Article by Lori Tuskey, Event Host
SheJumps into the trees was such a neat and different experience. Our small group of mothers and daughters was perfect for this event. It was a beautiful sunny morning and we got to climb a gorgeous tree in Forest Hill Park in Richmond, Virginia. We learned how to climb like an arborist from a professional arborist with Riverside Outfitters.
We met our fellow SheJumpers and RO staff member, Jocelyn, in front of The Stone House. We got some good swag (EcoLip Balm, Treeline Coffee, Essential Wipes and stickers) and took a few moments to get know each other. None of us had a clue what to expect from this event.
We walked over to the edge of the woods and looked up at the huge, old tree that we were going to climb. The tree was hooked up with a rope system that reached about 70 feet up it’s trunk! I think we all had to take a deep breath.
Jocelyn, showed us how to use the rope system to climb up and how to belay down. The little girls had to just use their arms to pull their bodies up the rope. The adults had a foot loop that we stepped down on while pulling ourselves up with our arms. When we were ready to come down we pushed down on a knot that released tension and lowered us slowly to the ground. On our way up we could stop at any of the branches along the way to check out the view or just to take a much needed rest.
The first to climb were the smallest ones of our group who were age 5 and 7. On their first attempt they fearlessly shimmied about a third of the way up and rested on a large branch before coming down. The teenager of our group made it up to the same branch and limb walked.
Limb walking is similar to walking on a balance beam except that you are pretty high up in the air and you have to watch out for other branches and bumps all while giving yourself tension on your rope. Far out on the branch was a bell to ring your success. To get down from the limb you had to let yourself fall back and swing on the rope. I think swinging down was everyone’s favorite part.
When the adults went up they all went straight to the top. It was tough and our forearms were burning but we powered through with lots of encouragement from everyone on the ground. On the way down we stopped on the branch to try limb walking. All of us made it out to the bell! Kicking the bell counts too, right?
The younger SheJumpers had enough energy to try a second time. Two of them went all the way to the top and then limb walked. The youngest decided just to try limb walking.
I think everyone of us climbed higher and had more grit than we expected. Jocelyn, could not have been more calm and patient as she taught us to climb and belayed us. It was great to have a supportive group to share the experience with and to give support along the way.
Thanks to everyone who came out and a huge thanks to Lori for going out on a limb to put this awesome event together!