Enchanted Rock ClimbingFriday, March 23, 2012
About a month ago I bought a GroupOn that looked interesting. It was for an outdoor rock climbing adventure at Enchanted Rock.
The picture made it look so fun and the guy in the picture looked so outdoorsy that I wanted that. I wanted to try something new and different and outdoors. So I bought it. The fact that I am totally terrified of heights didn't register as I whipped out my debit card and bought two tickets; one for me and one for anyone else I could find to go with me.
Finally the day came for me to redeem my coupon. Robert said that it sounded like fun and that he would go with me. So the two of us woke up at 5:30 AM! because stupid Google Maps told us that it would take a whole two hours to get there.
The road was completely empty and DARK as Robert drove. It was totally scary. Like claustrophobic scary. Working overnights means that when I get out of work it's still dark outside but I guess the city's lights make a HUGE difference. While sitting in the passenger's seat looking out the window I couldn't help but feel that the Mayans were both right and wrong. The world is going to end in 2012 but it was going to end THEN not in December. That is just how much of a city-person I am. I didn't even know it could GET that dark.
Eventually, we arrived at Enchanted Rock. About an hour early.
But that meant that we got see the sun rise (sort of) and when we drove into the National Park we saw a family of deer skimpering by.
After about another hour and a half our rock climbing group had gathered and we started out by learning all the safety lessons. How to harness yourself, how to properly tie your knots, the words and phrases you use. Our group consisted of a group of five kids from UTHSC, a very fit husband and wife, a boyfriend and his very reluctant girlfriend, a woman with a friend, and a woman who came late with all of her own gear. After learning the all important RED MEANS DEAD, and double-double knot we gathered up our equipment and hiked to our site.
The hike took about 30 minutes and was probably scarier and more exhausting than the actual rock climbing bit. But as I had never been to Enchanted Rock it was not at all boring.
Once we arrived at our site we found that another rock climber had already set up all our climbing ropes for us. I thought they would talk more, give us some more advice or show us how to do it.
We all just separated into groups and gathered at the bottom of the ropes getting ready for the first person to give it a try.
First in our group was Robert and I was his belayer (which I am proud to say I was very good at). Robert got pretty high up there. I was actually pretty impressed considering neither one of us had ever done such a thing (nor as I mentioned before, are outdoorsy). Next went the boyfriend. He had a much harder time of it than Robert did. Then his girlfriend. She actually seemed to do better than both of the boys. And then, finally, it was my turn.
I really didn't want to go. I had horrible misgivings and horrible flashes of me falling to my death. Not because it was so high up but because I fell on a bed of rock and one of my ribs jammed into my heart, and I didn't die instantly but instead tried to breathe and was still totally conscious that blood was squirting out of my chest and the crazy teacher (who called himself JBird) instead of helping me, starts getting angry at me because he'd never had an accident and he can't believe I'm so clumsy. And the other teacher, who happens to be cute in a rock-climbing, hippie way is trying to stem the flow of blood but can't really look anywhere other than my ginormous butt that the harness makes even bigger and uglier as well as my plastered down helmet hair. And JBird is screaming RED IS DEAD. And even though I'm in a pool of blood I'm still not dead and the cute hippie climber is like completely disgusted--not at the rib poking out of my chest, or the blood gushing out of it but at the way my butt, in my harness, has cushioned my fall from the waist down and how if I had landed in a river could probably be used as a flotation device.
So there I am and everyone is looking at me because it's obviously my turn. I put my shoes on and try NOT to think of falling and dying and being completely humiliated by my butt.
I make sure the harness is right and the knots are double-double knotted. And with the guidance of the hippie climber I start. And I do what they say, I focus not on how high up I am, or how far down I might fall, or how much more I need to get to the top but FOCUS ONLY on where my next step should be. I stare hard, intensely, resolutely, and every other adjective on the holes in the rock and how my toes are going to fit into it. And then, almost magically I'm a whole FIVE feet off the ground. And then slowly but surely, TEN FEET.
I'm pretty sure that picture is as high as I got on that rock.
AND I COULDN'T HAVE BEEN HAPPIER.
The fact that I got in that harness and climbed my way up ten feet was more than I could have anticipated. I mean, this coming from someone who can't even climb a ladder because I get dizzy. Being THAT high was more than I could have ever expected. Also, more than my mother could have expected as she let me know...more than once.
Climbing the second rock was a lot easier, mentally. It was still a hard rock to climb but mentally I was more willing to do it. I thought "I've done it once, I can do it again".
So we preceded to climb rocks for the next six hours or so.
My favorite rock was the third one that our group did.
It had this long jagged crack and a lot more holes that were toe accessible as well as places to put your hands on. I even got to the top of it!
It's weird because at the top I was able to actually look out and around. I even looked down. Sure, a cuss word came out of my mouth but I didn't pull a Sheldon.
And once I breathed in a bit I was able to control my fear, hold onto my rope and repel down.
I climbed one other rock but only got half-way up before I got stuck. My legs weren't long enough to lift me up nor was my upper body strength able to carry me over that one rough spot. Robert was the only in our group that was able to reach the top of the last rock called Jackknife. So proud.
So all in all I had a really good time. A lot better time than I thought I was going to have. The act of climbing isn't hard. It's the part where you get over the fact that you're not going to die doing it. Learning where to put your feet or the easier way to get around and up a rock can be tricky but most of climbing seemed to be a mental thing.
So if you want to go climbing, you now know who to call.