di Julian Earwaker
Speaker: Chuck Rolando (Standard American accent)
There are trees everywhere in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. Some of these trees, such as the “old-growth” giants, are hundreds of years old. The forests are home to a diverse range of wildlife: insects, birds, mammals large and small and the occasional human…
On the edge of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington State a huge cedar tree rises tall above a clear stream. And high up in its branches is a large wooden treehouse. Surrounded by dramatic mountains and dark green forests, this has been home to musician Bill Compher for more than 25 years:
This an old-growth cedar, it’s well over 200 years old, an arborist told me, and the old way up is up the two-by-four ladder – you can see the ladder going up the trunk. And we don’t use that any more, but that used to be the original access. And I built the treehouse in the summers of 1981 and ‘82 – it took two summers – and did most of the construction by myself just because I couldn’t find anybody to help me, or, if I could, they didn’t want to work that high up. So I kind of got stuck with most of the labor.
Originally from East Tennessee, Bill Compher, 57, has always loved the mountains. So when, in 1976, he had the chance to buy a plot of land in the rainforest near spectacular Mount Rainier National Park, he couldn’t resist. Even without mains electricity, his mountain hideaway was the perfect place to raise a family. The main family home was built at ground level, but Bill found that it was only natural to climb the surrounding trees. He came down one day with the idea of building a treehouse. The result was the Cedar Creek Treehouse: a comfortable, fully equipped timber home, 16 metres above the ground. 10 years ago the Comphers opened it as a bed and breakfast.
The original access route was a simple vertical ladder – and you needed a good head for heights to climb it! But today’s visitors have it easy: there is a solid five-storey staircase, complete with a special room with a view, as Bill Compher explains:
This observation room we’re in here, we’re facing south, so it’s great stargazing at night, you can sit out here and look at the stars or the clouds during the day.