Nestled within a private 7-acre property that lies about 5 minutes outside of the town of Mount Joy is a unique and cozy treehouse. Young and old enjoy treehouses, but there are very few treehouses that can serve as vacation getaways, and even fewer that have been built to celebrate the Lord of the Rings.
Blake Ringenberg, who co-owns Gethsemane Counseling and Coaching Services with his wife, Gretchen, was the one who dreamed up the idea of the rustic, Lothlorien-inspired treehouse. When walking their property several years ago, they noticed the potential of a giant forked tree. Since the counseling service needed an office space, Ringenberg soon found himself swept up in designing and building the two-story treehouse.
The building stands well above the ground, accessible by a gently inclined ramp with rope railings, and has been assessed by an engineer to ensure its structural integrity. Thousands of structural fasteners and plenty of hurricane straps went into it to make the treehouse liveable and safe regardless of weather and wear. “It was a nice balance between science and art,” Ringenberg explained in an interview with The Lancaster Patriot.
The treehouse is made of mostly recycled and repurposed materials, and it is filled with Lord of the Rings-themed decorations and merchandise, like Monopoly and chess, for any adventurous fan who is looking for a holiday.
Ringenberg said that although the inspiration for the treehouse just came to him, fueling him with the motivation to carry out the project, it took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to make the treehouse a reality. “If you get a vision or idea, it’s not going to be happy-clappy. You’re still going to have to sacrifice and work and get yourself through it,” he said. “I think I learned a lot through this, and I’m thankful that I was able to continue to stick with it and we were able to pull it off.”
He said that his wife supported him in building the treehouse, even though he believes that she was at times frustrated by how much of his time it took up. “We joked and called the treehouse ‘the other woman’ for a while,” he explained. “But I assured her I wasn’t having an affair with a silver maple tree. We had little kids at the time, and I think she wished she could’ve helped out more with the project.”
For anyone interested in glamping or experiencing what it’s like to live like a squirrel, the treehouse is a fun place to vacation. Although it’s off the grid, the treehouse has electricity through solar and wind power, so visitors can enjoy amenities like television, Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and a mini fridge for food and drinks. There is a full outdoor kitchen, an outdoor shower, and an indoor bathroom. The treehouse has skylights, an indoor fireplace, a ladder-accessible loft with bunk beds, and decks on both the first story and the second. Outside of the treehouse is a firepit, room for camping on the ground, outdoor games and other fun activities to enjoy — guests can even request a Gandalf fireworks show. Little Chiques Creek runs right next to the property, so guests can enjoy the peaceful sounds of nature in the semi-secluded space or spend some time fishing with supplies provided by the Ringenbergs.
The treehouse can sleep up to four people, and from April through November it can be rented through the vacation rental websites Airbnb and Hipcamp. Due to safety concerns, the treehouse is not recommended for children under the age of 8. During the off season, the treehouse serves as a meeting area for Ringenberg’s counseling center, which is also located on the property.
Although building a giant treehouse might seem a bit over the top or unnecessary to some, Ringenberg has deeply enjoyed the effort and the results. He encourages others to also chase down the ideas they have, even ones that seem a bit crazy. “If you thought, felt, heard, got caught by an idea, sit with it and don’t just brush it off as silly or insignificant,” he said. “Try to roll with it, and do something with it, take care of it. You know, it’s almost like something that was given to you that you now steward.” He hopes that the magical setting provided by the treehouse can help others tap into their creative energies and pursue their own ideas, even if they are a bit unorthodox or might seem ridiculous at first glance.
For those interested in renting the treehouse, visit hipcamp.com/en-US/land/pennsylvania-lothlorien-tree-house-v1qhe10r/sites/695547 or airbnb.com/rooms/36378060.