Room With a View: Recreational Big Tree Climbing

"Looking up, for me, is better than looking down," I tell Miron.

"Then you'd better keep looking up," he says, with a smirk, from about 15 feet over my head.

And up we go.

At about 100 feet, we enter the first stages of the canopy. On those branches are plants you won't see on the ground. They're called epiphytes. They act like sponges and grow without soil.

Our climbing companion, Adam Kennedy, a forest scientist, explained, "The amount of moisture that they hold for the forest is enormous. The forest canopy actually relies on the humidity that they offer to reduce some of the stress that this forest goes through."

These specially adapted plants may be some of the least impressive sights of the day ... but have helped this forest survive thousands of years.

The higher we climb, the more pronounced even the smallest sensations become.

At about 175 feet up, a gust of air or a bump to the rope commands our attention.

Miron reminds us that each rope is designed to hold 7,000 pounds.

We'd all have to be thinking logically for that to matter.

At somewhere around 200 feet, Heising and Adam and Helen Kennedy climb into their "tree boats" -- their nests for the duration.

A Zen Adventure

Miron and I kept climbing ... navigating some tough branches to get to an amazing view -- easy for a pro, not so easy for me.

"Lean back on your rope, lean away from the tree and stand up on those limbs -- and push your top ascender up. Nice, there you go!" Miron says.

The view was spectacular.

"It's like a Zen adventure. It's very calm and at your own pace, but at the same time, you're doing something really extreme, " Miron told me as he perched with me on a branch about 250 feet above the forest floor.

It was strangely relaxing. But he knows what it took to get here.

"You've had to go through different barriers in order to get here though," he said. "It wasn't like that necessarily on the whole way up."

I ask Miron what it's like watching people break those barriers as they make the climb.

"They find a ceiling and figure out what they need to do to be able to break through that and continue on to the next part of the expedition," he says. "And I think that the personal growth lets people understand who they are and understand what they're capable of, and a lot more. I think people don't really give themselves enough credit for what they're able to do."

This is the fifth season for "The Pacific Tree Climbing Institute." Miron says his career is something he never could have imagined. He and Seppa have pioneered techniques that make them welcome in the most pristine and protected of forests.

"You really have to get innovative with your different techniques and ideas to be able to make the canopy accessible for everybody, but also make it so you're not impacting the tree," says Miron.

Miron and I make our way down to the others, who are settled in their "tree boats" at about 200 feet up. We eat our meals, strangely comfortable and trusting of the branch that holds us.

As night closes in, it is calm.

And we awaken, barely noticing our perch.

Seppa appears out of nowhere, hanging alongside my "tree boat" with a hot thermos of coffee and the fragrance of peppermint steam rising from a warm washcloth. It is the ultimate wake-up call from a night sleeping in the old-growth forest.

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