July 22, 2014
The Cinder Cone
Throughout my travels, I reference the area I grew up in, the Columbia River Gorge, as a yardstick to measure a place’s charm and beauty. After three years of living out of my camper, I’ve decided to set up a seasonal home base a stone’s throw from my childhood stomping ground. Informed by my time living in the modest space of my VW and Toyota camper, and inspired by the work of friends like Jay Nelson, Tucker Gorman, Trevor Gordon and Lloyd Khan, I decided to follow up on a lifelong dream and build a tree house.
I started working on ideas and plans with my long time friend, Tucker Gorman, in January for a cabin on piece of property owned by my family in the Columbia River Gorge. The plans developed from a lone 200 square foot cabin to multitree house and finally settled on a studio suspended between two Douglas Firs connected via suspension bridge to an octagonal cabin, 35 feet off of the ground. Although competent working with wood and design, we needed help with the logistics and engineering behind tree house building and turned to family friends, Michael Garnier. Michael is a pioneer in the world of structures in trees and came up with the Garnier Limb, a large metal bolt that a tree grows around and strengthens over time. He told us what was possible given the trees we have, large second-growth Douglas Firs, and plans were finalized.
The idea of building tree houses in the rain didn’t appeal to any of us, so we decided to wait until summer to break ground. One month ago, a crew of tree house pros installed the platforms and handed the project off to Tucker, myself and a group of friends. We’ve been hard at work for the last month and are shooting for completion during September. I’ve been documenting the build on my Instagram and on The Cinder Cone’s site and hope to put up a zine with photos of the build from myself and others that stop by and work on the project.
The Grateful Goats. Two Soay sheep and three goats have been munching blackberries all summer.
Taco time after a long day of working on the the tree houses.
Looking west towards Portland, the night after work started on the trees.
Dean cleaning out the wood-burning hot tub.
Locally grown and milled 3×12′s for the foundation of the hot tub and the staircase stringers.
Rigging equipment and supplies.
Tucker lowering a limb and making way for the 16-foot octagon.
Stacking wood in the locust-framed shed.
Burning out a Douglas Fir log for a bath tub/dunk dank.
Trimming a 4×4 for a timber framed bunk bed.
Setting the glulams for the 28×16 foot platform.
Ian Weedman and his mobile tree-house building shop.
Organizing supplies for the summer.
The last month has passed in a blur as days of waking up balled in a sleeping bag, drinking coffee and climbing into the trees to work turn in to weeks. After long days, I fall asleep thinking about the day’s work and curious what will come the next.
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