Visit Twin Pines Recreation in Danville and you'll realize this is no ordinary place. With a tree house for adults and a bunch of people acting like monkeys, you may have to pinch yourself to make sure you're not dreaming. But such is life for a recreational tree climber.
The sport is relatively new to the outdoor recreation scene. More popular out West-- the activity requires a helmet, a harness, a rope and a little faith in your guide. After a safety check and a quick crash course in the art of knots, it's up, up and away.
Some pick it up immediately... others not so much.
"Getting off the ground is tough but once you're up there and you're coming down, everyone loves descending, coming through the trees," said Al Manning of Twin Pines.
Most beginners can climb a 30-foot tree in a matter of minutes, although spectators grew bored waiting for me to reach the top. But once one masters these 30-foot tall midgets the real fun begins. Just make sure you don't break-- swinging up against a tree.
From there it's back down the tree and on to bigger and better things. In this case-- much bigger.
"The red line for a tree climber is about 50 feet, so you'll be going 60, so you'll be fine," Manning laughed.
The sport actually is very safe. Climbers never unhook from the rope and multiple knots prevent you from accidentally slipping down the tree. But it does take practice; climbing too quickly can wind you.
A 60-foot climb does have its rewards. In this case-- a well deserved rest.
"A lot of time I'll go up with a book," Manning said. "I'll sit up here, very comfortable and just read a book for an hour. Take it easy."
Most climbers feel a strong sense of pride or accomplishment-- especially those with a fear of heights.
"I love heights. I love anything a little exciting, a little bit out of the ordinary," climber Amy Gallipeault said.
And living life high above the forest floor can change you.
"It's just so much fun and relaxing," Manning said. "Peaceful in the trees. I've actually turned into a tree hugger as you can tell."
Manning also considers himself a modern day Peter Pan-- a grown man who refuses to grow up.
"Brings back memories, and there's nothing like childhood memories," he said.
All in all, not a bad way to spend the day whether your 7 or 70. Summer fun high atop the trees.
If you'd like to check tree climbing out for yourself without actually purchasing all the gear, a half-day session at Twin Pines recreational tree climbing costs $60-- $30 for kids 10 and younger.
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