I lived 180ft up a tree – I didn’t touch the ground for two YEARS and only had a solar-powered phone for company | The Sun

A WOMAN spent over two years living in a giant 1500-year-old redwood tree called Luna.

For 738 days between December 1997 to December 1999 Julia “Butterfly” Hill stayed in the tree’s canopy, 180ft in the air.

She had agreed to “tree sit” at a festival she went to when she was only 23-years-old.

The tree she lived in only had two six by six platforms in it to support her weight.

She was given a solar powered phone to use while on Luna so she could document her journey to the media.

Volunteers regularly hiked almost three miles up the mountain, that the tree sat on, to deliver Julia food and supplies.


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Over the two years Hill was harassed by helicopters, threatened by loggers and had to stay in the tree through all kinds of weather.

The worst being an El Nino storm that was one of the harshest seen in California with high winds and rain storms leaving Julia cold and wet for days.

She told TreeSisters that sometimes the “discomfort and fear left her sobbing in the fetal position."

For food, she had a single burner propane stove with her and slept in a sleeping bag.

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The nickname Butterfly has stuck with Julia since one of the pretty insects landed on her finger when out on a hike and stayed there until she got home.

After having a serious car accident in her twenties Julia had a revelation that her life had been out of balance.

She said: "I had been obsessed by my career, success and material things.

“The crash woke me up to the importance of the moment and doing whatever I could to make a positive impact on the future."

After recovering from the accident she went to a Reggae festival where she connected with a group of "tree sitters" on the northern California coast.

They were protesting the clear-cut logging of redwood trees by the Pacific Lumber Company.

In 1997 the cutting down of ancient trees was becoming a huge problem with only 3% of ancient redwood ecosystem remaining across America.

After looking into the economic disaster further Julia knew she had to help make a change.

She sat in the tree, originally expecting to be up there for one to two weeks like many activists were in the 1990’s not aware of the impact her act was going to have.

After a long period of negotiations Julia agreed to come down from Luna after agreeing that the tree would be permanently protected and a near three acre buffer zone would be put in around the tree.

The stunt also raised awareness of the lack of trees left standing in America.

When Julia came down she was a national hero and quickly became recognised for the memorable protest.

Since the tree sit, Hill has become a motivational speaker, a best-selling author, and the co-founder of the Circle of Life Foundation and the non-profit Engage Network.

She’s won numerous prestigious awards and distinctive honours making Julia "Butterfly" Hill one of the most internationally recognizable figures in environmental activism.

She also acts as a strategic advisor for numerous other organizations and has addressed the United Nations, lobbied congress, and continued to stand on the front lines of environmental and social justice issues all over the world.

During Hill’s protest another person was refusing to let a redwood tree be cut down by loggers.


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Nate Madsen, a 25-year-old student from Humboldt County, California stayed in a tree threatening to be sawed down but ended up living in it for two years.

The 200ft tree was named Mariah after famous song They Call The Wind Mariah from the musical Paint Your Wagon.

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