“…the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Today was the company outing with my new employer. Not just the claims department, but everyone: HR, marketing, and underwriting included. Everyone from our president/CEO, down to an underwriting employee who’s only been with the company for 3 weeks.
The outing took place as the US National Whitewater Center. It’s not too far from downtown Charlotte and is open year round. They have mountain bike and hiking trails, kayaking, whitewater rafting, canoeing, rock all climbing, rope courses, and zip lines. Aside from the biking, these are activities that make me face two big fears: heights and water.
We had to sign up for our passes ahead of time. You could get one that allowed you to participate in all activities, or just land and flatwater activities. I chose the latter. My unit leader – a real workout/athletic person – tried to convince me to participate in the white water rafting, but I had to decline. I haven’t started my lessons with Tri It For Life. I figured, one thing at a time.
Our outing was scheduled for 10:00am to 3:00pm. Upon arrival we had to sign in, turn in our waiver forms, and pick up our wristbands. The wristbands were used to determine which activities we were signed up for. After doing that, I headed down the stairs to start my adventure. The first thing I saw as the rock climbing walls:
Several of my coworkers were climbing already. Guess they got there early!
I looked around and saw people scattered here and there. I talked to one of the HR reps who had been walking the perimeter trail for exercise, so I chatted with her for a bit. She decided to do another lap, so off she went. At this point, I was at a loss as to what I’d do first. Yeah, you can do activities by yourself, but it’s the kind of thing that’s more fun with a group.
Another supervisor arrived, along with one of her team members. After chatting for a bit, we decided to walk the perimeter as well. The more I looked at the water, I realized I had made the right decision to skip the rafting.
We finished our lap, got something to drink, and then sat at a table to chat. It seems I’d found the one group of ladies who didn’t want to do much. LOL! Well, the unit leader wanted to do the Mega Zip line, but that didn’t open until 1:00pm.
At this point, two workers’ comp reps came by. They said they were going to do the Climb 2 Zip activities. They asked if we wanted to come along and I jumped at the chance. The others stayed behind. I’m so glad I went.
These are two reps I see all the time, and we speak and are cordial, but I don’t get to talk to them otherwise. Two of the nicest folks you’d ever want to meet! On the way, we saw another rep who happens to sit behind me, and he joined our group. If the company wanted us to do some bonding and team building, they were getting their wish.
After gearing up in two harnesses each, we headed up the trail. By this time, one of the WC unit leaders who sits near me had joined us. We were a group of five:
The Climb2Zip activities included three areas: an intermediate rope course, a zip wire that you had to climb up to, and then a beginner’s rope course. We got in line for the zip wire first, and then my unit leader came by. He told us we should try the intermediate rope course. We jumped in line for that, but as I looked up at it, I felt super apprehensive.
The guide talked to us about the course and told us that if we’d like, we could try the beginner’s course first. Kristen and I left the guys in line with their bravado/testosterone, and went to the beginner’s course:
Kristen and told me on the walk over that she was not very athletic and would probably be scared. I figured we’d be okay on the beginner’s course. The guide explained to us at we could do the inner track or the outer track. The outer track was the easiest, according to her, so that’s what we picked.
The first exercise was to climb up a rope net and then proceed over a bridge made of a series of spaced apart planks. I went first. I was sooooo scared, but I figured, now or never! I started climbing and just kept telling myself to breathe and to take it one foot and hand at a time. At the top of the mesh I crossed the bridge. Kristen was coming up behind me.
After the bridge there is a small platform, and then you have to climb across a rope wall.
I ain’t even gonna lie. I looked at that thing and said, “oh hell nawl. What the deuce?” I grabbed my harness rope and decided I’d go through the middle of the course because it looked easier.
Remember I said you and to choose the outside or inside track. You cannot switch tracks mid-activity due to the harnessing system.
insert Florida Evans “dayum, dayum, dayum!” here!
I had no choice but to continue on, either that, or quit. Isn’t that just like life? You get to a difficult part and you have to face your fear and forge ahead…or you can just quit. But then, what would you gain?
I stepped out on the rope and put the death grip at the top with my hands. I just kept the mantra “one step at a time” in my head, and reminded myself that if I DID happen to fall, the harness had me. One deep breath after another, and the next thing you know, I was across!
I reached the next platform and Kristen decided she was not trying to deal with that wall. She told the guide she wanted to get down. The only way to go backwards is if the people behind you go back as well. Lucky for her, there was only one person behind her. She went back and I forged on.
The next track was a system of steps – in the shape of big feet – spaced apart, with a rope up high and a rope at waist height, for you to hold on to. The tricky thing about the “feet” was, you needed to step in the middle, otherwise they would tilt to the side. Found that out on my second step. Thankfully, I had a Kung fu death grip on the roles and I didn’t slip.
After that, it was pretty easy, and as I got towards the end I got so excited! Yes! I did it!
We jumped in line for the climb to the zip wire. Kristen kept vacillating as to whether or not she’d go. I told her I totally understood, but I decided I was going to conquer this fear today, and if she wanted to come along I’d help her. One by one, people climbed up and took the short zip down. the girl who’s only been with the company for three weeks, got to the top and was like, “nah.” she climbed all the way back down. Bless her heart.
I felt buoyed until it was my turn to climb:
Um, that’s pretty high. I made it about 3/4 up and then my sneaker kept getting caught in the dang ropes. I was scared! I did NOT want to fall backwards. I finally made it to the top, and the guide clipped in the zip wire harness. Then she had me sit at the edge of the platform, and explained which ropes to hang on to, which not to touch, she said she would count to three and then I should scoot outward and go. I swear I wanted to tell her to just push me.
I should mention here at Kristen DID make it to the top and she did do the zip wire! So ego crept in and I felt like I HAD to do it. The guide counted to three, and I scooted forward with my eyes closed. But them I opened them and the drop wasn’t so bad.
At that point, it was time for lunch. We took our gear off and headed back. Unfortunately, we missed the group picture. After lunch, the guys had whitewater activities planned, so I chilled out and got some sun and held their stuff. I could’ve climbed the rock walls, but I felt like I’d had enough excitement for the first part of the day. The only thing left was the MegaZip. 1,123 feet of zip wire suspended over part of the whitewater course.
The guys didn’t get off the rafts until 5:00pm, and then we headed to MegaZip. By this time two of our group had left. So it was just the three of us. We climbed the stairs to the tower, and that fear tried to set in again, I squashed it. I was doing this.
There are two parallels lines so two people can go down at once. Terrence got the left line and I got the right. The guide asked if we had done it before and we told him no. As he connected our harnesses he told us which ropes to hold, and how we needed to keep our feet in at the end so that we didn’t kick the guys who were waiting to undo our harnesses.
This take off was far less traumatic than the short zip line. All we had to do was sit back in the harness and then gravity began to pull us down the line:
This was my last activity of the day. I really felt like I accomplished some things today. I didn’t climb the rock walls, but I participated in other activities that tested my faith in myself. In the process I got to know two pretty cool people, whom I don’t get to interact with on a daily basis.
I’d say this was a win all around, and tomorrow the atmosphere at work is going to be charged with stories of our adventures.