This Canada Day weekend, or Independence Day weekend for my American friends, my family decided to head to Horseshoe Valley for a weekend hanging out with my dad’s best friend, and also facing our fears. You see, I really wanted to go tree trekking and rock climbing, while my dad really wanted to try zip-lining. So, on Saturday, we did them all.

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The zip-lining was speed controlled, and we were mostly sitting in a chair, so the staircases we had to climb to get to the top of the zip-line was probably the scariest part.

After a quick lunch, we went to sign waivers and get harnessed in for the tree trekking. Both my parents, my brother, and his girlfriend all did it together with me.  It all felt very familiar, because with the exception of my parents, we had all been tree trekking last summer. The reason why I was so intent on coming back this year, other than the fact that it is exhilirating and empowering to face your fears, is because last year, I fell. Falling isn’t bad in these courses, because you are strapped in and you just hang there until you get yourself back up. The problem was that last year, I hadn’t really been able to pull myself up. I managed, eventually, but it was really hard, I used up a lot of arm strength, and the rest of the course was much more difficult because of it, until we dropped out before the last circuit.

This time, I went in knowing that I have been working on my upper body strength, and towards being comfortable with being uncomfortable, so I went first. Out of my little group, I was the first to try the obstacles, with no one to tell me how to do the hard ones. Instead, I warned the others and gave them advice on the hard stuff.

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It was when we got to the Tarzan rope that I realized something very important. The rope was the closest we had come to the obstacle where I had fallen the year before, although it was a much smaller distance. Still, it was the first time I would be faced with an obstacle entirely reliant upon my arms holding me up. I was terrified before jumping, but once I was done, it felt like nothing. Why had that seemed so scary moments before?

When my mom came up to do it after me, the guy who had done the demonstration for us at the beginning told her she was at the scariest part. And that’s when it clicked. The scariest part is rarely doing whatever it is that scares you. It is the moment you decide whether or not you will. Whether it is jumping into a freezing pool, swinging across a void or doing improv in front of a group of strangers…I always find it scariest right before I jump, or raise my hand to volunteer. Once you are in the air, you can’t back down, you just need to follow through. But in the moment before your feet stop touching the ground, when you still have the option of turning around…that is the scariest part. Because you don’t just have to do it, you have to convince yourself not to turn around and give up.

 

After the rope, and many other scary obstacles, we finished the course, with me, my dad and my brother going all the way to the last possible course that we could do.  Afterwards, we escaped a maze and played mini-putt, and we also did some rock-climbing. My dad, brother and I were racing to the top, and made it about half way when we all 3 decided to give up. Safety in numbers, you know? I said I could have gone to the top if I had access to more grips, which I believed, although I was slightly nervous when my dad told me to do it. I know I would have been really disappointed in myself for giving up, and I now knew what it would feel like if I fell, since we had sort of let ourselves fall down, so I went for it. It didn’t feel like long when I was doing it, but watching the video, some steps took forever. Still, I made it to the very top. Of a kid’s rock-climbing wall, as some liked to point out before we attempted it, but I am still incredibly proud of myself. I had an awesome time, and felt nearly invincible when the day was done. Except for anything that requires arm strength, because I had no more of that 😉

 

“Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it.”

-Judy Blume

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