Thursday, May 31, 2012


Coon Bluff
 My niece Lisa sent out invitations for friends and family to go rappelling at Coon Bluff off of the Salt River north of Mesa. I’ve never been rappelling.

I know. It’s hard to imagine that I haven’t done this mountain-descending activity. I mean, every Scout group and every Young Women’s group for ages gets the opportunity at summer camp. Yearly.

It’s not my fault that I haven’t been. I’m not sure they’d even invented rappelling yet when I was going to girl’s camp. They had invented scissors though, and the television. So, regardless of what my children think, I’m not ancient.
Friends and family
Anyway, back to the rappelling. I was feeling adventurous so I wanted to go. The mountain—or rather, the bluff—was steep and tall. But, I had decided to do it. It would be fun. I asked my son if he was going. He used to rappel all the time.

“I quit doing that,” he said. “I know too many people who have died rappelling. One guy broke his back and is paralyzed.”

Lisa, me, Cristie
I had a hard time believing that twelve-year-olds around the globe would be allowed, and even encouraged, to go rappelling if it was that dangerous. So I went anyway. My sons went to watch.

I climbed to the top of the mountain [bluff], which was an adventure in itself. Treacherous, even. And hot. We went out at noon. YIKES!! Talk about crawling around on hot rocks. It was practice for walking on hot coals like they do in India.

After getting to the top, I wanted to be first. I always like to be first, and this day I had two reasons: 1. Do it before I thought about it. 2. It was freaking hot, and no shade at the top.

While we waited for three teens to take their turn—they’d been waiting for their turn for [ever]—the niece that went up with me, Cristie, chickened out. “Oh well,” I thought. “She’ll miss out on all the fun.” Haha. Funny, that.

When it came to my turn, I suited up, and the two men helping at the top showed me how to hold the rope. “Lean back,” they said.

I looked over the edge. Hmmm! “Let me practice.”

“No problem. We want you to be comfortable.”

Comfortable is sitting at home in my PJ’s and eating ice cream.

I started at the beginning of the rope, leaned backward, and pulled the rope while walking backwards toward the cliff’s [bluff’s] edge. I got clear to the edge. My husband saw my bootie hanging over, but the rest never came.
Me from the backside.

As long as I could see where my feet were supposed to go, I was okay. But there was a little lip between the top and the side.

Visions of something VERY PAINFUL entered my mind. I couldn’t step where I couldn’t see. I took my glasses off. I put my glasses on. My eyes were sweaty and I couldn’t see well either way. My arms shook. Finally, I found safer ground, took my harness off, and handed it to the next eager thrill-seeker.

I learned that I’m not as adventurous as I had previously thought. I will: Give birth seven times—go hiking desert trails, in the heat—camp in freezing weather—go tubing down the river—go canoeing—give talks to large congregations—and teach my peers.

But I won’t walk backwards off a cliff.
My son, RJ, doing what I couldn't.
(BTW: skydiving doesn’t interest me either.) 


Debra Erfert said...

So? You didn't rappel? Shoot! But you got close to the edge, much closer than I would've got. ;)

Heidi L. Murphy said...

It's that first step. After that, it's all knee-thumpin' fun. And you've gotta JUMP backwards off the cliff. The only thing is that you've got to get your feet perpendicular to the cliff or you'll face plant into the side.

AND if you flip upside down (like we did) you have to make sure that your long pony tail that you've carefully stuffed down your shirt doesn't fall out and get all caught in the caribbeaner (or however the heck you spell it after 35 iterations of the stupid word), like mine did. That was massively painful! My friend had to climb down and hold me while I tore my hair back out.

Tina Scott, the writing artist said...

There was a gal several years ago that had the ponytail getting stuck in the gear problem. Her brother held her up while they waited for help. Maybe they have a bunny slope somewhere that I could try first.

JoAnn Arnold said...

What an exciting adventure. I congratulate you on the bravery you displayed.

Joyce P Smith said...

Yup, WAY braver than me! No way I'm going to even climb up there with my feet as bad as they've been. Too bad, so sad!!!
BUT Congratulations are in order for the attempt at least! Waaa hooo for Tina!!! :OD

Valerie Ipson said...

I'm a firm believer that rappelling down a mountain is not necessary for proving one's worth or courage! You're awesome whether you finished the task or not. :)