Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sleeping Inside A Redwood Tree

 I have a confession to make. Not long ago, I was exploring a portion of redwood forest when I came across an incredible tree. This tree was massive, I can only estimate its age at 1500 or 2000 years old. It had a fire cave like many redwoods I have seen before. Only this cave was immense. And flat. I've never seen a fire cave as flat as this one. Usually they are uneven, piles of debris lying here and there. When I peaked inside, the first thought I had was "I've got to sleep in here tonight." The moment the thought popped in my mind, I was filled with fear. "Don't do that, that's weird," my mind told me. "What's wrong with you?"

Not one to give into fear, or one that particularly cares what other people think about me, a battle of conscience occurred the rest of the afternoon. "Should I do it?" "Don't do it you freak!" "Do you have permission?" "Has the tree given you permission?"

I texted a buddy of mine and posed the dilemma to him. The response I received was "Mark, you need to get laid." Perhaps he had a point, but as evening came, I overcame my fear and set up camp inside the redwood. 
When I stepped inside, all sound from the outside world ceased. It was noticeably cooler inside. The ground inside the tree was probably three feet lower than the ground outside the tree. The sky had not darkened, so I watched the remaining light dissipate through the caves entrance.
I wish I could say I had a positive spiritual experience of some sort, but to be honest, I immediately became spooked. My mind was racing, and I was battling something, some sort of internal fear or claustrophobia or something. There were bats flying in and out of the redwood cave, and I was watching them move around on the ceiling inside. The bats didn't bother me, in fact I enjoyed the company believe it or not. I became spooked by the scenarios of the tree crashing in on me while I was sleeping. The tree is probably in its last 5-10% of its remaining time on earth as a live, standing being. I imagined surviving the initial crash, only to have to tunnel my way out in complete darkness, or being buried alive. I started to worry about the cold musty air I was breathing, the possibility of getting sick from bat dung. I wondered if the tree did not appreciate my being there, invading its space. I wondered if there were ghosts inside. I'm sure someone else has slept in here before. As you can see, I was not in a good mental place to enjoy this new experience. Finally, just as I was calming my nerves and drifting off to sleep, it felt like someone started pulling my arm. In fact, my arm starting twitching uncontrollably for some reason. "That's it, get out!" my mind ordered. I bolted up, packed up my stuff, and made a bee line for the creek that was 100 yards away or so. After setting up camp next to the creek, I felt better immediately. It occurred to me that almost every time I've camped in the redwoods, I unconsciously camp in the transition zone as close to the creek as possible, as if I don't belong sleeping under the big trees. Usually, as soon as I wake up, I will lay down under them and watch the sun come in. Maybe that's the way its supposed to be for now...


  1. There's a reason why we moved out of the caves and built homes to live in!

  2. This sounds like that guy who thought it was a great idea to live with a bunch of grizzly bears...that is until they ripped him to shreds and ate him. Like the honey badger, the grizzlies don't give a sh*t. Neither does the tree. It would have remorselessly fallen on you if you stayed inside. That's just how it works.

  3. Thanks Michael, you made my morning! Skyhiker, I'm on a quest to rediscover reason I guess!

  4. Obviously, I'll never have a cool experience like sleeping inside a tree with my attitude! Then again, I was the one who used to fall out of them all the time in Charleston every time I decided to take a chance and try to climb higher like everyone else. I learned my lessons the hard way!

  5. I'm sure someone has slept in there before, but hollowed out redwoods alongside a trail are most often used as toilets.