July 6th, 2010
When I look back on some of the coolest brag worthy moments in my life, my list has to include skydiving, touching Prince’s leg at a concert, visiting the set of Arrested Development, and winning the National Spelling Bee in ’97 (I’m a very enthusiastic speller) But recently, I added another one to my list: rappelling down a waterfall.
Colombia has endless entertainment possibilities (especially when it comes to the outdoors) such as biking, hiking, dancing, diving, caving, zip lining, paragliding, cow milking, etc., but I had never even considered that rappelling down a waterfall was an activity that existed. That was until my adventurous friend Ashley demanded that we do it when she visited us this past spring. Conveniently, the waterfall rappelling goes down (pun!) in Támesis, a small town near my family’s finca, so repeat trips can easily be made.
Our rappelling adventure was made possible by our guide, Rodrigo, a modern-day Tarzan who knows the surrounding jungle like the back of his hand and shimmies up rock walls like he’s climbing a ladder. He was the first to attempt rappelling the waterfalls around Támesis back in the day, therefore the whole town used to think he was crazy. But thanks to his pioneering ways he is creating new job opportunities for the town’s youth as Támesis becomes known as the adventure sports hub in Colombia.
The day began with Rodrigo fitting us for equipment and eating a healthy breakfast of fruit and coffee (I skipped the coffee…the sound of a waterfall plus a full bladder equals bad times for my pants.) The first half of the trail to the waterfall was on a cobbled road of rocks made by natives a thousand years ago—talk about durability! We made a pit stop at a gazebo mid way up the mountain where Rodrigo taught us some of the rappelling basics which we tested out on the side of the gazebo.
The second half of the trail led us into a cloud forest and was much more difficult thanks to steep and muddy conditions. Rodrigo instructed us to have a hand on a steady branch, root, or rock at all times. I was glad I heeded his advice when my foot slipped off the edge of the trail and the root in my hand was the only thing saving me from some serious breaks and bruises.
After nearly 2 hours of hiking we arrived at a small, flat landing next to the waterfall where we would begin our 230 foot decent down the cascade. But we weren’t any where near the top of the waterfall; 330 feet of rushing water towered above us. Rodrigo told us that second-timers could start from the very top, something to look forward to some day!
Fed and rested, it was time for the main event. Ashley was giddy and nervous because this was her first time rappelling, let alone waterfall rappelling. Thankfully we were going at the same time so I could give her tips and help her out if she was having trouble. I went over the edge first, and it took me being suspended over the rushing water for the reality of what we were doing to finally hit me. Hello adrenaline!
One good thing about having me around is that if there is a way to get hurt I will unintentionally find it so others can avoid it, which is what I did almost immediately when my foot slipped on a rock and my entire left leg disappeared into a hole. I tried not to think about what kinds of creepy crawly creatures were living in the hole and I managed to get out with a couple of souvenir scrapes. Ashley was able to avoid my mistake and we made our way down smoothly, taking time to zig zag across the fall and feel the weight of the water crashing down on our legs. The strength of the pounding water was invigorating and intimidating; truly a unique experience!
Ashley was kind enough to provide me with some laughs when she attempted to go over a ledge in the most awkward way possible and got stuck doing the splits. It’s hard to explain so here’s Ashley re-enacting it at the end of our climb:
Like all good things, it was over too soon and we were sad when we reached the bottom of the waterfall. Needless to say we would have repeated the experience in a heartbeat and I fully intend to rappel again, but this time from the top!
Now I know a picture is worth a thousand words, but how many words is a video worth? Why don’t you tell me after you watch my first attempt at making a video with iMovie. I spent a lot of hours on this, so even if you don’t watch it, tell me you did!
Leave comments below about your best brag worthy moment!
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