For years I'd been hearing about the Gloucester Tree, and how Mike had Actually Climbed It when he was younger (and shorter and lighter), and how he had Actually Climbed It again (while still y/s/l), and both times it was all back when every other step was made of wood.
Mike and the Tree today:
Search YouTube for "Climbing the Gloucester Tree" if you want to test your fear of heights. The best videos are the ones where someone on the way down has to pass someone on the way up. Gives a whole new meaning to "tree hugger."
Wikipedia tells me that the tree is 72 metres high. (I have to talk in metres and also spell it that way to appease my American father, who is very concerned about my plan to learn to express temperature in Celsius based on feelings and not drills in rapid calculations. I suspect he fears that the Aussies will kick me out permanently, and then he'll be back to me hanging around his place and not showing proper enthusiasm for the all-CBS-all-the-time lineup. Hey, I can now tell NCIS from Criminal Minds from CSI: New York. Asking for more is greedy.)
Anyway, it's a Terribly Tall Tree, but actually not the highest fire lookout tree that you can climb in the area, just the second-highest. (Which you probably already know because you were reading the Wikipedia article while I parenthetically sorted out my Daddy/metric issues.)
Would I climb it if I were more fit? Is this what it will take to turn my idle days into a Rocky montage?
Nah. You'd think so, since I never miss a chance to talk about climbing the main pyramid at Uxmal (oh, look what I did), which they don't even let people do anymore. *slams figurative shot of whiskey back*
But, surprisingly, I didn't have any "damnit, ample hips!" moments when considering the tree. I don't have a fear of heights, so it wasn't that. I think I'm just really too wary (and weary) of people these days to dare to do something that might require cooperation from strangers (when scooching past someone), no matter what my size.
(Also, climbing Uxmal didn't open as many limo doors for me as you'd think. Okay, it's only half as tall as the Gloucester Tree, but the steps were all crumbly!)
Mike's excuse was just that he's big and in no shape for it.
Ah well. We had plenty of fun sitting at base because of the WILD PARROTS!
Mike was teaching me names like "28 parrot" and "Western Roselle" for the first time, but little did I know that two weeks later we'd be season pass holders to the local wildlife park, and that holding these and other parrots would be just a normal day for us. But today I was just breathless with the idea of a country where wild parrots just wander past your shoes like it's no big deal.
Back to tree gawking:
See how every other bump is smaller? The smaller bumps must be from where the wooden rails used to be?
Taking a break from amazement, we decided to wander around on one of the trails.
It was a little nippy, so we chose the easy 400m walk. (Plus my gimpy ankle was burning, but I have Lazy Fat Girl guilt that means I'll stoically suffer until Wise Willendorf Woman kicks in and starts blaming society for making me feel like I'm not allowed to take a break until I either conform to beauty standards or at least have a better injury backstory than "stepped in a pothole.")
(The trick to having issues is to not let them keep you from doing the stuff you like. I'm still trying to figure out if that means I wanted to climb the Gloucester Tree or not.)
The Bibbulman Track sign in the photo above refers to what is sort of the Western Australian equivalent of the Appalachian Trail, although it's "only" 620 miles long.
A good forest throws in a glimpse of the primordial.
(He's taking photos, not texting.)
"Mike! Keep your eyes open!" (After five failed shots.)
I grew up walking in the woods of Michigan. I've missed it.
Soon we were back with the birdies.
We gazed at the Tree some more, signed the guest book, looked over the interpretative display, and got back into the car. Maybe we'd be back again tomorrow? Our pass was good for two days. Who knew? This was our first vacation without pets waiting at home, so for the first time in ever, all we had to do was get home before school started the next week... a thought almost as dizzying as staring up at the tree.
15 May 2013 | Permalink