Sunday, May 1, 2011

ex-ZIP-it A

Forgive the title. I'm still a fan of Scott Evil.

But that's what we did yesterday: We went on a zipline canopy tour and ropes course at Wildwater Ltd. in Long Creek, SC.

Don't let the perspective fool you. We're 50 feet above the ground there, walking on a telephone pole. Dr. Krog did it, too. I had some definite adrenaline right before this walk. Luckily-- for both of our egos-- we both did the entire course without a single fall.

It was one of the most physically challenging things I've ever done. Trying to maneuver around three other people, telephone poles, random hooks, steel cables, and a bunch of ropes, all while standing higher than a two-story house really makes the adrenaline pulse.

Sometimes, there were no handholds. At all. The bridges and cables sway in the breeze. When they haul you up the first platform with a helicopter winch and it wobbles under your feet, it feels so strange and terrifying and exhilarating. But once you're soaring through the forest and pretending you're on the forest moon of Endor, it gets even better.

You tuck up your knees and cannonball between the branches. Sometimes, you can't even see where you'll end up. And then you're standing in the treetops a hundred feet off the ground, and you realize that placing your trust in a couple of caribiners isn't quite so scary. You forget where you are and notice your foot is halfway off the platform, but it doesn't really matter.

The challenge feels good. Struggling against gravity and your own body's fragile need to feel safe. Finding comfort in the height. Trusting yourself to put your hand here, and your foot there, climbing even higher.

Walking with two hand-holds felt like cheating. Plus, about five seconds later, a school bus of teens arrived to use those harnesses you see lying on the ground there, and I wouldn't have shown an ounce of fear no matter what.

I'm not a Shmitty, dammit.

On the last zip line, which was over a beautiful little lake, Dr. Krog and I raced each other.

I won.

And it felt odd, afterward, to have my feet on solid ground again. In just a couple of hours, I'd found my air legs. I'd gotten used to the swaying, the bouncing of the cables.

And I have to wonder what the experience would have been like when I was sixteen or twenty-four. Would I have wanted to do it? Would I have been scared? Would I have slipped? Would I have been able to trust the equipment and the guides and the statistics and, yes, even my own body?

I don't know. But I'm glad I finally realized, at 33, that experiences and memories matter more than things. Now we've added wildwater rafting and staying in a yurt at Wildwater to our list of things to do. And I want to learn to scuba dive. And I want to ride horses more.

What is it they said in Garden State? "Have fun staring into the infinite abyss?"

Yeah, I totally do.


Harley May said...

This is AWESOME. You're pretty.

delilah, the unruly helpmeet said...

So here's what we do. We do a writer's retreat at this place, and we stay in their group yurts, and we go ziplining and ropes coursing and whitewater rafting, and then we get drunk and stay up all night writing around the campfire and eating s'mores.