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girls walking down a path
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Life > Experiences

A Beginner’s Guide to Tree Climbing at Kenyon College

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Kenyon chapter.

I have always held trees in high regard, but I didn’t begin to develop a true appreciation for them until I moved outside Seattle during my junior year of high school. Since then, I have turned to many trees and forests in search of solitude and comfort. When I came to Kenyon last fall, I deserted my familiar Alders and Douglas Firs for the grand Oaks and Pines of central Ohio. I have a great appreciation for the trees of the Pacific Northwest and was dubious that the midwest would live up to my already established tree relationships out west. Oh, how I was wrong. 

The trees present on Kenyon’s campus boast confidence and regality that is difficult to find elsewhere. I’m not sure if these traits are passed from the college to the trees, but there is a deep-rooted richness in their core. I had never been an avid tree climber before Kenyon and I am convinced that it is the alluring nature of the trees on this campus that drew me into this wonderful art form. 

The Art of Tree Climbing

I like to think that tree climbing is one of the more intimate ways to connect with nature. When climbing you put immense trust into the tree by letting its branches guide and support you. As you climb you develop a relationship with the tree; paying close attention to the leaves and branches; encountering the insects that make their homes in its bark. You become a careful visitor in another ecosystem. Dancing with the tree as you ascend, you are able to get close and admire it in an incredibly intimate way. Once you reach the top (or height you desire) you are able to view the world from a completely new perspective, the tree’s perspective. You hear the leaves brushing together, the wind gently swaying the branches, all while perched near the trunk that keeps you rooted in the earth.

Introduction of Kenyon Trees to Climb

I am by no means an expert on all the trees of Kenyon’s campus, I am simply here to compile a short list of the first few trees I would recommend climbing. This article is meant to help students start their tree climbing endeavors and I cannot wait to see more scholars take to the trees. All this being said, climb at your own risk. 

The Beech Tree 

When talking with my friends about writing this article they all told me I needed to include the Beech tree. It does hold a prominent place in Kenyon’s identity, located directly behind the admissions office and just to the left of Pierce, it is a tree that draws in both visitors and students. With low-reaching branches and plenty of leaf cover, the Beech offers a safe and largely secluded place to start your climbing journey. Yet, it lacks the height, adventure, and complexity that other trees on campus hold.  

Rugby Pitch Tree

Off the beaten path, there is a lone tree on the rugby pitch. For those of you unfamiliar with its location, the pitch is on the southeast corner of Kenyon’s property and is home to one of my favorite trees on campus. Last fall was quite a strange time to be introduced to Kenyon, but I ended up finding a temporary home with Rugby Club. I met many of my close friends through rugby and have many fond memories of the pitch, this tree being one of them. I would often climb up during breaks in practice and lay like a sloth in its branches. This tree is amazing to climb because of the prime limb distribution. With sturdy branches, you can make it a decent way up and still feel totally comfortable and supported. It also offers many forked branches that allow you to sprawl out in, balancing your back on the split of the branch and laying your arms on both of the branches on your sides (this was my favorite position). I truly think this is one of the more underrated trees on campus, but I am a bit biased. Although it lacks height, you still get a decent way of the ground and have a great view of the pitch and the other sports fields. It also provides spectacular lounging options and a moderate difficulty level.   

Large Pine Between PEirce and Ascension

I have to give a shout-out to Ulysses, class of ‘23, for this recommendation. I had never paid much attention to this Pine until this past weekend, but it is now one of my favorite climbing trees on campus. The location of this beautiful Pine is to the right of the front entrance to Peirce. If you walk south on the sidewalk towards Ascension/Leonard you will pass this Pine on your left, once you’re looking for it you won’t miss it. The branches are beautifully placed, a trait most pines possess, therefore allowing for a swift gain of height with relative ease. Climbing this tree is almost like climbing a ladder, and because of its intense height, you can get to the level of Ascension in a minute. Once you find a perch you are comfortable with you can engage in amazing people watching, for you get all of the Peirce foot traffic. You also feel like a squirrel or bird because of your angled view over Peirce’s lawn and entryway. There is some sap to watch out for, but otherwise, I was thoroughly impressed with this tree experience. Although the descent down may seem daunting, because of the plentiful branches, as long as you take it slow, there is no need to fear falling.

Let the Tree Speak to You

I know I only gave three examples, but I want to ensure that I allow you to explore the trees on campus in your own time. I hope this article, although short, was able to provide you some guidance in tree climbing. I highly encourage you to go out and find trees that speak to you, I assure you Kenyon has plenty to choose from.

Hey, I'm Libby and I write cool articles. Take a gander and learn some new facts.