Sunday, June 2, 2013

goldilocks fear recipe: none = boring; too much = paralyzing.

Hello, devoted blog fans!
Since I last reported in, I’ve done my first high platform rescue assist, added a few more bruises and contusions to the collection, and registered for the next half marathon. The rescue assist first. This was yesterday. A 10 year old girl and her mom were on an intermediate course and the girl got increasingly panicky. Fear is a tricky thing. Ideally, you want just enough to experience exhilaration. But too much is no fun – it can be downright paralyzing, and it became evident that this girl was OD’ing on fear. She was going to need to be lowered down from the course. Since this was happening in a section of the park I was monitoring at the time, I got to be the one to fetch the rescue gear. So I make it out to her – she was stuck on a cable that requires that you clip and unclip your gear to get around an obstacle – and she no longer had the strength or courage to even attempt it. I helped her get to the next platform, and she worked up the courage to do the next element. But after that, she was toast.

So I unpacked the Super Fancy German Equipment from the rescue bag and lowered her down to the ground. Not without various complications, but we all survived. Then I packed up the gear into the bag, slung it over my shoulders, and continued on the course (even for staff, the only way off the course is to just do the course). In a comical mishap, witnessed by no one, and unbeknownst to me, one of the specialty carabiners on my staff harness snagged itself on a loop of rope on one of the elements. Which I discovered as I launched into the subsequent element, a gravity-induced quasi-zipline. It’s hard to explain without pictures. Just take it from me that I was unexpectedly still tethered to the element I’d just completed, with gravity pulling me toward the next tree. And I’m the one carrying the rescue bag. I had to pull myself back hand over hand to where I’d started, and I at one point I contemplated using my teeth. I think I was too startled to even swear.

Today was a lot calmer – for some reason, we had fewer customers, even though the day was just as glorious as yesterday. I’d been putting off doing the black course – the most challenging of the five we’ve got – but at some point you just have to face your resistance. Even and especially when you’ve papered it over with a veneer of indifference. Today was the big day. My coworker buddy Mark – who hadn’t gotten around to doing the black either – and I took advantage of a lull in customer traffic to sneak up to the starting platform, where all courses begin. Naturally, the black starts with a wire ladder up to a higher platform, with rungs that are maybe four inches wide. A ladder that sways and twists around as you ascend. I figured if I could make it up without puking I’d be good to go. Mark had the wit to take his cell phone with him, so we have Actual Evidence of our Accomplishment.

So the black course is the most difficult one we’ve got. It’s the highest up, but that’s kind of a red herring: once you’ve climbed for a bit you tend to ignore the height. For me, what had been spooking me was that a couple of the elements seem better suited to taller folks. I’m 5’4” and Mark’s 5’6” – this is pretty much why we’d procrastinated. In particular, I’d squint up at it from the ground and wonder how in hell I’d manage the Disks of Despair.

Black Course 10

Here I am having a sudden balance issue on the element immediately before the Disks of Despair. Notice the little sign that says “escape” – there’s a zip line to the ground in case you want to change your mind at this point.

Black Course 9

Disks of Despair. This is early on, when I was facing the wrong way and getting the hanging ropes tangled in my gear. Fixing it was exhausting. Finally I got lined up the right way. You’re “supposed” to grab the next rope and lift/jump onto the next one, placing both feet on the little wood disk. That takes a hell of a lot of arm strength, because the second you grab that rope, it frickin’ MOVES, the disk you have to land on with BOTH feet sways wildly, so yeah, good luck with that, and please to note, there are like 14 or 15 of these things. The classic workaround is to grab the cable that all these ropes are hanging from, instead. That way, you can position your arms just over the next rope and lightly hop onto its disk. The only problem is, that cable is way high up, almost out of reach for me. Many of my coworkers are these strapping young things who clock in at 6’ or 6’2”. Me? I could just barely get my fingers around it. So I get my mitts on that cable, hang by my fingers, and my weight is just enough to pull it down a bit so I can lift my feet off one disk and place ‘em on the next one. Once I got going, I could do two or three at a time, but then it was time to chill out, let my arm muscles stop trembling, and enjoy the view:

Black Course 8

I made Mark take this picture and email Kevin immediately so he could appreciate what I was up to. I had to chill like this about three times, at least. Good thing I’ve got a half marathon coming up – should take care of that potbelly. Anyway. Onwards.

Black Course 6

View of Disks of Despair from the vantage point of having DONE THEM. You can see we’re twice the height of the intermediate course that shares the tree with its own platform, just under the Disks’ platform.

Black Course 5

Yay, us! You can see I’m already set up to do a zip line next – that thing by my left shoulder is my zip line roller. The zip line is the reward for having survived thus far.

After that, it was all “meh, yeah, whatever”, bouncing along from one absurd element to the next. Tra la la!

Black Course 11

Ever the clown.

So that was my day today. We’re having the official ribbon cutting opening at the park this Friday. This is my life right now – not bad, huh?

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