Walking down cliffs

Published by Erica on

I am afraid of heights. Sometimes if I’m on a higher floor and there’s not much of a barrier at the edge I’ll get a funny feeling, something between fear and fascination of falling. Mostly fear. I don’t even like the high dive. I have jumped off some cliffs before, but they were pretty tame and I have no desire to continue doing that. So, I was rather surprised when I got talked into going rappelling. At night. Down an 80 foot cliff.

Did I mention I’ve never gone rappelling before?

What on earth convinced me to do such a risky, scary, exciting task? A boy. A boy named Logan, to be specific. Chad, you would like him. He likes mountain biking. We left at who knows when… sometime between 10 and 11 pm. Logan has made the hike to the rappelling site several times, although mostly during the day. We went up Rock Canyon Park and hiked back to the area. It’s a pretty nice path up to the trail-head, which was good since we were mostly using moonlight, starlight, and Provo-light. Then we started climbing the mountain. For the most part it was your average mountain trail hike, although towards the end we had to actually climb up rocks/boulders. I’m glad I’m a dancer! By this time we had a flashlight out and Logan would go ahead, I’d watch his path, then he’d pause and shine the light for me to follow. There were a couple times that it was sheer leg power pulling me up. I’m sure I didn’t look very graceful but… that’s okay. Sometimes it’s endearing to be a little awkward.

Well we finally got to the almost top, stopped on the level area, and geared up into our harnesses and helmets. Yes mom, we wore helmets just in case we hit the rocks or something. And yes, I asked if he’s an Eagle Scout because he’s so well-prepared: he is. So we’re all geared up and hike a few more feet to the top and over to the edge. I was getting pretty nervous, just because I don’t like heights all that much. I had to come down one particular boulder and I was basically going down blind. Logan was below me kinda guiding my foot coming down, but I had such a huge stretch going from the top ledge where my right foot was, to my left foot searching eagerly for solid ground. Again, grateful to be a dancer.

At this point Logan hooked us into the wall with the daisy chains. Basically, those are about 2-3 foot long lines that keep you from plunging to a premature death if you slip, etc, while prepping the rappelling lines. I was keeping a very tight grip on my daisy chain, loving the solid rock behind and beneath me. While Logan was getting the ropes out and fed through, he did something really cute. He gave me the camera to distract myself. I honestly felt like a little kid who needed to be entertained or distracted so the adult could accomplish something useful. Not that I was bothering him, but I think he knew it would help me to not focus on the black gulf we were going into. I took one HORRIBLE picture of myself, and unfortunately didn’t know how to delete on his camera. I was trying to capture my fear/excitement, but mostly it looks like I’m gnashing my teeth in a hideous way. I need to make sure he deletes that.

Well, you can only prep lines for so long, and so it soon came time for me to head down. Logan demonstrated again how I needed to hold the lines so I didn’t plunge to a grisly death, then it was photo-op time! He got some shots of me, then one or two of us on the edge. Then he spoke those words: “lean backwards.” I was in position on the rock, my hands were ready, and I found it remarkably easy to simply lean back. Another picture, showcasing my bravery despite the black abyss, and then it was time to let the rope move. I loosened my death grip on the rope and began to lower. Slowly. I’m sure once I have more practice I’ll go faster, but I took my sweet time going down the first 5o feet.

After the first 50 there is a ledge, where you unhook and use a different mount to descend the final thirty. I off-belayed, Logan came down, and he pulled down the rope and got it hooked into the new bolts. I went down first again, but this second section wasn’t as awesome as the first one. The first section was just an easy, straight down walk. The second section had boulders, placed unevenly, so every now and then I’d lose my footing and have nothing to brace myself on, sending me swinging into the walls. I had a few hits, but nothing too hard. There was one instance, though, where I went to put out my right hand to help me…. meaning I let go of the important half of the rope. I immediately felt the slack and realized what I had done. I clutched the top rope with my left hand, holding myself while my right hand found and grabbed the low rope. Talk about getting your heart rate up! I made it the rest of the way down pretty well.

It was such a beautiful night! I love the mountains, and being out in nature. I wish we could have ended it with camping, although for a myriad of reasons that was more than a little impractical. The stars were gorgeous; when I was came down the first section I paused and leaned way back so I could gaze up and look for constellations. I wasn’t quite oriented the right way, but it was incredible anyways. We finished hiking off the mountain and back to the main path. I must say, my knee does not like going downhill. I was really glad I’d put my brace on, because the downward motion was really bothering it. We drove out of the gloriousness of the night, returning to Mountainwood around 1 am. After dropping off the gear at Logan’s apartment, he came over to mine for some of my ice cream dessert that I’d made for work. He enjoyed it, we talked some more (since we’d been talking all night) and then it was the witching hour. Oh, but before that, he took his dish to the sink and started rinsing it off, then went to mine as well! I hardly knew what to say, besides “you don’t have to do that” and “thanks” when he kept doing it. So, the witching hour.

Now, I don’t know if what we did was an official date. He did do most of the initiating in the process, and it was just the two of us. We get along quite well so far, have fun things to talk about, and I think it’s safe to say we both had a fabulous time. So comes the doorstep scene. From inside the house. He put his shoes on, saying how much fun he had and what a good time it was and thanks and all that. I returned the sentiments as he finished and stood up. Then, I saw his brain think for a split second. It was the moment where you either open the door and leave, stick your hand out for a handshake, or go in for a hug. I saw him think, then he came in for the hug. What a great hug!!! Ok, maybe I just need to be hugged more. But it was very nice, either way. I hope we have a real/official date one of these days! I hope that me being myself was not a deterrent. And if nothing more comes of it…. then I totally did something I never even thought about before. Hooray for conquering fears and trying new adventures.

And hooray for cute boys with great powers of persuasion.
(I’ll try and post pics once I get them from Logan).

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1 Comment

Michelle · May 19, 2009 at 3:47 pm

haha Isn’t it amazing what you will try for a cute boy? 🙂 Sounds like you had a great time! Hopefully there is a second date soon. I’d classify that as a date for sure!

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