I ended up in a bit of a knot on this one…

Guest post: Low Ropes

Today’s blog is a guest post from Marz of Shutter and Ink fame. Marz is a tiny bit cool. She’s a writer, photographer and the kind of all-round adventurer you’d want on your side in a zombie apocalypse.

I’ve been trying to write about an adventure for a while now, since my friend Jay here asked me to write a post for his blog. You see, I’m always having adventures in my life, bite-sized ones, but I rarely write about them. Don’t ask me why. They seem, I don’t know, way too domestic, or something.

However, last weekend, I went out on an adventure day. Now, is there any better excuse to finally write a post on the subject?

 Very early in the morning…
Very early in the morning…

Despite the fact that I had to wake up unnaturally early for a Saturday, I was quite excited about the day.

I packed a change of clothes and some lunch, and set off to meet the rest of the group.

The day consisted of different activities we would enjoy in groups. Our group’s first activity was Low Ropes – I believe that’s the name, anyway, it looked more like one of Takeshi’s Castle games, to be honest.

There is a course of ropes to test your balance and coordination, ranging in difficulty. We started with some easy ones, on the ground area, to get used to it. Moving from one platform to another while balancing on a wire was relatively easy. You just need to hop on the wire, and hold onto the ropes for balance and support. Simples!

I ended up in a bit of a knot on this one…
I ended up in a bit of a knot on this one…

Once we mastered the easy ones, we moved up on difficulty. Now, water was involved. The first one consisted on a series of tyres forming a bridge. The first couple of tyres were above ground, but then the rest of the bridge was above shallow water. You were supposed to walk on the middle, stepping where both tyres joined. I waited for my turn, watching others walk on the bridge with more or less ease. I set off, and after walking a bit on the bridge, as soon as the water was below me, I realised that the tyres were quite wobbly, and it was quite early in the morning, the water looked cold and after all, I didn’t want to be the first one falling down, so I decided it was best to crawl on my fours for the

rest of the bridge. Seriously, my balance is bad, and I’m a bit of a chicken!

Better safe than sorry?
Better safe than sorry?

One of the bridges was quite tricky. It consisted of a wire, again, and a long low hanging rope with no tension at all. The difficulty was in managing to distribute your weight between the wire and the rope, without pushing the latter outwards, which would result in you being completely sprawled, losing your balance and falling face down in the water. I somehow managed to tense the rope somewhat with one hand, while using the other one for support and direction.

Two kids did go in, I’m guessing because they were too short and couldn’t reach both the rope and the wire comfortably, and two of my friends almost fell in as well. We were all in tears with laughter, but we managed to pass this obstacle with some dignity.

The last one of the Low Ropes activity was to involve tyres again, this time as swings. The idea was to lower ourselves from a platform onto one of the tyres, hold the single rope and swing ourselves back and forth to the next one. I lowered myself onto the first tyre with some resemblance of success. Stepping into the next one was relatively easy, but I still struggled a bit. The third tyre proved a task for me. Here, I have to let you guys know I don’t have any strength on my arms whatsoever, so I was already quite tired. At some point, it seems I did manage, so I was now on the fourth one. Then, as much as I tried to grab for the next rope, I never managed to reach it. The tyre wasn’t swinging at all, and I was scared I would lose my balance. Finally, for some reason, and mainly due to tired arms, I somehow ended sitting on the tyre.

I stretched my arm and reached the next rope. Great! I was now sitting on two tyres! Now what? I thought… Well, somehow, I managed to get rid of the fourth tyre, and was now sitting on the fifth one. I managed to stand up, but was losing the balance (it’s very possible I got my soles wet, or maybe I’m just that clumsy). I think I did stand up completely, and even try to reach for the next rope, without success. Thanks to the two kids falling in the water earlier, I knew the pond was extremely cold, so I was going to try a bit more. Nothing, there was no way I could reach the rope and make the transition between swings. My arms were extremely tired by now, so I tried to rest them a bit by lowering myself again and staying on a crouch. As soon as I got into this position, my balance got a bit wobbly and ended up having to sit down on the tyre again, legs up so as to not get my trousers wet. I tried to lift myself up again, but couldn’t find the strength.

Everyone in my group was cheering me and encouraging me to keep going, while my friend, who was on a tyre behind me, was laughing and telling me to go on quickly. I looked at my friend, at the group safely on the platform, at the water, and saw it clearly: I was never going to make it. No matter how long it took me, and trust me, it would have taken me hours, I simply didn’t have the strength to go on.

At that point I thought: rather than falling into the water by surprise and accident, I rather do it on my terms. I said: I think I’m going in, and so I did.

I’m just going to let myself go down quietly…
I’m just going to let myself go down quietly…

The water was cold. It was freezing. I felt the air being pushed out of my lungs, and the cold shooting up my spine. I shouted “Oh f***, it’s cold” and started shivering and swearing. I swam as I could to the bank, and couldn’t get out for a moment, as my trainers were getting stuck on the mud, so I couldn’t get a proper grip. Finally, the instructor came to give me a hand and I managed to get out, completely soaked and cold.

It turns out, one of my friends had also gone down, but I didn’t even notice. I was too busy trying to survive myself!

Now, I know what you might be thinking. You’re thinking I gave up, but I must disagree. True, I decided to let go, but there is no shame in giving up when you know you’ve lost the battle. I could have persisted on my task, only to fall minutes later, but when you know it’s a lost cause, it’s better to withdraw and keep the energy for something you actually have a chance in.

All in all, the Low Ropes challenge was truly entertaining. We laughed a lot and learnt about different skills and team effort. I will train to get better and learn how to use my strength more effectively, and will definitely try it again!

After a change of clothes, we then proceeded to the rest of the activities, which consisted of Abseiling, Archery and Caving, but those are stories for another time…

*Please note that due to a sheer panic of falling, and not paying attention to anything but not falling in the water, the true account of each transition between tyres might differ slightly!

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