Sixty Feet High (July/August 2012)
by Katie G., age 11, New Hampshire
"Great job, Hannah!" I cheered as she came down. I gave her a high five when she reached the ground from the bridge high above.
"Thanks," she said. "Your turn!"
My sixth-grade class was on a field trip to Camp Lincoln in New Hampshire. During our stay we did orienteering, archery, a nature walk, and a low ropes course. There was also an amazing high ropes course, and the Indiana Jones Bridge was the very highest part.
I had wanted to try it ever since we'd arrived at Camp Lincoln. The Indiana Jones Bridge was 60 feet in the air; the next-highest structure was 20 feet lower. The bridge was made with little tiny planks to step on and large gaps in between them. Being a thrill seeker, I knew it would give me the deliciously terrifying rush of adrenaline I craved. It's just so great to know that whether you succeed or fail, it's all because of your own effort.
In my group of 20 or so students, only about five attempted the bridge. I had already seen two people go across the bridge without much effort, so I was confident that I could make it across easily. After I was belted into my too-tight harness, I started to climb.
Up, up, up I went. The wooden pole I was climbing swung back and forth, which was fairly scary. My confidence started to drain a little. When I had finally climbed the 60 feet to the top, I stepped onto the first plank and took in my surroundings.
I slowly moved across the bridge, holding the rope that my belayer also held far below, keeping me from being a splat on the ground. Sometimes I held it with one hand, sometimes with two. At one point, I looked down.
That was a big mistake. Looking at the ground from so high above was dizzying. Suddenly, all the bright sights and loud sounds from the ground, which I had hardly noticed before, became clear.
I could see the top of the climbing wall, which had seemed so high before. I could hear people cheering for the person on the climbing wall. But no one was cheering for me! To mask my fear of being so high, I yelled down, "Can I get some cheering? No one is cheering for me!"
My friends snapped into action. "Go Katie, go Katie, go, go, go Katie!" The cheering was spreading like wildfire through the high-ropes area.
Finally, I reached the end of the bridge. My belayer shouted up: "All right, now turn around and come back to the middle of the bridge!"
Really? I thought. Are you kidding me? I hadn't known that was coming! As a matter of fact, I couldn't have been more surprised if she had asked me to hop in a yellow rocket with pink polka dots and head to Saturn for a gallon of lemonade!
Slow and steady steps got me back to the middle of the bridge. When I got there, I turned my back to my belayer and yelled, "Falling!" She answered, "Fall away!" She bounced me on the way down, and I was giggling happily the whole way.
As soon as I reached the ground, I thought: I'm definitely doing that again!