I’m going to take a risk here and reveal one of my fears: I’m terrified of deep dark water, especially if I cannot see through it. I mean, just thinking about tipping over in a kayak and having to tread water when I can’t see bottom makes me hyperventilate. Who am I kidding, I’d totally panic.
QUARTER-FINALIST 2015 FTF TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
Well, this past summer I had an opportunity to go camping in the Dolomites of Slovenia with a group of military teens. Sure, I knew the trip involved extensive hiking, rope courses, and other outdoorsy pursuits. However, I hadn’t really factored in how much it would also require jumping into dark blue pools from stories above. After a week and a half of conquering mountains, it was time to face my fear!
Canyoning is walking, scrambling, climbing, jumping, rappelling, and swimming through canyons. I suppose I was naive and didn’t bother reading the description beforehand, but none of my campmates did either. So, without further ado, here’s how it went:
8:00am Get into van with Adventure TrekTrek who would guide us through the canyon. Hide grumpiness from counselor.
8:45am Arrive at clearing and struggle to get into wetsuits. I mean, almighty struggling because those things did not have zippers and were tighter than your own skin. Pick up a harness and helmet before making sure your friend is alright (mostly complain to her).
9:00am Walk towards canyon. Mindlessly babble to distract yourself from the sweat sliding down inside the wetsuit as you near the point of no return.
9:15am Feel more and more nervous as the guides explain rappelling to you, and you realize backup lines aren’t used like when you went rock climbing. That’s fine they say, all falls end in water. You look over the ledge. The water is crystal clear, so in your head, it’s all good—until you start rappelling down the first slope and all you can think is: Dear God, please don’t let me slip.
9:30am Yelp and mutter curse words as you drop into freezing water.
9:35am Curse as the German lady behind rappels past you.
9:45am Get to the first jump; no big deal. Just jump, doggie paddle over to the rocks close by and climb out.
10:00am Arrive at second jump. Oh…wait…the first one wasn’t as high? Okay…well…the pool is much larger and darker than the first one, too. What are all those ripples? The last person who jumped, right? Oh my God it’s so high, so high, and there might be something at the bottom and Jesus ohmygodimjustgoingtojump! *let out girly squeal* Claw to the surface. All around, the water is midnight blue and the craziest ideas about water-borne mishaps start materializing. Crap. That was a rock you just felt, right? Right? Well, at least your friends pull you out, because any second longer and you would’ve flat out panicked.
10:15am The next jump and rappelling are MUCH easier. You no longer hyperventilate. You have time to actually talk to others. Everyone agrees he would do this again.
11:00am The last jump is right next to a gorgeous waterfall. All you can think about is how wonderful a waterproof camera would be.
That’s how canyoning went for me. The sense of achievement I felt as I laid in the sun trying to warm up again was tremendous, and well worth the moments of panic in the water. So face your fears—it’s all worth it for that patch of sun in the end.
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