We certainly didn’t think that we would be spending any time in trees. Yet we found ourselves heading to Pemberton bright and early for a 2-hr drive after a few people preached the notion of an exhilarating treetop climb there, stopping to change over quite hilariously in a disease risk area.
Picturesque Pemberton is yet another small town that depends on timber and lumbering and calls itself Karri country for good reason. Surrounded by Karri forest, its attractions include the Bicentennial tree and the Gloucester tree that could be climbed for spectacular views of the forest.
In other words, we drove all that distance for a tree that is 61m up into the forest, and pegged with reinforcing bars in the 1940s as a fire lookout. But to steel our nerves, a visit to the Lavender and Berry Farm was first in order.
Then came the test.
The Gloucester tree, to my dismay, looked fairly intimidating up close and unlike the image of the tree and happy climbers that I saw on the Internet the night before. No wonder there were many who just stood and pointed at those who climbed.
But as TC reasoned, it was stupid and pointless to drive all the way there and not do it.
And so we did, without any further thinking, which would have probably made cowards of us all. We were next up after a family and a pair of Dutch girls. A foot up and then the other, with hands always firmly curled around the pegs. Do not look down. Focus. Try to stay on one side and cling on for dear life as people climbed down, placing their additional weight momentarily on the rebar that trembled in protest.
Halfway up, my hands were red and numb from a mixture of the cold wind and adrenaline and my legs were not listening to my commands to stop trembling. Weather conditions however, were excellent and not against us – just wind, and cloudy skies with some sunshine. No rain to make the pegs slippery, no gusty winds to throw you off the pegs.
I think there is some sort of shared exhilaration at the top. Those who climbed as opposed to those who did not climb, could share a sort of camaraderie having survived what was perceived as a potentially life-changing moment.
The views were spectacular. “Oh my god…!” yelled a kid who reached the top as we were going down. We laughed shakily.
TC felt pretty much the same. He however, chose to tell a few terrified children who were on their way up or down a detailed version of his fright. “Halfway up, I was asking myself, why the hell I decided to do this,” he said.
I was panting too hard to laugh. In hindsight, it was quite the uproarious moment. In hindsight, the ascent and descent had indeed, taken a lot shorter than I had anticipated and much less effort than I thought. And I’d do it again for the kick of it.
How else to celebrate? Visit yet another alcoholic shop called the Blackwood Meadery on the way back in Karridale.