Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The One Where I Went Rappelling

The difference between a mountain and a molehill is your perspective. –Al Neuharth.

Saturday, May 11, 2014
7:00 am: Why do all adventures have to start so early?

7:52 am: Why am I always late? I was supposed to be there 7 minutes ago. It's a good thing we all run on Mormon Standard Time.

8:16 am: I wasn't the only one who was late. But we are on our way. It is a 2½-ish hour drive. Good thing I took my Dramamine and brought a project to stitch on. And I'm so glad I'm not driving.
{The blue star is our starting point and the blue dot is the destination — Black Dragon Canyon in the San Rafael Swell}

10:48 am: Rest stop. One thing I really dislike about Nature is the lack of flushing toilets. But an outhouse is better than going behind a bush. I guess I'll take it.

I've been working on the labels for my patriotic sampler and have made a lot of progress. I would like to get this quilt finished in time to display this year, but it will be July before we know it.

11:13 am: Girls Camp isn't until June, but we're here to fill the High Adventure certification for the 4th year girls {age 15}. The activity is for all the 4th years in the stake, and arranged by the Stake Young Women leaders, but I thought it was important to come and show support to my girls. I'll admit that I was a little hesitant to give up an entire Saturday to go rappelling. I'm not a big fan of dirt. Or heights. Or non-flushing portable toilets {although I have to admit that the set up here is nicer than the pit toilet we stopped at earlier. The girls had some funny name for it, but I can't remember it now}. But it really is beautiful here and I am glad I came.

A kind, grandfatherly gentleman is our host for the day. Oliver has been teaching the girls in our stake to rappel for years. The basics are these: the ropes are certified up to 9000 lbs. but don't step on them, and don't drop the carabiners and figure eights.

This is where we are rappelling from. It's only about 140 feet. No biggie.

11:27 am: In order to get to the rappelling point, we have to scale an only slightly less steep incline than the face we will be rappelling from. I *huff* am *puff* so *wheeze* out *huff* of *wheeze* shape *huff*.

11:49 am: Surely the elevation up here isn't that different from where we were standing on the ground, but I'm feeling a little light-headed. I'm not so sure this is such a good idea.

The girls are starting to gear up. Oliver's granddaughter is helping them get their harnesses on correctly.

12:03 pm: The ropes are tied to hardware anchored in the rock. Oliver's son and grandson are harnessed and the ropes pass through a figure eight attached to their harnesses by carabiners. They serve as a back-up should the anchors fail. At the bottom of each rope is someone on belay who only has to exert about 10 lbs. of pressure to stop your progress down the rope. Good to know.

12:19 pm: These are my girls. Aren't they beautiful?
{Top left: Serina
Middle left: Kali and Oliver
Bottom left: A cactus patch growing in the middle of the sandstone
Bottom center: Kristina
Bottom right: Jehni
Group shot: Kristina, Kali, Serina and Jehni}

12:42 pm: Quote of the day from Cami, a girl from one of the other wards, to Oliver and his family: "you guys do this for fun?"

1:19 pm: It is my turn. I can see what Cami was talking about.

I've been watching Oliver coach each of the girls in turn. Keep your legs straight, keep your feet shoulder-width apart, lean back into the harness, keep your eyes on your feet and where your next step will be but don't look down, breathe, yell "help" if you get into trouble and the men on belay at the bottom will stop you.

Oh, look. There are grooves in the figure eight where the rope passes through. Interesting.

Time to go. *Deep breath* I can do this.

This is what it looks like after you go over the edge. It's really not so bad. Just put one foot behind the other, don't bend your knees, trust the equipment and don't look down. My partner, Lizzie, is from another ward, but I adopted her for the day.

1:31 pm: That was fantastic! What an amazing experience. I'm so glad I didn't chicken out. The hardest part was kicking off the rock as it curved back and letting myself dangle in open space. But when I turned around and looked around, it was awesome. I live in some of God's most beautiful country.

Now for some lunch. I had a hard time deciding what to bring. Eating gluten and diary free on-the-go is a hassle. In the end, I decided on a Jimmy John's unwich. It is a little bit soggy, but not bad.

2:27 pm: Oliver said that you should go twice, because the second time was more fun. It was pretty fun the first time. Maybe I should go again.

2:51 pm: That hill is a doozy to climb. I'm not sure that going a second time is such a good idea. I'm tired. What if I drop myself? They guys on belay at the bottom will stop me, of course, but still. I could get scratched up pretty badly.

3:13 pm: The second time was not as much fun for me. I was too tired. And I looked down. I'll remember that for next year.

3:26 pm: The girls are having so much fun. Jehni has been six or seven times. She rappels down and runs right back up to the top to go again.

4:18 pm: The wind has really picked up. I have sand in between my eyelashes. We're going to pack up and go up the canyon a little further, where there is shelter from the wind to eat.

5:05 pm: Oliver talked for a little bit on his experiences over the years and drew some parallels between having faith in God and having a safe rappelling experience. He gave each of us a carabiner and a bookmark with the comparisons he made on it.
Be Strong
Stay firmly anchored to the mountain (gospel).
Tie the right knots (good friends and family).
Remember, your life hangs in the balance (eternal life).
Only use the best equipment (scriptures and prayer).
Never step on your rope (sacred things).
Go with faith (in the Lord).

5:45 pm: Dinner was good and now we're on our way home.

8:11 pm: It got too dark to work on my stitching project about an hour ago. I have sand in my ears. I am so ready to be done. The drive up didn't seem this long. Just a few more minutes until we are home.

8:21 pm: That last 10 minutes nearly killed me. I can't wait to hit the showers!


Paulette said...

You did it! Your bravery is inspiring! Not that I'm anxious to rappel anywhere...nope, I'll just be over here leaning way back in my office chair. ;)

Shay said...

Whooo hooo - another fear conquered.

Not sure you'd get me up on that cliff face though !

Jill said...

That is awesome! Our stake does an overnight for the girls who are 4th year and up, but it's always the night before girls camp. (I don't think they do anything that awesome, either.) Good for you, going to support and PARTICIPATE! Fantastic.