About a week before heading into the Costa Rican ziplining adventure I previously wrote about, I went rappelling (canyoneering) through waterfalls with my brother. I had bought him a Groupon pass for two through SoCal Adventure Company (assuming he would invite me to be his plus one) as a Christmas gift, because it seemed like something he would like to do and I had always wanted to try it, which sounds totally selfish now that I write this, but I honestly did think it would be a fun activity for us to do together. And for those of you who focused on nothing in the previous sentence except the word “Groupon” in conjunction with an extreme sport, let me reassure you: just because an activity is being offered at a discounted price does not mean it’s suddenly more dangerous than it was pre-sale. My odds of injury do not increase just because I paid less money than the guy before me. Trust me: I used one to go sky diving, saved $100, and am now both still alive and $100 richer. And if you’re really worried about dying from an activity, why would you want to pay more money to do so anyway?
While I bought the pass for him (err, us) as a Christmas gift, the weather didn’t cooperate for a few months, so after our initial session was cancelled due to rain, we finally made it out to the Mt. Baldy area at the beginning of April. The weather was mild and sunny, our instructor was cool, and the majority of our group was too, with the exception of one girl who was deathly afraid of heights and managed to have about 20 panic attacks throughout the day. I do give her props for facing her fears head-on though and she did eventually manage to make it very, very slowly down each rappel, so good on her.
Unlike Ms. Acrophobia, I had zero issues swinging myself over the mountain’s ledge and blindly trusting that those little steel rods in the rock would keep me from plummeting to my death. After all, I was wearing the equivalent of a toddler’s bike helmet on my head, so obviously even if my ropes were to slip I would be quite safe falling hundreds of feet into a canyon. Okay, none of that is true. Was I scared? Sure. Was I going to show that I was scared and let that fear stop me? Not a chance.
Anytime I try a new activity, I always wonder if it will be one that I’m naturally great at. Like you hop on a surfboard for the first time and instantly you’re ripping through barrels all Kelly Slater-style. It can happen, right? Well as it turns out, while I’m no X-gamer yet, I am pretty decent at rappelling. Or at least quick at it. Apparently scampering down the side of a mountain comes naturally to me. Although it might have been because after the first few runs through icy waterfalls, I was soaking wet and so cold that I was breaking canyoneering speed records just so that I could get back to my brother’s car and crank the heater.
Either way, I had a total blast that day and will definitely do it again. Preferably in the summer. And I learned one thing: turns out that wearing those helmets has little to do with saving your noodle during a fall. Halfway through the day, we stopped for lunch and although our instructor had told us to keep our helmets on AT ALL TIMES because of potential rock slides, my brother and I were just about to take them off when we heard a sharp crack above our heads. Suddenly, before we had time to react, a huge boulder the size of a beach ball came careening down the side of the mountain wall right next to us and smashed into the ground inches from where my brother was sitting, shooting large rocks everywhere. Spooky. Always wear your brain buckets, kids.