After a brief three weeks at home with my family and friends, I left Ithaca this morning at 3AM in the pissing rain. Our team of tree climbers loaded into the Cornell Outdoor Education van we headed north in the dark. My buddy Mark drove Jeff, Colin, Jake and I along with our seven 50lb bags and eight 20lbs bags to the well connected airport of Syracuse. Inside our bags we have almost 3000 feet of rope, about a hundred carabiners, ten pairs of ascenders, six cameras, and bunch of other gear. This is not exactly my normal style of rolling (only one carry on bag). Along the hour long ride we shared jokes and tales from previous adventures in California. We are all a little sad Mark isn't joining us there year, but with another child due to join his family in about ten days, I'm sure he and his wife will have his hands quite full in the upcoming weeks. We arrived to SYR at about 430AM to a quiet early morning departure hall. After schlepping our mountain of gear to the bag drop, we cleared security and boarded our flights to Sacramento via Chicago.
We're all stoked to get started on our annual collaboration with the University of California at Berkeley Center for Forestry. The third year running, this coast-to-coast research project involves climbing old growth Giant Sequoia and collecting mature seed cones. After we lower the full burlap sacks to the ground, the seeds cones are transported to the LA Moran Reforestation Center in Davis where ongoing research runs various tests on the seeds in the lab after processing. This past year the researchers uncovered some unique data regarding germination rates and we're excited to visit the lab tomorrow and see first hand what they've been up to this winter.
Since we are decent tree climbers and enjoy the challenge of the big trees, our fellow UCB colleagues have been happy to host us in the past. Looks like this year we'll be rigging to provide future researchers a long term access pathway to the canopies of the tress on the UCB property. Working this springtime project in the past at 5000' near Kings Canyon National Park in the Sierra Nevada is a joy. Quality weather, great vistas, and clear air make the working environment pleasant. Our climbing team has learned a ton from the knowledgeable Foresters who share loads of knowledge with us.
This year the collaboration will run almost three weeks in total and will have various phases. The first few days will be dedicated to scouting the trees and preparing climbing sites, as well as climbing some new trees. During the second phase our team of four instructors will teach a week long Giant Sequoia Tree Climbing course for students from Cornell University. And during our third week we'll rig a ton of trees with our best five tree climbers from the Cornell Tree Climbing Institute.
For me, I'll be in the Sierra until August 26th. Working the rest of the summer for the California Outward Bound School. Looking forward to the next hundred days sleeping outside under the stars. A summer full of challenge, big wilderness, clean air, and fun times. Keep an eye on the TIP for updates.
Its been a while since I've flown over this part of the states, and it reminded me of my early April flight over Saudia. Dry, stark, vast and wild. Below are a few shots out the window on our morning United flight from Chicago to Sacramento. Enjoy!
The Wild Wild West
Bluebird Skies and Farm Patchwork
Landing in Sacramento
Snow on the crest of the Sierra
Stormy Skies and a Manmade Reservoir