In Celebration of Trees

May 22

It was a fabulous day at Alder Creek Grove in the Sierra Nevada Mountains as 23 people gathered for the first day of a week-long tree climbing trip to collect and archive the genetics of some of the oldest, largest, and perhaps most important trees on earth – the coast redwoods and giant sequoias.  May 22 was a day to get organized on the mountain and to give those who hadn’t climbed a giant sequoia before in their life a chance to do so.  It was a once-in-a-lifetime bucket list item check-off for many who participated!


Included in the group gathered were professional tree climbers along with a support group of many others.  The weather was clear and sunny early in the day, with clouds and fog mid-day, and then sun returning later in the day.

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Professional climbers set up ropes to climb a 220 foot high giant sequoia.  It’s the one on the left in the two photos above.  This tree was not the largest around, but it was well-positioned to have a 16 people climb the tree, 15 of whom had never climbed a 220 foot high sequoia.  Here are some photos of people ascending and descending the tree using an “elevator” technique.

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Below, the peanut gallery, watching the ascents and descents:

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May 23 more serious climbing will be done by the professional climbers, as they will be climbing the legendary Amos Alonzo Stagg tree within sight of the tree that was climbed today and gathering clone material to create a new crop of sequoias with the DNA of the Stagg tree.  Here are a few photos taken while visiting the Stagg tree on May 22.

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Many more photos and videos were taken of people and trees.  A few selected ones are shown below.

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Best friends: David Milarch and Cindy Spiegel, editor of the book about David, The Man Who Planted Trees.

Best friends: David Milarch and Cindy Spiegel, editor of the book about David, The Man Who Planted Trees.

When you’re looking at trees like this, all you can do is look up in awe.

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I was one of those traveling up to the top of the 220 foot high tree.

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Getting closer to the top 200 feet above the ground . . .

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Finally arrived . . .

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What an amazing experience!  Here are a two images I snapped while at the top of the tree.

Looking down 200 feet.

Looking down 200 feet.

Bo Burke, one of the pros at the top.

Bo Burke, one of the pros at the top.

For more photos and video clips of people who ascended to the top of this tree, click on the “Pics and Clips from 200 ft up” button on the right below.

8 thoughts on “May 22

  1. Kari Esbensen


    I just learned about your tree blog. Its beautiful. Just came back from spending the weekend in the middle of the Nicolet National Forest with my husband Russ and his 90 year-old dad where they own 80-acres of forest within the forest. I was in seventh heaven marveling at the trees, listening to the oven birds, thrushes, and photographing the myriad wildflowers on the forest floor. Years ago I was the Chair for our local Tree Advisory Committee, perhaps something like the group of which you are a part in Seattle. Anyway, its wonderful to know you are still so connected to the trees and to the earth. Wonder if you’ve heard of Shinrin-yoku or “forest bathing”? I think it gets at some of what the experience time spent in a forest offers. Anway, wanted to take a minute to wish you well on your journey.


    Kari Anna

  2. Diane

    What fantastic photos, Philip–and what a fantastic experience! The top of a 200-foot tree??! Are you kidding? Beats lilac trees behind the garage when you were a kid! Love your photos and your commentary–hope you have the wifi and time to keep it up.

  3. Mary DiCarlo

    Everyone at the TREE Fund wishes you a safe, productive and awe-inspiring adventure. We’ll be following your progress, especially STIHL Tour des Trees rider Andy Kittsley. Enjoy!

  4. Michael-Patrick Hogue

    Bravery, talent, adventure, incredible skills, and above all a commitment to something more important than most can possibly imagine. David, Jake, and the rest of the team, BE CAREFUL, as you carry in your hands the future…
    Your friend, admirer, and above all, a huge supporter of your mission!
    Michael-Patrick Hogue, Athena, Saoirse!
    The Best Coast 2016

  5. MaryEllyn Mattison-Doerr

    What a nice way to start a blog with an adventure and stunning photographs. I will be

    happy to follow you some more. MaryEllyn

  6. Kerry Milarch

    Thank you for taking the time to do this, Phillip! The photos and the commentary are terrific!

  7. kristen esbensen

    Dear Philip, What you are doing is amazing! Your photographs from 200 feet are beautiful. What a glorious adventure you are having. Makes me wonder if sometime you might not enjoy visiting some of the trees you planted in Oregon some 35 years ago.

    Be safe and keep the photographs and descriptions coming.

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