Disclaimer: I am currently on Vicadin ES, so the coherence of the following blog may or may not be clear. I broke a rib yesterday while tree riding and I’ve gotten so many questions about it, I thought it would be a good subject to jump back into my blog with. Tree riding is when you climb a (20-30 foot) tree to the top where the trunk/main stem becomes thin and then lean out away from the tree toward the ground, kicking your feet out and letting your weight bend the tree, delivering you to the ground in an exhilarating ride. I’ve also jumped off the branch of a bigger tree grabbing the top of a smaller one nearby; same ride, just different approach.
The trick is to find a strong, healthy, supple tree (Red Maples and Oaks are best) that won’t snap under your weight and getting your feet out soon enough so you land standing up. I failed on both accounts yesterday and paid the consequences. Unfortunately, it’s hard to conclusively determine whether the tree is healthy or not in the winter, because all of the leaves are gone. So that was my first problem. But secondly, I got my feet tangled up in the small branches and didn’t get them kicked out soon enough after I started the bend and about halfway into the bend (about 15 feet in the air), the tree snapped and I fell face/chest down, landing hard and breaking my 5th rib on the left side. Ouch. I knew laying there on the ground, I had either cracked or broken a rib. I think Gideon, my chocolate lab, knew too. Not as agile as I once was.
Once I got back to the house, I did a little research on cracked and broken ribs and it seems that while there’s nothing they can do to treat rib injuries, its good to have an xray to make sure there are no further internal injuries. That meant I had to call my wife. But tree riding is one of those things I never got around to telling my wife that I did, and this turned out to be a less than optimal time to share. Later I tried to argue that there’s biblical precedence for tree riding, with less than favorable results.
The beginning of Luke 19 tells the delightful story of Zacchaeus, the vertically challenged man who was so eager to see Jesus, he climbed a tree so he could see over the crowd. When Jesus came to the tree where Zacchaeus had climbed, he told Zacchaeus to “come down immediately” (the NLT says come down quickly). That’s what tree riding is; it’s coming down quickly from a tree. See, it’s biblical. (Right, my wife wasn’t convinced either.) At least I didn’t try to use 2 Samuel 18:10: “I just saw Absalom hanging from an oak tree!”