Suspended in the Air: Rappelling Down Utah's Intimidating Cliffs - My Family Travels
Hiking to the Rappelling Site
Rappelling Down the Cliff
Rappelling Down the Cliff

Sweat pours down my tanned face under the relentless Utah sun.  I am hiking to the rappelling site in Moab, Utah, near Arches National Park.  My back sticks to my shirt, and my legs burn in agony.  Surrounded by sand, moss, and the similar struggles of my friends, I reach for the water bottle in my backpack and sip that cool refreshing water.  However, the last thing I am worrying about is the heat, or the sweat, or the soreness.  I worry whether I can conquer the rappelling challenge.  I continue to hike as I see my friends go through similar predicaments—the lip-biting, heavy breathing, and fear in their eyes reveals their inner conflict.  In what seems like seconds, I look ahead, and realize that I am ten feet away from a four-hundred foot drop.


A lump goes down my throat as I contemplate.  Should I go through with this challenge?  I am not usually one to back away from challenges—no, usually I love the thrill of testing my own limits.  But all that bravado goes down the sink and into the sewer when the only reassurance you have is a rope tied to a tree and our guide.

Crying, one of my friends walks away, too afraid to go through with rappelling down this cliff.  I am secretly relieved as I plan to join him. I didn’t want to be alone.  Four more see the boy’s uneasiness, and they too all backed away into a group hiding behind the tree.  As I prepare to join them, I see my father confidently grasping the rope, and disappear over the edge

I’m not sure how exactly I mustered the courage to traverse across that cliff.  Maybe it was my pride, too resolute to give up.  Maybe it was the support from my friends, who help me beat my inner challenges every day.  Maybe I just wanted to see my father’s proud eyes gleam at me. 

“Don’t look down!” the guide chuckles as I immediately glance down.  The intimidating cliff stares up at me, and threatens to swallow me at the first mistake.  I gulp, feeling more sweat soak my shirt.  This time, it’s not from the heat.

Slowly, I start climbing down, inching my way down the cliff.  I’ve scratched my hands dozens of times by now, but I’m too scared to care.  One, two, three, one . . . I chant in my head.  I grow more confident, traveling faster as I start to get the hang of it.

“There’s a bump coming up!” my father yells from below.  I nod my awareness, and shuffle my way across the bump.  I feel a pressure on my waist and realize that I am floating.  The rope is carrying all of weight now as I hover above the ground.  I look around, and take in the natural beauty.  This wasn’t a sight I expected myself to enjoy.  I was so used to clichéd sunrise landscapes and sparkling water that I didn’t realize I was getting bored of it all.  This nature suited me better: the rustic tan-colored mountains, the bright sun shining on murky water, the crisp blue sky; I took it all in.

Without realizing it, my feet touch the ground beneath me.  My friends swarm around me, patting me on the back.  I take in a deep breath as my father congratulates me. I thought that I would be a nervous wreck.  I thought that it would feel like forever, that it would be the worst experience of my life.  The truth is; it happened too fast.


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