When asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, explorer George Mallory famously replied “Because it is there.” It’s a sentiment understood by practically every kid who ever stared up at a tall tree, determined to perch among its lofty branches and view the world below. In fact, it’s quite possible (though we can’t prove it) that a childhood tree first inspired Mr. Mallory’s lifelong interest in climbing. It seems a reasonable assessment considering this shared fascination we seem to biologically retain towards relaxing atop our forest friends. Let’s take a look back at the tradition of climbing trees.
The first thing a potential tree climber learned is that all trees were not created equal. Most importantly, they had to be able to support your weight. Saplings wouldn’t work, nor would any with skinny branches, lest you want a quick lesson in the laws of gravity. The thick and sturdy branches of a mature tree were your best bet, and a big enough specimen might allow you and a bunch of friends to each have your own branch. Nothing was more relaxing on a summer day than escaping within the isolated confines of a shady tree, and pondering life’s questions, such as what it might be like to live among the branches. These yearnings led to the advent of another beloved pleasure of childhood, the tree house.
Whether simply climbing trees, swinging from their branches on a tire swing, or turning them into a childhood condo, children learn quickly in life that trees are our friends. In fact, you probably still have fond memories of your best tree friend, the one whose branches were angled just right. The one whose outstretched limbs beckoned you to cling to, as you carefully ascended towards the clouds, the feeling of freedom coursing through your veins. You know the one we’re talking about.
We’d love to hear about your favorite tree to climb in our comments section, as we take a moment to reflect upon these foresty friends from our collective past that provided so many hours of enjoyment, simply because they were there.