It was a tough decision but once it was made, Joel Allen just knew his HemLoft was going to the right place.
The famous little tree fort in the forest off Kadenwood Drive has been removed and entrusted to Allan Crawford of Canadian Wilderness Adventures (CWA). The tour company operator wanted the HemLoft from the moment he heard its creator wanted to give away the structure, which was built on Crown Land.
Allen built the loft using reclaimed material that didn't cost him anything. The bulk of the building materials was found via Craigslist in a section of the Internet website where people post details of items they want to give away. He announced earlier this month that he wanted to give the loft away to someone who would relocate it and care for it. Offers started pouring in and some of the offers included money, so Allen said he decided to accept money for the structure with a promise that half of what he got for it would be donated to a charitable Whistler organization.
While driving back to his home in Salmon Arm on Tuesday, April 23 Allen said he felt good about the HemLoft now being in Crawford's possession.
"I actually feel tremendously relieved to be able to unburden myself from the inherent liabilities of building something on Crown land and allowing access to it," said Allen while his wife Heidi drove. "I feel really good about it."
Allen has handed off his project, which brought him a significant amount of attention, as he and his wife get set for the arrival of their baby in early June.
Crawford said he and about 10 members of the CWA staff helped Allen take the HemLoft down over the course of Sunday and Monday (April 21 and 22). The CWA staff members packed the materials out along the trail to the road while Allen and his friends pulled apart the structure.
"It was a very difficult and dangerous process dismantling it," said Allen. "The ribs are heavy and unwieldy and you are very exposed on the edge."
Crawford said the wood is all stored nicely awaiting reassembly in the Callaghan Valley.
"Without Joel it's just a pile of wood," said Crawford of the father-to-be. "It will depend on how his life evolves.
"There's not a person in the world that could put that together without Joel."
Allen is going to be part of the effort to put the HemLoft back together, with slight modifications, said Crawford. He added that he still has to put some thought into exactly where the HemLoft will be located within the CWA tenure.
"It was good being in the forest all that time with it and seeing how much work it is to build. I know a lot more about it now," the new owner the HemLoft said.
Crawford and Allen haven't settled on a purchase price yet, but both men said that detail would be worked out.
According to Crawford, the structure had to come down for a number of reasons, including the fact that the towing company contracted to monitor Kadenwood Drive was towing any vehicles found parked on the private road leading up to the homes at the top of Kadenwood Drive.
"It was like a little pot of gold the towing company had created," joked Crawford. "The towing company made more money off that building than anybody will."
Allen said his truck was towed on April 18. Other visitors to the HemLoft who parked on the road while they ducked into the forest to see the famous structure returned to discover their vehicles were gone as well.
That won't be an issue once the egg-shaped building is reconstructed in its new home where it will be maintained and visited regularly.
Allen said once his current project in Salmon Arm is completed he wants to find his next adventure in a mountain town. When asked if he'd take on building another similar structure again he said no.
"(But) if you asked me a year from now I'd say, 'Probably,'" Allen said with a laugh.