Friday, November 6, 2015

At the End of the Rope

This post is not about the martial arts, exactly.

For my 25th Anniversary celebration, Mr. Chick and I decided we wanted to do the aerial obstical course with zip lines at Trinity Forest Aerial Adventures.

We saw forest AND trees.

Years ago, I did a (somewhat) similar activity in college, but it was more of a trust-building and team building exercise, and it wasn't high up in the air.  We were up for something different, and challenging, and boy, did we get it.

Before you go, there is a waiver and other paperwork you have to fill out (just like a martial arts class) that warns you that it's a dangerous activity and you risk injury, up to and including death.

Sign me up!

The temps were in the high 50's Fahrenheit, and it was raining at a pretty good clip. It wasn't severe weather, just a steady rain, but it wasn't too bad once you got into the trees.

When you arrive, they fit you with a harness and issue you a helmet and leather gloves.  Mr. Chick had a hard time finding gloves to fit (his hands are too large) and the "extra small" gloves were a little big on me.  Attached to the harness is a trolley (for zip lines) and a safety harness, which you use to attach to the safety lines throughout the course.  The neat thing about this contraption is that you use keys to lock in, and you can't remove yourself from any of the lines without first attaching it to another safety line.  So you're "always attached".

Our safety gear, is sexy, no?

They train you at first on how to use the safety equipment and how to stay "always attached", then they run you through a short course on the ground (including a short zip line) to get used to using the equipment.

Getting coached on how to do this without that "death" thing happening
You work a progression of courses - the beginner course (Yellow), two lower intermediate courses (Green), one upper intermediate course (Blue - there are actually two Blue courses but one was closed waiting certification) and one advanced course (Black).  Each course as you move up the difficulty scale increases the height as well as the difficulty.

We made it all the way through Blue, but we ran out of time before we got to the Black course.

The Yellow course was (relatively) pretty easy, but each Green course had some"elements" that were really, really hard.  Blue was very difficult.  I still wish we'd tackled the Black course, but hey - I'll get it next time!

Platform where all courses begin

Me crossing a rope bridge
The ladder to hell, aka, the Blue course
Pausing between elements
Bridges over the swamp
The upper levels are the Black course

It took us 2-1/2 hours to get through the courses we tackled, and by the end of it, you're really tired and sore (and yeah, it was worse the next day).

At one point, there is an element where I sort of fell and caught myself, and worked my way back up to discover I was on the "wrong" side of the rope (my safety line was tangled up and couldn't move forward).  I had to work my way back to the point where I fell and then correct myself to come through the "correct" side of the rope to get to the platform.

Even though I was perfectly safe, and I could have called for help, it definitely had a bit of a pucker factor and I felt the adrenaline dump of fear, lemme tell ya!

The thing about courses like this is if you can get through it, you feel very physically competent.  I felt strong and capable of being able to do anything, and that alone made the expense worth every penny.

So what did this teach me in the martial arts?  I learned that all the values we teach our kids in the martial arts - courage and persistence in particular - are totally useful in other areas of life.  I learned that my physical competence in the martial arts seemed to translate well to this activity.

I learned that if I could possibly do it on a daily basis as a supplement to training, I'd be SO HAPPY (this is WAY more fun than a gym, guys).

You should look in your area for something like this, and if you can possibly swing it, do it!  You won't regret it!

Happy Stick people in the Trees
Have you done a physical challenge course like this?  What did you learn?  Tell me in the comments!