Blog every day in May topic – A vivid memory
For my 30th birthday, a group of us went to Go Ape. I can’t remember why I decided to do this – I think at the time I noted on here that it’s quite an out of character activity for me – but it had something to do with pretending to be spontaneous and fun, and trying something new.
As it was my birthday and I was all hyped up and excited, I volunteered to go first and lead the rest of our group across the first section of the course. This was fine initially – up a rope ladder, across some bridges – and you’re always attached by a safety cord so there’s no real danger. Unfortunately, I hadn’t really thought through the idea of going first.
If you don’t go first, you see, you get to watch someone else do each part of the course. You can see how to do it, and you can check that they don’t die a splatty death on the forest floor. This was something I realised quite quickly once I reached the first zip line.
The zip lines at Go Ape are at the end of each section of the course; there’s normally about three or four at each site I think. They take you from the end of that section, usually from its highest part, back down to the ground in a rush of air and nice views and a soft barky landing. They are loads of fun.
BUT TERRIFYING. To me, anyway.
I think I’d be fine on them now, or at least a lot better; but the first one, when I was all on my own, and no one had demonstrated it for me, was really difficult.
I found myself climbing up a rope ladder, when I was already very high up to start with, onto a small wooden platform above most of the treeline. I attached myself to the zip line and looked out ahead of me at what I was about to do. And there was so… much… space.
The feeling of emptiness all around me was overwhelming. There was nothing below me, above me, or in front of me. Just an insignificant metal cord running down to the ground that I was meant to entrust my life to. I was vaguely aware of some people behind me wooing and encouraging me to go for it.
Shit. I’m stuck up here now. I can’t go back down the ladder, there are people in the way, and anyway it was a bitch to climb up it so I’d never make it back down. My only two options are to go down the zip line, or to blow my orange panic whistle and be rescued. I’m not doing that on my birthday, I’ll look like a dick.
So, somehow, I sat my weight down in my harness and pushed myself out into the void.
And it was amazing! They’re so much fun! The air whips past you, and you glide almost silently (apart from the ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ sound of the cord) through the sky, over trees and playgrounds and children waving up at you.
Then you realise that you’re getting near enough to the ground that you can’t actually die now. Even if I somehow fell off, I’d probably be alright. Oh look, there’s a huge mound of bark chips approaching. Do I try to land on my feet? What did they say in the briefing? Oh never mind, I’m already being dragged along the ground on my arse collecting a large part of the forest floor inside my underpants. Oh I’ve stopped.
And that was it. It all seemed so easy once I was back on the ground, albeit with slightly shaky legs, looking back up at the platform and the next person starting their descent.
I would recommend it heartily, and I would probably go again. BUT, be aware that it’s really fucking high, and once you start a section you’re pretty much committed to it, you can’t go back, and you don’t know how horrible that section might or might not be until you’re already up there. So it is scary, but it’s a great experience, and I’m reliably informed that most people don’t die.
[WOO I FINISHED THE CHALLENGE! That’s a post every day this month. I hope you enjoyed them, and thank you for sticking with me]