Monica Gerdeman: All for a serious fear of falling
Wednesday, August 08, 2012 12:59 AM
PUTNAM COUNTY - I first found my fear of heights when I was seven years old at the old COSI museum in Fort Wayne, Ind. My parents cheered me on as I stepped onto the bike that was to ride on the rope several stories above the ground. I started pedaling when all of the sudden I looked down. I was frozen for what seemed to be an hour. About 10 minutes later the guy running the ride helped to coach me back to the railed edge and I quickly jumped off and back down to solid ground. This year I am 24 and I finally revisited my deepest fear.
Last weekend, my future in-laws and I went on vacation to Hocking Hills. Five months ago, our reservations were made for not only a cabin but also the Hocking Hills Zip-line Canopy Tour. For those five months I pushed the thought of flying 85 feet in the air, on what I thought was going to be a little "rope," out of my mind.
When Friday finally rolled around, my future family and I geared up and got ready to go. Our first zip was literally six feet above the ground. Our tour guides Brandy and Taylor wanted to be sure we all knew the rules of gliding, breaking, coasting, and how they would properly harness us to each line. As I stepped up to the top step, Taylor attached me to the 10 foot line and I started to glide. As I accomplished my first zip, I had no idea how I was going to do this 85 feet in the air.
After a long ride, on the cart up the trail to the starting position, we got more instructions, and before we were allowed to start, our guide asked us who was the most afraid of heights. Although no one said a word, the other five all looked at me.
Now let's get this straight, Hocking Hills is not going to let anyone fall. They have 300 people go through their business day at around $100 per person. I believe this fact alone helped me with my fear.
When we got to the top, our gear was immediately attached to the cables at the top. This too relieved some of my anxiety. Our first task was to place our toes on the edge of the platform and lean back off the edge as far as our lanyards would allow us to lean. But when Brandy said "Let go," I just couldn't.
We were then attached to our first Zip. I was third in our line of six, and because I knew I had no other choice, I took myself to the top step of the two stair step stool, waiting on Taylor to attach me to the cable and without another thought I took my feet above the ground.
I was amazed! I was literally zipping. I knew I wasn't 85 feet in the air, but each zip got higher and faster as we went along. The longest Zip was nearly 547 feet between platforms.
The last task I had was to cross a rope bridge toward the end of the coarse. Mostly because it's an unstable walking ground, suspended high in the air, rope bridges fall into my 'I'm afraid of heights category.' When we got to this particular bridge, our guides dared us to walk all the way across without touching the sides. Needless to say I completed this task. I was the last one across the bridge, but I never once touched the rope railing.
Overall I would recommend zip-lining to any one for a great vacation, but I would also tell anyone who has a fear like I do to give it a try. It was something to help me overcome my fear, and if not forever, I was not afraid for that three hours of my life.