The first step is the hardest; Stony assured me as I skeptically peered down the red Aztec sandstone that the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada is named for.
I had just finished doing a High Ropes Course in nearby Overton with Awesome Adventures. Despite my whole body shaking, I navigated the course, one shuffled step at a time across wires the same thickness as my pinky finger. One breath at a time, I had learned to trust myself. To discover that I was stronger than what I had been previously believed. I’m not sure if I can do this, changed to I think I can do this to I know I can do this to I’m actually doing this.
But as I peered way down, my confidence acquired earlier that morning disappeared. The I don’t think I can do this voice was like a record on repeat. Stoney directed me to a 10-meter (3 ft) pitch where I would learn the basics of rappelling – bum out, feet flat on the rock. My arms were shaking as I grabbed the rope. Again, Stoney advised when I had made it the bottom. Until after several tries, satisfied with the progress I made, it was time for the real deal – the 40-meter (120 ft) cliff.
My heart was beating as fast as if I had just finished a sprint. My arms were shaking as David double checked my harness and Stoney disappeared over the edge. I was in very good hands, David was supporting me from the top and Stoney from the bottom.
I reminded myself that although this was my first time rappelling in the wild, I had done it from the Euromast in Rotterdam, the highest abseil in Europe. I knew from experience that the first step was the hardest. It would become easier after those first initial timid steps.
Still, there is something very unnatural about stepping off a cliff. Every cell in your body screams “Don’t do it, you’re going to die!”
Pushing the You’re going to die voice aside, I ever so slowly crept towards the edge. I hesitantly placed one foot half off the edge. Pause. Deep breath. Another 3 inches. Pause. Deep breath. A few slow unsteady steps later, I was off the edge. My life literally hanging by a rope for dear life. My heart was still thumping, but in an excited Ahhh, this is sooo much fun kind of way now.
I’m alive! I’m alive! Isn’t this what life is all about? Living. I mean really living where every cell in your body is on full alert.
Check out the video below for the full experience.
As adrenaline flowed through my veins, I made it to the bottom. I had no idea how long it took but later found out it was about 90 seconds. Time seemed to have stood still. All that mattered was where I placed my foot next. Nothing else. I still feel the buzz and the butterflies in my stomach, just from watching the video. It’s one of those moments in life where you are conscious of what it feels like to be really alive and to really live.
When’s the last time you felt truly alive?
Know Before You Go Rappelling in Valley of Fire State Park with Awesome Adventures:
- Valley of Fire State Park is located ~ 45 minutes from Las Vegas.
- It costs $149 with Awesome Adventures and includes two rappels and a visit to the Petroglyphs.
- While rappelling is challenging – mentally more than physically, Awesome Adventures has a Challenge by Choice philosophy. You will be pushed outside of your comfort zone, but not more than you choose to be. The owner, of Awesome Adventures, Stoney, is also a life coach. He has a way of knowing how much to push you, and when it’s enough. He’s installed his philosophy in all of the ACCT Certified Facilitators. You can hear him cheering me on in the video.
- By overcoming your fear of stepping off the cliff, you’ll gain the confidence to overcome fear in other areas of your life as well.
Disclosure: Many thanks to Awesome Adventures for making my Ropes Course possible. As always, all opinions are my own.