Wednesday, 27 January 2016

January the Oak!

Saturday was big turkey oak day and a superb day for climbing. We'd spotted a tall turkey oak on the edge of a small valley a few weeks ago and it looked a great one to climb but it always seemed to be raining. This morning we arrived to find sunshine, frozen hailstones and a woodpecker drumming in the alders further downstream. We piled all the gear into a 'barra and headed across a frosty lawn to set up. There were lots of branches to tangle up the line including one just in front of the main fork at at about 20m. Several shots later we hit a beauty and rigged a 100m Worksafe PLUS Static Rope as twin ropes. Going up.....


Der managed to get a shot of me with a 'firing face', just at the moment of action!

This is looking down from just below the TIP at 20m, it's a really straight run, and there's my groundsman looking like an ant way down there on the circular lawn.

Ok, so it was reckoning time - time to measure the tree by dropping a tape. It was 26.06m down to the floor and with my magic measuring stick I reached up to the tip of the king twig at 3m above, giving a very respectable 29.06m. See here for some truly Monumental Trees. Time to check out the view then head on down. Orange arb rope is over fork c.25m, and the access lines are in the main fork. I dropped down on the arb most of the way then switched over to the access lines on my Rig, fun times

And top of the mornin' to ya!

Friday, 8 January 2016

First mystery pic of 2016

 What are we looking at?  Some of you were pretty close - it is in fact the wallow of a wild boar!

On a wonderfully wild December day we ventured into the fantastic Forest of Dean and found signs and great hoof tracks and wallows scattered everywhere. Most of the wallows were centered on an old stump or root so they must like to have a bit of a scratch. In the thicker parts of the forest it felt like at any second we might have stumbled on a herd of ten or more wild boar giving me a feeling of something quite primeval, timeless even. And this subtle sense of timelessness opened up a shift in my perception, in my consciousness of the forest: for the forest was now no longer a plaything, it was something far larger than my understanding, an entity to be enveloped in, where I began to search all around me, alert for flickers of movement in my peripheral vision, watching for the watchers of old.

Ivy-clad trunk with a wallow at it's base.

Looking into the forest


Another place, another forest, Newfoundland and an encounter several years ago



Eventide gushes in dark as blankets of squid ink.
Now they are stirring,
legs unfolding, joint after joint,
mounds rising from the earth,
great forms that move and breathe:
breathing, breathing.

Their bodies drift upwards, now held aloft in the thick evening fug,
long legs so thin they seem inconsequential,
moss and needles dripping into slots:
each new-pressed slot filling with a dark water that oozes quietly in.

Forty-five yards away my eyes are two small moons,
a great breath is captive within me
and my heart is thumping out the rhythm I’m tree, I’m tree loud enough to convince myself, almost and yet,
I am of moss and mud and air
and only wish I was of antler and bone and tree.

Within that vast cloak of spruce who’s edges are frayed and worn
they stir, they are restless
they appear and disappear at will and not of my choosing
I watch as the slow drift of a moose passes and is no more.

Within that vast cloak of spruce who’s edges are frayed and worn
they are like ideas, hundreds thick
rustling across the threshold of my understanding.