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Treeline: The Film

When we move through the forest in winter, we’re often left wonderstruck by snow-shrouded trees bent and morphed from years of wear in silent solitude.
Treeline: The Film

Treeline: The Film

Their depth of character becomes evident as we weave ourselves into their lives and ecosystems. But we often tell our stories and not theirs. Our new film Treeline follows skiers and snowboarders as they move through three extraordinary forest landscapes across Japan, British Columbia, and Nevada, exploring the connection between humans and our oldest living companions. This essay is part one of a four-part series.



Trees are intertwined with human existenceÑthrough religion, in times of war, in standing for what weÕll fight to protect, with our hopes and wishes that we share. They stand implanted in our own history. ThereÕs a whole world of legendary trunks out there, like the Bodhi Tree in IndiaÑthe canopy under which Prince Siddhartha transformed into the Buddha. The Wishing Tree in Portland, OregonÑa horse chestnut that boasts the written hopes of both locals and visitors, who tie notecards to its branches until theyÕre whisked away by wind and rain. The Hiroshima Bonsai, one of the oldest bonsai in the world, that survived the atomic bomb in a nursery just two miles from the epicenter. Luna, the coastal redwood that Julia Butterfly Hill occupied for 738 days starting in 1997 to protect her from being cut by the Pacific Lumber Company.*

Alex Yoder rides the line in a secret spot outside Niseko. Hokkaido, Japan. Photo: Garrett Grove

But a tree canÕt vocalize or write itself into our records: We must assign them importance, even though they always stand taller, grander, and very often, longer than us. ThereÕs a necessary humility that arises from simply noticing our barked, gnarled and rooted companions.

When we travel in winter through the forest, we are passing through the treesÕ homes and communities, weaving ourselves into their lives and ecosystems, but we often tell our stories and not theirs. What about the intersection of us and the trees? Is it enough just to recognize that theyÕre there? Does this gesture make us a symbiont of the woody tribe?

Snowboarding or skiing through the trees is a lifeline, providing refuge for winter days when the alpine snowpack is sketchy. ItÕs pure joy. ItÕs powdery cruising in December when itÕs dark at 3:30 p.m. and youÕve had your hood up all dayÑhooting and hollering through birch, spruce, cedar, and pineÑfinding pillows to launch along the way. Forests can be a giddy, expansive playground and serious haven of safety, both at the same time. When we ride through a forest, we have a fleeting opportunity to notice how trees influence us, to understand how they redefine our own winter-loving lives.

*From Wise Trees, by Diane Cook and Len Jenshel, 2017, Abrams, New York.

Treeline film- tour coming soon.

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Emerald (she/her) is an outdoor writer, white- water and fly-fishing guide and community builder based in rural Idaho. Her work has appeared in The Flyfish Journal, DUN Magazine, OARS blog, Outdoor Research blog and more.

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