Have you ever heard of Canyoneering? For those of you who have no clue what I’m talking about let me enlighten you. Canyoneering is defined in the dictionary as the sport of exploring a canyon by engaging in such activities as rappelling. Canyoneering is a hobby that my whole family enjoys, everyone except for me the scaredy-cat of the family. Call me crazy, but I just don’t find the excitement in standing on the edge of a 150 ft. cliff, walking backwards hoping that my harness which is fastened to a small metal pirana that is attached to the rope will hold all my weight so that I won’t plummet to my death. Before my Dad was introduced to Canyoneering, we used to be a Boating Family. What better hobby is there then one that can help you achieve a Golden Tan. Nothing brings a family closer together than a day on the lake trying to knock each other off the tubes and into the water. I often tell my family to remember when we were a boating family and what fabulous times we had!!!!!! Nobody cares about the good old days of the Lake because they have all become adrenaline junkies and have traded their swimsuits in for harnesses. I have only gone with my family twice on their canyoneering adventurers in the past six years so I decided it was time to try it out again. So I put Canyoneering on my things to do before I’m 31 List and I soon regretted my decision.
Two days before we were supposed to leave on the Canyoneering Adventure I went to my Dad and told him I wasn’t going on the trip. I was really struggling. I was in a serious funk because I just didn’t know my next step Career wise. I had spent hours writing Cover letters and applying for numerous jobs. The job that looked the most promising and I thought I had a good chance of getting ended up telling me they decided to go in a different direction. The only thing worse than personal rejection is professional rejection. It stings when a company tells you that they decided to go with other candidates.
I was discouraged and just felt a lack of identity and most of all I had no clue what I was supposed to do next. I had felt strongly that I needed to quit my job that had employed me for almost six years, so I threw caution to the wind and put in my two weeks’ notice without another job on the line. I had been living up the Hakuna Matata(No Worries) life for a month and was still jobless. I was feeling in the dumps and the last thing I wanted to do was face my fear of heights and strap on a Harness. I would rather stay in my comfort zone and enjoy my pity party just a little longer.
All I remembered from the other times I had been Canyoneering was that I cried a lot and that it took a lot of coaching to help me get down the canyon. I didn’t want to be a burden, and like I said earlier, I just didn’t feel strong enough emotionally to conquer my fear of heights. As I sat in my Dad’s Den two days before the vacation, I explained to him my reasons of why I couldn’t make the trip. He listened to my concerns and my fears and then proceeded to walk me through what I should expect in the Canyons. He explained in the first canyon the first repel would be the most challenging start of all the repels because I would have to climb over a tree and then proceed to stand up and back down the cliff. He then explained that it was a 130 ft. repel and when I had gone down about 60ft I would run out of canyon wall and it was just free fall but that the Belayer(person at the bottom holding the rope) would have the rope and I would be safe. He went on to explain about the equipment and how they set up each repel with anchors and ropes and double checked to make sure that the webbing was done accurately. He told me that he was still afraid of heights but that that he trusted the equipment and the people coming on the trip. I left my talk with my Dad feeling confident that even though the two canyons we would be repelling down wouldn’t be easy, I could do them. I then started to pray really hard that my anxiety would be calmed and that I would be able to trust the equipment and enjoy this experience with my family.
So fast forward to the top of the Canyon of the First Repel. I realized there was a short window of time that I could still back out. There were only two options: I could walk back down the trail and wait by the cars with the cold wind blowing on me for several hours until the group finished, or I could do all 7 repels through the canyon. Both options didn’t sound appealing I should have just stayed at the hotel. Then I heard my Dad call my name, and it was my turn, and I realized that window of opportunity had just closed. As my Dad was checking all my equipment I had my eyes closed. There was no way I was going to catch a glimpse of what was below me. This repel was tricky because you had to go under a branch before you could stand up and start repelling. My brother Kaleb took this awful picture of me, but I wanted to share it because it shows my raw emotions of how terrified I was to start.
My dad saw that my eyes were closed and he told me Stephanie open your eyes. You can’t go down the canyon with your eyes close. For a moment I froze. I thought, THERE IS NO WAY I CAN DO THIS!!!! I just wanted to cry and give up. I felt the anxiety coming on and I was about to back out. Then my wise father calmed me down and told me I could do this. I gave myself a pep talk and told myself I could do hard things and then I said a prayer and stood up and walked backwards. I knew that I couldn’t look down but I caught a blurred glimpse and knew that I was standing on the edge of a huge cliff.
I don’t post a lot of pictures, but I wanted to show the magnitude of the cliff that I was climbing down. I love the picture when I am on the ground because my face just displays how I am feeling inside…WOW, I DID THAT!! Now for some people repelling down a canyon isn’t an impossible task but for me, it was terrifying. The whole weekend was a great reminder to me that I CAN DO HARD THINGS! It was also a great parallel to life. I wonder if before I came down to earth my Heavenly Father listened to all my fears and concerns and told me what I could expect like my earthly Father did that day in his Den.
Often in repelling the person that is belaying is your guide down the canyon. They might tell you to take a few steps in either direction so that they can navigate you safely down the canyon. The Belayer is someone who has just recently come down the canyon, and they are holding the ropes and ready to help at a seconds notice and all you have to yell is BELAY. As I am writing about this experience, another parallel came to me, and that is with the Belayer and the Savior. He has walked our path before us, and he knows us better than anyone else and wants to navigate us in the right direction so that we don’t take the hard routes of life.
Sometimes it might feel like the course the Belayer is telling you to go will take longer than the short cut you would like, but when you finish and see the whole picture, then it is apparent why you needed to follow the Belayer. This past month I have felt like I’m on that edge of a cliff and don’t see the whole picture, but I am just taking little steps each day and trusting in my Belayer. I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to go Canyoneering with my Family and our Friends this past week. It was way better than staying in my comfort zone even though it was seriously so terrifying!!!