libraries all around the world, that I would love to go up in the canopy someday. When I spoke those fateful words, I was watching climbers ascend to take cuttings of the sun needles at the top of the trees, since these are the ones that have the best chance of growing new trees.

I even wrote in my new book, Wild Path to the Sacred Heart, that I hoped someday I'd get to go up into the treetops. Then David did something I thought would never actually happen; he invited me to actually ascend a redwood giant.

Terrified, I spent the next few weeks thinking of ways to get out of it. Why had I told David, and written in my book, that I wanted to go up? I most certainly did not! It was too scary! I'm afraid of heights.

But now I'd look like a hypocrite if I didn't climb. My mind spun excuses. Maybe I could say that my tummy hurt--which it certainly did from the stress of even thinking about going up a giant redwood two or three hundred feet into the sky. Or, I could use my sore shoulder.

And so it went until I found myself strapped into a harness and guided up the tree with AATA's wonderful and professional climbing crew. At the top, I was greeted by Matt swinging blithely in his harness. Matt told me I could swing, too, but I didn't. Instead, my body trembled while I clutched a branch with one hand, wrapped the other arm around the thin trunk at the top, and kept my feet securely on the limb below. Still, the wind whispered through the fronds and rocked the tree gently in the breeze. I felt like an eagle perched high in her aerie, and some subtle change came over my being.

When I came down again, I knew I'd never be quite the same. And I also knew that, whether from the base or the crown, we have just begun our exploration of communing with trees. Our human survival and that of the trees is twined together as intimately as the way my body hugged the redwood.

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