Orono Maine might not be one of the most exciting towns in the world but it does have the MAINEBound Adventure Center on the University of Maine Campus and it was there that I climbed my first rock wall.
Yes, that's clumsy me up there dangling on that wall, a true Gumby (which I just
learned is the term for an inexperienced climber).
(click on the pic for a larger view)
My hands were quivering under the strain of pulling and reaching for grips above my head and I had to stretch my legs farther than any lunge I've ever done in aerobics class, to go from one foot anchor to the next. But I did it. Twice!
What I think I loved most is the feeling of lifting my full weight, against the pull of gravity, with only the power of my arms and legs. Having been a competitive swimmer, I know the feeling of propelling myself forward. And as scuba diver, I've used fins (and weight belts) to drive myself down, but never have I used my own strength to lift myself up, way up.
Thankfully Nicole was playing the role of belay slave and even though she was half my height and less than half my age, she was on the ground, tethered to me with ropes and a harness of her own to protect me from a potentially painful fall. If I wanted to go higher though, the best she could do was point out a good-looking anchor and yell up encouraging words. To actually climb, well, that was up to my arms, legs and whether my brain could convince my limbs that the next move was a wise one.
Nothing was fast. Each move was methodical, a strain and an achievement. After each move upward, the feelings of safety and curiosity battled for decision making power.
I never fell (or needed Nicole to save me) so safety clearly won the fight (twice). Yet, I never made it to the very top of the wall and now that I'm on the ground again, I can't stop wondering whether I can flash one of the other walls at the MAINEBound Center, by making it all the way to the top in one try.
My curiosity is winning out now so I know I'll definitely be on that wall again soon. I can't wait!
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