An expert tree-climber and wildlife cameraman introduces readers to a handful of his favorite trees and related adventures.
Aldred has vast filming experience with National Geographic and other outfits, and his specialty is climbing massive trees to set up blinds or just get the shot that a particular scene demands. Here, the author highlights 10 serious climbs—from England to Borneo to the Congo to Costa Rica to Morocco to Peru—detailing the lengths he and his colleagues have gone to arrange for such shoots. Each chapter is a stand-alone story in its own right, with drama, shocks, grimy interludes, and unparalleled views. While Aldred is clearly obsessed with trees, he also respects them greatly and takes all the caution necessary to climb trees that sometimes reach more than 300 feet. The book wouldn’t be complete without the author’s facing plenty of physical and mental challenges, including cerebral malaria, maggots crawling under his skin, and trying to get a footing on the perfect, thorn-laden branch to get a photo of a harpy eagle nesting—as its mother attempts to poke at his eyes. Aldred does two things particularly well: He avoids being unnecessarily macho, and he pauses to commune with the trees and to appreciate their history and the sanctuary he finds in their sky-high branches. “Whether the soft shimmering glow of a beech canopy in springtime, or the vast sun-blasted canopy of a tropical giant,” he writes, “each tree has a unique character, and it is the privileged feeling of getting to know them a little better—of physically connecting with them, if only for a short while—that draws me back into their branches time and time again.” Truly connecting with these behemoths might mean encounters with dangerous creatures or the pleasure of admiring a gorgeous poison-dart frog carrying its tadpoles on its back “high up into the canopy to deposit them within water-filled bromeliads.”
An addictive book for nature lovers.