Facing Your Fears

Over the weekend Michael and I joined our friends, Charles and Erika, camping out in the middle of nowhere at Camp Dakota. We rented a large yurt to camp in. It came with a small table and chairs inside, two bunk beds and it slept 6 people. There was also a BBQ at our site and a campfire. It was hardly “roughing” it but I have to say that I’m a big fan of yurt camping.

It was a great place to camp and I’d recommend the place to anyone looking for some excitement when they camp, or people with kids. It’s a very kid-friendly place.

We checked in at 2pm Saturday afternoon and then got signed up for the “Adventure Package.” It was one of the reasons we had picked that location to camp. I wasn’t sure I could do the adventure activities, but I was going to try. Let me preface this post by saying that I’m afraid of heights. I’m not deathly afraid–I can hike most trails that aren’t too scary–but it is definitely bordering on crippling fear.

The package we all bought included two rounds through the Zip Lines and one round through the Ropes Course. When I first looked at it, I thought the Zip Lines were terrifying, but the High Ropes looked doable. Boy was I off!

We got suited up with the harnesses and helmets and then our group was lead over to the Zip Lines. The guys working there were all super nice and friendly, very patient (especially with me!).

We were all able to joke about it but as it got closer to my turn to climb up the ladder to the platform I was about to panic. Erika went first. She was nervous about it too but she was able to do it so I told myself to suck it up and start climbing up the ladder.

My heart was pounding in my chest with each ladder rung I climbed. Challenging myself to do something scary like this wasn’t really something I would do. I was wearing my heart rate monitor just out of curiosity and it was high. By the time I got to the top of the platform it was in the high 160’s. That’s the peak of my heart rate when I run vigorously!

The top of the above photo shows the first platform. I don’t know that it gives a good idea of how high up it was. Trust me, it was high!

I was shaking and the guy at the top hooked me into the Zip Line and instructed me to stand on the edge of the platform. I tried not to look down. It was hard. It was about 28 feet up from the ground, which probably doesn’t seem like much but trust me, it is. I was feeling anxious and my heart was racing.

“You ready?”

I looked over at the probably nineteen year old kid telling me it was time for me to go. I looked out across the Zip Lines and then looked down.

“You have to take a step.”

“I don’t think I can do this. I can’t do this.” I said. I’m sure my eyes were huge saucers. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t take that first step. It was a leap of faith. Faith in the Camp, Faith in my harness, Faith in a bigger power that I wouldn’t plunge to my death immediately. I turned to him again and said I couldn’t do it. I wanted him to push me. I wanted someone else to take that first step for me. But he couldn’t. I had to do it. I was in a panic and then I did it.

(The photos of the Zip Lines aren’t us because I didn’t bring my camera up there. I took this from the ground.) I took that first step and gravity did the rest. I zipped down the Zip Line to the second platform and was turned around on the line so that I was coming into Platform 2 backwards. Jermie, one of the guys there, caught me safely and unclipped me from the first line and hooked me into the second line. He asked me what my heart rate was–it was 176! My legs felt like Jell-o. My entire body was shaking with adrenaline.

He sent me on my way down the line to platform 3 and then platform 4 where I was safely back on the ground and instructed to climb up the hill to Platform 1 to do it all over again. I must say that climbing up to the top of the platform the second time was much easier than the first. While I was still scared to death taking that first plunge it was fun–and pretty enjoyable! The adrenaline calmed down a bit and I had a great time. It was exciting!

Zip Line Stats:
Calories Burned: 202
Peak Heart Rate: 176

Can you believe that I burned that many calories in only 30 minutes without working out?!?! After the Zip Lines we all headed over to the High Ropes course. I realized that I couldn’t do it. Looking at the ropes course high up in the trees I just couldn’t do it. I told Michael I wasn’t going to try it and I unclipped my hooks from the harness. Michael said, “I think you will regret not doing this.” I knew he was right. But down on the ground I was suddenly struck with massive fear about doing the course.

Again, I didn’t use my camera much–especially when it was my turn–so I have few photos. But I will try to describe the sheer terror as best as I can. The guides gave a demonstration of how the high ropes course worked. They went through it like it was a breeze (I’m sure it is for them). We were hooked in just like in the Zip Lines during the entire course but that does not alleviate any of the anxiety, trust me.

I knew I’d regret not doing it, but I couldn’t bring myself to climb up the ladder and do the course. One of the guides, Jermie, said if I went first in our big group, that he would guide me through it. But that meant I had to go first. He went up to the top first and then showed me how to do each section of the course.

The first step was hard, just like the Zip Lines, then I was able to do it. I made it through the first two sections of the course with minimal incident. I was scared, I tried not to look down at all and just focus on the steps right in front of me. I didn’t feel anxious until I got to the third sections that was the tightropes. It was a single tightrope that I had to walk across with just single rope and buoys hanging down for me to hang on to. I wasn’t sure I could do that one. I started to panic. I couldn’t turn around and head back. I had to go forward, it was the only option.

Jermie came back out onto the tightrope from the platform to guide me through this section and I was so grateful. He talked very calmly and and encouraged me with each step. He was right in front of me and I just copied what he did and made it across the tightrope. The trick was to lean forward (no matter how scary that was) to counter balance the weight and make it easier to balance as I stepped along.

I got to the platform and Jermie tried to help me relax a little bit by doing some exercises where we both let go of holding onto the harness and just hung. It was hard. It was scary. I desperately wanted to hang on but it helped me relax a little bit. The next section was scary. It was another one where I had to take a leap of faith with the first step.

This section was scary because there was nothing to hold onto. It was just me walking across the bridge and trying not to fall. Of course, if I fell it was only a few feet because I was attached by the harness, but it’s a primal fear. I got across it and faced the scariest part. I thought it was going to be the easiest part of the course. My problem: I couldn’t reach the ropes in order to get across. I lost my balance and I FELL. Yep. I fell.

It was scary. I was almost upside down. I was holding onto the ropes and the harness for dear life. I wasn’t at risk of falling to the ground, but when you’re that high up you don’t think about the fact that you’re attached to a harness and okay. I pulled myself up and back on my feet. I made it across the course and stood on the final platform. From there I tried to calm down a little bit and I took some photos of Michael going through the course behind me.

I definitely felt more comfortable back down on the ground. From there I watched as my friends made their way through the ropes course.

Ropes Challenge:
Time: 30 minutes
Calories Burned: 232

I was so glad I did it. I was glad I faced my fears and made myself try. It was terrifying but I felt stronger for doing. I felt like I had accomplished something amazing and challenging and hard. Could I do it again? I would do the Zip Lines again. I don’t know that I could do the Ropes Course again. Funny how in the beginning I thought it would be reversed.

And never fear: we took video of the whole thing. Once we have time to edit the videos down I’ll share them with you. 🙂

QUESTION: Have you done anything like this? Could you? What’s a fear that you want to face?