Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Rappelling Not So Repelling, or "Grappling With Rappling"

The bulk of my weekend was spent walking backwards off this cliff.

I know, I can hardly believe it myself. And if you're thinking "Which of the two men capable of talking Todd into doing such a hazardous activity was responsible this time" the answer is: both of them.

"Operation 'Freak Todd the Heck Out' is a go!"

"Damn, I'm good"

Yes, Saturday afternoon The Lovable PigPen got a phone call from Cap'n Shack-Fu who had been inspired by the beautiful weather outside to organize a trip to Mineral Wells State Park to go rappelling. PigPen was equally as gung-ho as Shack at the prospect; I, unsurprisingly, much less so. But, despite my misgivings, I agreed to go along without any arm-twisting from either of them, and then spent the bulk of my time in the car ride to Grapevine Mills, where Shack had to purchase the rope, as well as the time while Shack and PigPen set up the lines trying to psych myself up for walking backwards off a precipice with nothing but a harness connected to a metal ring embedded in rock on one end

and PigPen on the other
"Now, Todd, I want you to put every time I've threatened to kill you out of your mind, okay?"

to keep me from plummeting 30-40 feet to the rocks below.

Did I mention I'm not so good around heights?

My first time up, my feet slipped and I wound up hanging upside down, my left leg bent under me and my right let sticking straight up, both still planted firmly on the cliff-side until Shack was able to get me righted again; I don't know if I would say that's the most scared I've ever been in my life, but it definitely made the top 5. Shack and PigPen would both later tell me that I had done a good job of keeping a hold on the rope when I slipped, since most first-timer's instinct is to let go of the rope and grab onto the rock. Of course, all I know is that my forearms were killing me later that night from the deathgrip I had on the line until I got down to the ground. After I had stopped shaking from the adrenaline rush, and had regained my wind after climbing back up a fairly steep path, I forced myself to go again, so I wouldn't let the panic from my mishap get blown up too large in my head. As he was talking me through my second attempt, Shack-Fu commented "yeah, this isn't really a good rappelling spot for beginners . . ."

If I hadn't had a deathgrip on my line, I would have throttled him.

My second attempt went off without any problems, but I called it quits for the day while Shack and PigPen made one more run each. At that point I had, if not conquered, at least harnessed the fear aspect of rappelling, but I still wasn't quite at the "having fun" stage. After their third run of the day, the sun had started to set and so we packed up our gear, stopped off at Dairy Queen* for some dinner, noticed a Taco Casa shortly afterwards which caused PigPen to bemoan the fact that he had narrowly missed getting to eat at his favorite taco place, and generally made plans for how things would go on Sunday when we invited the rest of the Singles to join us in our rappelling adventure**.

We wound up with a nice sized group of prospective rappellers, with varying degrees of experience.

When we got to the park, the spot where we had rappelled the day before had been claimed by someone else, so Shack-Fu and PigPen scouted out an alternate location which turned out to be a much better spot for beginners. After Trouble went, she made a comment about how fun it was, at which point I commented that I hadn't quite gotten to the "enjoying myself" portion of rappelling. However after my first go, when I was able to make the transition from top-side to cliff-side with no problem, and actually bounced down the cliff instead of just walking down it, I called up "Okay, Trouble, I get it now!"

PigPen belayed for everyone on their first run through,

and after he gave me some coaching, I took over for a few turns so he could go again.

Of course, on his next go-round he decided to get fancy and hang upside down so Shack-Fu could take some pictures

while I eagerly waited beneath, wondering if the redness in his face signaled an impending Scannersesque head explosion.

But, alas, no cranium-bursting pyrotechnics . . . this time.

After everyone had had a chance to rappel a couple of times, we all went for a little hike to enjoy the beautiful scenery, although PigPen and I headed back early so we could each rappel a few more times, bringing my grand total of times jumping backwards off a cliff for the two days to 6.

By the time the rest of the group got back from their hike, it was getting late, and we were all pretty famished, so we loaded up into our two cars and headed to nearby Weatherford to the Sonic. However, just as we were about to get to the Sonic, Shack-Fu called PigPen to make an alternative suggestion, and while I'm sure Shack probably said more than this, I know that he really only had to say two words to change PigPen's mind . . .

I think that picture says it all, don't you?

I have to admit, Taco Casa was quite tasty, and apparently relative newcomer to the Singles Butch Chastity decided to savor the flavor, as we were all done eating long before she was.

After Shack-Fu had given her a hard time for her slow pace of eating several times, B.C. stood up, took her tray with unfinished nachos, dumped it in the trash, looked at Shack and declared "There, don't you feel bad now?" While the rest of us died laughing, she began to snap her fingers "Come on, what are you sitting down for, let's go let's go let's go."

Yeah, she's going to fit in with this group just fine.

In the end, despite some large bursts of fear and the occasional bit of stress-induced tension, I have to admit, rappelling was fun. And, while I'm not exactly chomping at the bit to go again, neither am I planning excuses to back out of going again in advance.

I think that's progress, don't you?

*Where -- and Shack-Fu will back me up on this -- PigPen actually admitted something was his fault. Don't know whether that is more or less shocking than me going rappelling, but I think they're pretty close . . .
**Trouble misread the initial invite PigPen sent her, reading "rappelling" like it rhymed with "grappling." And so thus was "rappling" added to our vocabulary.


Flunky lover said...

I feel like such a girl writing this but I'm glad you have such amazing friends. Not everybody has that.

Redneck Diva said...

Way to go! In my younger, thinner days it was a dream of mine to rappel, but now I'd snap the rope and break a hip.