That first lean backwards into nothing is the scariest part.
Walking backwards and going off the edge of a cliff is scarier than actually hanging in the air. By that point you’ve realized that you aren’t going to die, you just need to maintain control of the rope.
This last weekend I went rappelling. It was super awesome.
This is where the privilege of having friends in high places – pun totally and completely intended – really pays off. My friend Emily’s sister was dating a guy who had friends who loved rappelling and had the gear and smarts to do it. Although saying that always makes me think of Ferris Bueller.
We left on Friday evening and arrived at midnight (gross) and set up our tents. The next morning was when we got in the cars (a jeep and a truck) and drove off. The main guy doing the rappelling parked his truck at the trailhead of Grandstaff Trail, which was our end point, and then we parked the jeep at the trailhead and set off toward our two destinations.
Our first rappel was into a giant hole, for lack of a better description. Mini-canyon?
Then after that, we hiked to Morning Glory Natural Bridge and after taking a quick detour walking on top of the arch, rappelled down the canyon wall next to the arch.
I had been the second-to-last on the previous one, so I wanted to be the first person to go down this time. The anchor was a rope connected to some metal bolting in the rock, but the rope was so long that I was terrified of having too much rope – that I’d fall off the edge and wouldn’t be able to control the rope.
Three of the guys picked up the rope and helped lower me until I was safe enough to do it on my own and I began lowering myself gradually into the area. A bunch of people who brought their dogs were watching. I made eye contact with the cutest corgi in the world as soon as I landed on the ground and all the dogs started barking while the people clapped.
Then everyone else began to lower themselves in. I took as many pictures as I could, trying to capture a moving object without it getting blurry.
After everyone came down, a different group of guys decided to rappel down on opposite sides of the arch. THAT was rad.
Then we hiked 4 miles back to the car, although it was closer to 4.5 because we got on the wrong trail and had to cross the river to get to the correct trail.
It was an excellent camping trip, even with the massive rainstorm that hit us that night. Luckily, the guys had found an awesome network of caves that we holed up in and made a fire and roasted marshmallows and jalapeno-cheddar hot dogs in. Then Emily brought out her ukulele and we sang a bunch of songs, campfire style.
I loved rappelling and would definitely do it again – but I think getting more into rock climbing couldn’t hurt.