A spirited step

19 Aug

When I rounded out my summer bucket list with “Something spontaneous!,” it wasn’t because I needed one more  must-do to make an even 20.  (I live in New York; I can bang out a list like this within minutes!)  What I did want was something, then unknown, that would entice me to try something new and take me out of my comfort zone.  I don’t know exactly what I expected “Something spontaneous!” to ultimately mean however I got my answer this past Friday… with my body harnessed to a zipline hundreds of feet in the air, and my destination barely visible over half a mile away.

But wait, maybe I should back up for just a minute…

As you have heard about a thousand times already (from me), I had the day off.  When a friend suggested we get out of the city and go ziplining, I couldn’t help but think “why not?!” (…and “That sounds spontaneous – check!”)  When the alarm clock went off at 6 am and I hit the snooze button though, I wondered if a 6:30 pick up was really the best way to spend my day off.  I eventually coaxed myself out of bed with about 15 minutes to get my act together before I had to walk out the door.  Quickly shooting the person behind the wheel a text not to use big words before 8 am, I grabbed my bag and headed for the elevator.

Conversation was initially slow; I was half asleep and he was maneuvering us out of the city.  The city eventually gave way to a gorgeous drive and, following a latte the size of my head, we fell into something comfortable until we reached our destination.  Before hopping out of the car I traded my Toms for sneakers I could actually hike in, tucked my work blackberry away, and handed him my iPhone for safe keeping.  Between the crisp, early-morning air and the realization that I had nothing more than chapstick on me, a true sense of unplugging from everything and everyone took over.  And it felt amazing.

In a group of 12, we made our way to the Hunter Mountain Summit Lodge  and  I began to wonder what I had gotten myself into as the off-road vehicle threw us around.  When “Zipline Pilot Training School” started, I really started to wonder what I had gotten myself into.  I had no idea how much of an “extreme thrill” situation I was about to find myself in…

A chill ran the entire length of my body as I took in the absolutely breathtaking view from the top of that mountain.  Equally relevant, I began to understand the full magnitude of what we were about to do.   My hands began to sweat when I realized that no matter how much I strained my eyes, I couldn’t see our destination platform which was on another mountain over 3200 feet away.  The “zzzzzzzhhh” of the actual line as two of our guides zipped across only elevated my uncertainty.  They quickly became smaller and smaller specks in the air, eventually disappearing entirely.  I just could not imagine how I was going to find the nerve to take the “spirited step” necessary to launch myself off that platform.  And if I did, could I easily get myself into the required cannonball position?  Would I pick up enough speed to get across?  Would that latte stay down?  (Unsightly, yes, but I actually thought it!)  And if I did pick up enough speed, would I be able to slow down as I approached the opposite mountaintop?  Would I lose a finger in the block-stopping contraption that awaited me on the other side?  (Jeez, and when exactly did ziplining become a metaphor for the greater uncertainty that is my life?!)

Like many things in my life, stubbornness and a competitive streak won out.  I told this person standing on a mountaintop next to me that I would go zipling and I was going to jump…err, sorry “step spiritedly.”  (That and the 4-hour hike down the mountain should I choose to back out sounded about as much fun as that 6 am alarm…)  Then we heard the words, “3…2…1…zip away!”  Within a split second, now or never became now.

Not fully appreciating that I would be 300 feet above the ground within three seconds of my spirited step, I took a deep breath and just went for it.  And it was incredible!  On that first side-by-side zipline we reached almost 50 mph and peaked 600 feet above the valley!   Quickly getting my body into the cannonball position, I set aside my concern about making it across; I was flying.  Treetops sped by; silence took over except for the sound of the vibrating line; wind was converging on me from every angle.  I quickly loosened my grip and allowed myself to relax and take in the experience, which is ultimately just indescribable.

Slightly spontaneous, right?!

At the second platform I was still shaking but it wasn’t from nerves anymore; excitement and adrenaline dominated  A total of five lines, ultimately soaring across a combined 4.6 miles of zipline (plus a 500 foot burma bridge!) and…..well, CHECK!

(And for the record, because I of course made a competition of it, I crossed three of the five ziplines first!  He’ll tell you he earned extra points for style and sheer “awesomeness” but I was watching said “awesomeness” from the ground.  Oh, and I may or may not have yelled “See ya, sucker!” as I sped by on the third line.  I’m such a lady sometimes…)

The pictures don’t do this experience justice but here’s a glimpse:

So, something spontaneous and out of my comfort zone?  Well, if you’ve been paying attention to pronouns you know I went ziplining with a guy.  Yes, this guy.  Yes, the guy my mother recently referred to as “I’ve heard that name more than once.”

I was still harnessed on the final zipline when we decided our nerves were in dire need of a beer.  At a little dive in Hunter, my hand continued to shake with adrenaline each time I picked up that coveted beer.  To my competitive relief, so did his.  It took a few beers and a bit of initial dancing around a discussion we had unexpectedly had earlier that week, but we eventually settled in for a really great afternoon.  There’s something to be said about being hours outside the city with the hustle of it all the farthest thing from your mind.  And, for myself, there’s something to be said about taking that spirited step- on and off the zipline.

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3 Responses to “A spirited step”

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