A woman lived on a 55-meter-tall redwood for 738 days in an effort to keep loggers from cutting down the 1500-year-old tree

Stefan Andrews
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Being a person whose father’s job demanded a lot of traveling and moving around, Julia “Butterfly” Hill was able to spend many of her childhood days moving from place to another along with her family.

However, none of those places made as nearly an exciting place to stay in, as her two-year stay on a tree.

In 1997, Julia took a road trip to California, following a recovery from a severe car crash that almost took away her life. During that time, she was to attend a reggae fundraiser which purposed to fundraise money for saving significant forest areas from clearcutting. An environment group was often rotating tree-sitters in and out of the giant redwoods in the Humboldt County, in order to protect the trees from the Pacific Lumber Co. loggers who were conducting clearcut in the area.

At one moment, the fundraiser organizers needed a person to stay in one of the trees for a week, and as there were no other volunteers, it was Hill who signed up. To everyone’s surprise, she spent not one week, but full two years of tree-sitting.

Before this event, Hill was not involved by any means in any environmental movements, but she had decided by herself to take on this little sweet act of civil disobedience. On December 10th, 1997, Julia climbed up a 55-meters-tall redwood tree; the tree was named Luna, and it remained to be Julia’s home until December 18th, 1999.

Photo of Julia Hill in 2006 – By Carl-John Veraja – CC BY-SA 2.0

Very quickly, Julia was backed up by some environmental groups as well as individuals who supported the cause of protecting the ancient trees. It took about 90 minutes for them to get the provisions up to the top of the tree. She then climbed up herself and, being exhausted, started looking for a place to collapse.

For astounding 738 days, Hill lived on 1.8 by 1.8-meter platforms. During the time on the redwood tree, Julia survived almost everything: from forces of nature to attempted threatenings by angry tree-loggers. She survived freezing rains and winds as harsh as 64 km per hour, and moreover, a helicopter harassment and a ten-day siege by company security guards.

Julia virtually became an “in-tree” correspondent for a cable television show and encouraged further resistance and protests towards clearcutting of old trees. By using a solar-powered cell phone, she also provided some radio interviews too. She was hoisted up survival supplies with ropes by a support crew, and to keep herself warm during cold nights, she wrapped herself tightly in a sleeping bag, having only a small opening for breathing.

Essentially, she had just enough of time to learn all the surviving skills in the world.

The Simpson-Reed Grove of Coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens). U.S. Route 199 in California, the Redwood Highway, at Jedediah Smith State Park near Crescent City, CA . – By Acroterion – CC BY-SA 3.0

In 1999, a final solution was reached among the environment protectors and the Pacific Lumber Co. which agreed on saving Luna and the surrounding area.

Once this solution was brought up, Julia agreed to abandon the tree. The environmental organization Earth First!  had also collected $50,000 by this time, a sum that they had agreed to pay to the Pacific Lumber as part of the agreement to spare the trees. The money was then donated to the Humboldt State University as a contribution to the research on sustainable forestry.

The whereabouts of the giant redwood Luna did not stop there. Nearly a year after the tree was vacated by Julia, a huge gash was discovered in the tree, which was measured 32 inches deep and 5.8 meters around the base; the proportions of the cut were little less than half the perimeter of the tree.

Photo from the Humboldt Redwoods State Park in 2008. The mesmerizing trees are giving the effect of “darkness at noon.”

However, the wound of the tree was treated with herbal remedies, and the trunk was stabilized with steel cables. Luna was saved once again, this time from a terrible attack done by vandals.

Read another story from us: Woman Missing for 10 Years Found Living in Internet Cafe

In 2000, Julia also published a book entitled The Legacy of Luna. Written as a diary, the book recollects the two years spent in the ancient redwood.

In case you were seeking some inspiration today, we hope that this story touched you and did the trick for you!