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Colorado Rendezvous '07

Author: Wild Bill
Date: September 07, 2007
You don’t have to climb very high in a Ponderosa pine for a fantastic view – particularly if the slow-growth tree is 7,900 feet up on the east slope of Colorado’s famous Rocky Mountains.

The magnificent Ponderosas were the centerpiece trees for Harv Teitelbaum’s 2007 treeclimbing rendezvous last week in the mountains above Boulder, Colorado. The rendezvous was an awesome experience for the 34 adventure, research and educational climbers who came from all over the U.S., British Columbia and Taiwan.

Harv, whose home and treeclimbing school is located an hour’s drive farther south in the town of Evergreen, had managed to get the whole 1,200-acre Cal-Wood Education Center for five days and nights for the rendezvous. It was exactly the right place for adventure-seeking treeclimbers.

Facilities included a huge two-story lodge and fully-staffed dining hall that was built from Ponderosa logs and native stone. The lodge included classrooms and full restrooms and showers. There were four log cabins that each slept up to 16 people.

The weather was almost perfect, with only a few brief thundershowers in late afternoon. Morning lows were in the upper 50s to lower 60s Fahrenheit, and the afternoon highs were in the low 80s. Nearly all climbers got up before dawn every day to watch the spectacular sunrises.

The primary tree species on the ranch included the Ponderosas along with Douglas firs and “quaking” aspens and various cedars, all located on or near the ranch’s nine miles of hiking trails.

Wildlife on the ranch included black bears, mountain lions, marmots, ground squirrels, red-tailed hawks, bald eagles and mountain blue birds. Everybody hiked and climbed in groups of two or more, and the Colorado Division of Wildlife provided annoying “bear whistles” to every climber.

Harv also took one group of eight climbers to nearby Fort Collins, Colo., on Saturday to climb first in a gigantic lance leaf cottonwood that he uses for regularly scheduled program climbs, and then to the home of one of Genevieve Summers’ (Dancing with Trees) former students, who allowed them to climb in her equally gigantic English elm. About a dozen neighbors came out to watch, and one joined the group to log her first-ever climb.

My group of three – me, “Artic Abe” Winters, and “ol’ Joe of the Jungle” Maher – had turned the five-day rendezvous into a 12-day adventure to climb in every state we drove through between Atlanta and Colorado. (Note: I gave Abe the nickname of “Arctic Abe” because he likes to sleep under a thin sheet while motel air conditioners are turned down to near freezing temperatures – and the rest of us huddled and shivered in our three-season sleeping bags.)

Along the way west to Colorado we climbed along a rural hiking trail in western Kentucky, a roadside picnic area in southern Illinois, a city park on the left bank of the Mississippi, a wildlife refuge on the west bank of the Missouri River, and an interstate rest area in central Kansas.

On the way home we drove to 12,000-plus feet in Rocky Mountain National Park, and then climbed on the slopes of a volcano in New Mexico, in front of an old motel on Route 66 in Texas, on the east bank of the North Canadian River in Oklahoma, in an interstate rest area in western Arkansas, and at a national forest campground in northern Mississippi.

The long-dormant volcano in New Mexico turned out to be what Joe and Abe both called “a find.” The 8,000-foot Capulin Volcano National Monument was almost deserted – with maybe a half dozen other visitors during the five hours we spent there.

Joe and I hiked the volcano rim, with its hundred-mile-wide view of the near-desert landscape in northeastern New Mexico, and Abe and I hiked down into the 600-foot-deep caldron and “climbed” in a dwarf juniper about 25 feet from the central lava tube. Our “climbs” amounted to about a one-foot-high step up into the juniper.

We then descended the volcano and found some medium-height Ponderosa pines in an isolated picnic area near the base of the southern slope. While we climbed, mule deer strolled beneath our trees.

Unfortunately we had to head for home a lot sooner than we really wanted – Abe and I had to host a youth climb at his home grove south of Atlanta, and Joe helped Wild Rice and Swamp Fox with a college group at Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park in west-central Georgia.

Colorado, though, was still on our minds. Thanks Harv, for a great rendezvous…!

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