“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us” – Anonymous
Have you ever done something that scared you half to death? Or really scared you in the moments right before you took the plunge? Made you nauseated? Break out in a sweat? Made you tremble? That is how I was feeling right before I connected the rope to my harness and walked out over the edge. The walk, or creep, in my case, was the hardest part about it.
As I sat in at an uncomfortable angle with my feet keeping my posterior in place, I watched and took pictures (very carefully, I might add) as, first, my daughter-in-law very courageously volunteered to go. Then my son, her husband. Then my younger son. Next, my husband said it was my turn. My turn. What?!
Our very knowledgeable, positive, and experienced guide, Graham, from Zion Rock & Mountain Guides, and his assistant Ethan had hiked us up a steep path, through a slot canyon, and to our present location. First Graham explained how this rappelling experience would work, how we had two ropes holding us up, one that we would control with our own hands to let ourselves down (also held, just in case, by Ethan), and one, a safety rope, that he would be holding. What could possibly go wrong? Well, what if my feet slip? The rope may be holding me up, but if my feet slip, I could dangle upside down, maybe? Or hit my head? Or smash my face into the rock?
So, as I waited, I kept giving myself a pep talk. “You can do this. Be courageous. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” When my turn came, I carefully inched closer to the edge, strapped on the rope, and slowly, very slowly and shakily let myself down. And I didn’t look down! Only up – that was a big help! Our first rappel of the day was the shortest one, the baby one, the one that gets your feet wet. As I dropped further and further toward the ground beneath me, I felt better and better. Wow! It really isn’t that bad! I can do this! I am doing this! Finally I touched down. We had been given instructions to say, “On the ground!” when we made it down and then, “Off rope!” when the rope was released from our harness. What a feeling of accomplishment! I was ready for our next rappel!
I will say that the younger generation seemed a little more excited and less nervous than I did. They all did a great job! Our guide, Graham, had us laughing all day with his expressions, such as: schwing! and schweet! and super safe! He also called us party people, told us, “you’re groovy,” and our favorite, “whatever’s clever, man.” He reminded me of the sea turtle from “Finding Nemo.” He was a really good guide and always put a positive spin on every situation. Our dirty hands and scrapes were called badges of honor.
After the first rappel of our half-day canyoneering adventure, we were ready for a second, higher one. But the second time, I wasn’t scared at all. After conquering the initial fear, and understanding how it all worked, all of a sudden it was no big deal! I knew the rope would hold me, I knew I could handle it, I understood the mechanics, so the next ones were exciting.
When all of our rappels were done, and we had done some scrambling over and under rocks through the slot canyon and headed back to the van, it was nice to look around, enjoy the beauty around us, and bask in the feeling of accomplishment.
Facing and overcoming my fear was a liberating feeling! I’m so glad that I didn’t let fear keep me from experiencing something challenging and exciting that I have always wanted to try. And I am so happy that I was able to do it with my family. What a day!
Until next time, happy traveling!