“I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else.”
When my cousin Stephen and I were about fifteen and sixteen, respectively, we decided to build a treehouse near my aunt and uncle’s cabin at Incline Lake above Lake Tahoe.
We asked if it was all right to do so, and they said no. Earlier in the summer, or perhaps it was the summer before, the fort that some of our tribe built mysteriously caught on fire. So we understood their concern, and built it where they couldn’t see it.
Searching for a site to build, we found the perfect spot about 200 yards west of the bend in the road that curved around Incline Lake. An unusual pine tree sprung forth four tall trunks that made an ideal framework for our masterpiece. Stephen and I had built many forts above and below ground over the years, but this one was the best with a floor that began fifteen feet above ground. We even had a secret entrance, which in hindsight wasn’t so secret, since our camouflaged two-by-four steps, once discovered, led right to it.
Building supplies came from behind the barn, inside the caretaker’s shed and from remnants of the fallen-down shack that we called Trevor’s cabin. We even came up with a couple windows, shingles and dark green paint. We painted only the side that faced the lake to hide it from anyone walking by on the road.
We began with an eight-by-eight square-floored treehouse, but found it a bit cramped. So, we added an extension another ten feet out to a neighboring tree. Then we figured, why not add a second story? We shingled the roof and painted the interior as well.
Eventually, word got out, and we were surprised that my aunt and uncle weren’t mad and even admired our handiwork. That freed us up to spend many nights “camped out” in the treehouse–for what teenage boy would choose a comfortable bed, when sleeping on a wood floor fifteen feet in the air was an option? Among cousins and friends we easily slept four or more.
Back then it wasn’t exactly a work of art, but it sure is now after forty years of Mother Nature massaging it into place. If you look closely, you can still see some of our dark green steps leading up the trunk of the tree to our homemade teenage hangout.
To see a picture of the treehouse in its original splendor, click here.