cloudhiking - maps and adventure guides

Site Links


Contact Us









Friends' Links

Appalachia & Beyond

Family Wilds


Marking My Territory

Outcast Hikers


056 Tree Topping 2009-03-13

high in the tree with a chainsaw

With my toe still in tact I met friends to top a tree in their yard. The tree was a hackberry which an arborist once told me that "they ain’t nothin’ but an ol’ weed." They are fast growing trees, that rot from the core out. My friends tree had dying branches overlooking their neighbors house. So it was decided we should have a tree chopping party and fix the problem.

Because of the condition of my foot I knew I was not going to be much help to the crew but I did bring the saw, some ropes, and a chair. I was planning on watching quite a bit - out of harms way. Well, maybe supervising a bit.

The tree formed two major branches one of which was the dying culprit. That branch of the tree further divided into three more upward shoots each about eighteen inches in diameter. My friend, Ray, climbed up a tree fort style ladder of two by fours to anchor himself twenty-five feet above the ground at the three branch fork. While Ray trimmed a few extra branches in the cut zone, the ground crew discussed where to drop the limbs.

We were going to throw a handy line high onto a tree branch and pull it from the bottom to help land the cut limb. However the monkey’s fist (a knot tied over and around a weight to make a ball like dongle fastened to the end of a heaving line) was steadfastly stuck in the good branch of the tree. Jon had thrown it up the day before and was unable to retrieve the line. He was going to use it as a belay of sorts, but we decided we just needed to retrieve it, nobody wanted to do a Tarzan swing with a chain saw in hand. The problem was that the monkey’s fist was most assuredly stuck between some small branches. All the tugging on the line just seemed to tighten the trees clutches on the knot. We were not able to pull it out of the tree.

Using a twelve foot tent pole Ray prodded the knot trying to loosen the tree’s grasp, but the pole kept separating and dangling from the shock corded sections. Next we handed Ray a long branch with a coat hanger attached to one end. Using the hook, he tried to catch the knot and pull it downward over the limb. Laughter filled the air as we watched Ray swinging around in his climbing harness trying to gain every inch of leverage as he tried try to poke, jab, and capture the monkey fist. Persistence brought victory and the monkey’s fist was rescued. I was a little disappointed with the rescue because I kept envisioning devious methods Jon could use to rescue the stuck knot - if Ray had been unable to retrieve it. All my suggestions were far more sensational than poking it with a stick!

With the monkey fist finally down, the fun was over and the work began. Taking our time we directed each limbs fall and placed each as planned on the ground. About three hours later Ray came down from the tree and we finished sawing and transporting the firewood to the shed behind the house. It was a good day and Jon took everyone out for dinner at a near-by Mexican restaurant. There’s not much else as good as hard work and lots of fun with friends. My mom would be proud to know that every now and then I do use those special climbing skills for something useful other than trying to kill myself!


Name (required):

Comment (required):

Please Introduce Secure Code: