Saturday, July 22, 2006

Walking the High Log

A week ago I was in the woods with the Posse group doing a ropes course. (I was going to write about it last week, but then there was a Huge Goat in Danville!) The ropes course was an excellent team-building activity. We worked together to get everyone through at least part of the course. Indeed, they were such a good team already that the staff of the University of New Hampshire's Browne Center, who ran the course, had to make up ways for them to make it harder ("with your eyes closed" or "with one hand" or "backwards" or all of the above).

Each of the high courses was about 25 or 30 feet in the air, crossing a space of about twenty feet. The four sites were: walking a wire with two guidewires; walking a wire with one guidewire; walking a telephone pole bolted horizontally between two trees; and the "leap of faith" – a leap from a platform to touch a ball suspended above the ground. In each case, the team part lay in the belaying rope attached to your harness. This is your safety line. It is also the only way down. You are trusting your teammates on the other end of the rope to keep you safe.

We all knew in our minds that we could do it, and that we could trust the team. Still, it is a big adrenaline rush to walk that high holding on to not much. The posse are healthy teens. All of them climbed the ladders, and then the staples, up the trees. Some told jokes and struck poses. But everyone was affected physically.

So why am I telling this as a Saturday story? Imagine a forty-something fat guy, in a harness with a rope attached, climbing a ladder, then climbing up steel staples about as big as the heel of your shoe, then coming to a telephone pole which hangs out over the staples. This was a poser. Nonetheless, with some thinking, and much grunting, I threw my leg over the log and hauled my way up on to the log. Did I mention that this one has no hand-holds at all? You just walk across a log? Up in the trees? Oh, and it was raining?

Walking the log was great. The adrenaline made my knees a little wobbly, but the thrill was fine. And the posse came through, lowering me gently to the ground.

If you ever get the chance to do a ropes course with friends, take it.

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