Mad River Union
TRINIDAD – Tucked away up a backwoods dirt road in a Trinidad forest stands a house unique even by Humboldt County standards.
Sixty feet up, the two-level treehouse -dubbed a "Hippie Hideaway" by its builder –comes complete with a composting toilet and kitchen sink. It's not exactly the simple scrap-wood clubhouse of America’s childhood.
Floor to ceiling north-facing windows expose evergreen canopy branches of neighboring trees. The loft, accessible by means of a centrally located ladder, is a cozy nest of bedding and comfort.
The building breathes warmth, from the honey-colored paneling of the well-lit interior to a living centerpiece: the giant redwood that pushes through the loft level and out the ceiling another 50 feet towards the sky.
Built on private property outside of the town of Trinidad, the residence is the work of long-time treehouse builder Pete Nelson and his building crew, Nelson Treehouse and Supply.The Washington State company does initial construction at its building location in Fall City, Washington before the 25 percent pre-manufactured structures are transported to their awaiting trees to finish the job.
With a keen interest in sustainability, Nelson identifies potential resources available at each final location, a skill he said goes way back. “No one had money to build tree houses when they were little, but they found a way to do it anyway,” said Nelson. “Recycling is part of the fun.”
Twenty-five years ago, Nelson started the business, taking on tree house building full-time in 2005.
Today, Nelson and his company work with Discovery Channel’s Animal Planet to create Treehouse Masters, a television show highlighting houses that celebrate childhood and function with adult standards of living.
While Nelson explains that most of the structures built are used as guest rooms, studios or hang out spaces, some, like the Trinidad tree house, are equipped with running water and mini kitchens and used as full-time residences.
“I think tree houses are an incredible space for adults to reconnect with nature,” said Nelson. “As an adult, sometimes it is hard to put aside time to read, relax and spend time in a comfortable space that makes you truly happy.”
While Nelson admits that the woodsy, elevated structures are not for everyone, the hunt for new clients is well worth it. “I love the traveling and meeting the people who want this kind of thing done,” said Nelson. “Clients call me, and I’m the guy who’s going to facilitate their dream.”
At 51, Nelson hopes to continue his career in professional tree house building as long as he has clients. “I’ve been accused of being Peter Pan. As long as I can, I’m doing it,” said Nelson.
Treehouse Masters airs Fridays at 10 p.m. PST.