Sunday, July 26, 2015

Flying high...

Today I got up, had coffee, showered and put on my FEAR LESS shirt. And acted on those two words.

I headed out with a friend to Mammoth Cave Adventures  to go zip lining. 90 minutes through the trees, 5 lines, and then a Drop Tower free fall at the end.

The drive took us through some of the most beautiful parts of KY. As we got closer my friend remarked on the red clay earth exposed by road construction. What was familiar to me was foreign to her. Then we got off in Cave City and headed toward Mammoth Cave. Back a winding tree shaded road following signs to the site, we chatted about what this adventure would bring.

We arrived and had a quick snack of cheese and grapes, drank water and found the bathroom. Then we went in and got our equipment.

"Step into the harness, pull it up, lean forward and tighten the straps. Now it's not the first time I have put on a sit harness but it has been a quarter of a century since I did! All the equipment looked familiar from my stagehand days. I checked the carabiners to make sure they were locking ones and they were. I strapped on my helmet and headed out to join the others.

The guides were self admitted "good ole boys" and took to teasing the silent, slightly nervous group.
"Who's up for an adventure?" they shouted to the big eyed tense group. "ME!
 I exclaimed. The two looked at one another like "Yeah, right". They saw a soft cushiony middle aged woman. Little did they know I was a speed freak badass! But they would figure it out...

Line/run one was up a platform, with the wire disappearing into the trees. They gave the safety talk, had us clipped onto the tree and asked us to line up at the edge of the platform and lean back. OK! The fun is starting. They were surprised that I did it and bounced on my toes.
" You wanna go next?" they asked. "Sure" I said.

I was clipped in, main support and auxiliary support snugged and locked. They showed me how to "steer" by slowing twisting the carabiners. Up on the short block and off into the air.
It went by quickly and I didn't figure out the steering and landed ok, remembering to raise my feet so as not to break an ankle. The "brakes" were knotted ropes which the catchers pulled taunt and slowed us at the end so we didn't whack into a tree. For some reason I had envisioned the sweaty, sexy young men catching us in a big bear hug ;-) but no, they used the rope brakes.

The next platform was reached by crossed a wire suspended bridge between trees. I bounced across it (literally) and waited with the two military guys who had gone before me. The second run was a little longer, a little higher, a little faster. More advice on how to get speed: instead of just "sitting" you could lean back and pull your knees to your chest to increase your velocity. On that run I played with it a bit and got a bit faster.  A better landing and when asked how it was I replied "AWESOME but not as fast as I had hoped". Now they were getting an idea of what I was made of.

Run # 3 was the length of 3 football fields and they explained again how to pick up speed. I listened and decided I would go all out as runs 4 & 5 were shorter and more gentle.

SO I kind of leapt off, tucked my knees to my chest. let go with my hands and leaned back... I started spinning and ended up "breech" going into the landing REALLY fast...

The next thing I knew I was laughing and looking into the HUGE eyes of the catcher laying flat on his belly having been knocked off his feet and dragged with me stopping about a foot from the tree.
"DAMN! You knocked me off my feet! You are gonna have to buy me a beer!!!" I kept laughing and the 2nd catcher said "I have NEVER seen that happen". Catcher #1, Preston, said it was the first time anyone had ever come in that fast and furious.

I suspect that he had underestimated me, my daring and my full throttle, pedal to the floor desire to fly. Also he may not have been positioned correctly, never the less he was a bit more cautious with me at the last two landings.

Granted he did loosen my safety rope as I was leaning back and gave me a jolt as it slipped but the fact I didn't scream too much and just started laughing again made him grin.

After the zip line tour was over there was the 70 foot tower drop if one wanted to do it. I did. However climbing 107 steps nearly did me in and reminded me I need to get back to the gym ASAP.

At the top the wooden tower swayed in the breeze taking back to my theater day when I ran a followspot from atop an metal tower in NYC for Lincoln Center Out of Doors. and the hardest part lay ahead: a single clip onto the sit harness and a straight step off the platform. The guides advised to look straight ahead, (do not look down!)  and step off...

My fear of heights came slamming back in seconds. I pondered whether I could do it after all. Then one woman got to the edge and said NO. I can't. There was slack in the wire until it took the weight of our bodies and that unnerved her. My friend didn't even go to the edge of the platform. Instead she walked down the stairs and waited to video me.

The guide instructed the woman  that she could go off backwards, sort of like sitting and gently pushing off with her feet. She still refused and was almost in tears before he unhooked her.

"Who's next?" he asked. I stepped up knowing if I didn't face this fear I would be angry with myself later for the missed opportunity.

He clipped me in. I made my first mistake, I looked over the edge. I looked at him. He said "Do you want to do this?" I said "Yes" but in the sitting, backwards position. He adjusted the clip, we do si doed around and I hung my heels off the edge. "Don't drop me!" I said. Then I kicked back and said "See ya" and fell.... it was only seconds and slowed near the end. Preston let me land and lay back on the earth. Again I was laughing but this time it was nervous relieved laughter. Then he winked at me, offered his hand and helped me up.

One fear down...
Peanut, me and Preston (aka "Cougar Bait")

1 comment:

Sky and Lynne said...

Wow, Martha, that got my adrenaline going just reading about your day! You must feel rejuvenated! Sky