Tree climber aims for the top branch

In this article with the Quad City Times, Josh Hodson, a certified arborist for Davey's Quad Cities office, talks about his passion for trees and competing in San Antonio at the International Tree Climbing Championship. 

Posted: April 2, 2016

By Jack Cullen

There’s a close-knit group of guys in the Quad-Cities who represent the new face of “tree huggers” — and they’re devoted to it.

“They’re kind of a different breed,” said Dan Roberson, a general foreman for Davey Tree Expert Co. in Bettendorf, who manages an 18-man utility line clearance crew.

A majority of the lot of tree trimmers drive pickups, snap#TreeSelfies and use words such as “gnarly” when they're tasked with clearing a branch away from a high-voltage power line. And several of them have equipped themselves with top-notch climbing gear and gadgets.

The leader of the pack, or perhaps the one with the most passion for his craft, 36-year-old Josh Hodson, is representing seven Midwestern states this weekend at the International Tree Climbing Championship in San Antonio.

The married father of four, who lives with his family in Bettendorf, has been trimming trees full time for the past 11 years. He began competing five years ago once he discovered the sport.

“I did a little rock climbing when I would travel, and mountain life has always fascinated me,” Hodson, a certified arborist, said. “But once I got old enough and had enough kids that (living in) Colorado was no longer a realistic dream, this became my passion.”

In San Antonio, he’ll square off against 41 of the top tree climbers in the world recognized by the International Society of Arboriculture at the 340-plus acre Brackenridge Park.

While Hodson does not have access to giant redwoods or sequoias, he practices on a monstrous burr oak tree that towers over his friend and colleague’s home off Lombard Street in Davenport.

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