Monday, August 18, 2014

Laurel Caverns rappelling

Until yesterday, I'd only been to Laurel Caverns once, and it was when my parents took my brother and I when we were pretty young. But I remember getting to see a bat up close and an optical illusion where a hill is so steep, it looks like a golf ball on a rail actually rolls uphill. This steep hill is also the reason why my legs are still sore. Anyway, I remember it was a pretty cool place, too, because duh, it's a big-ass cave.

After a trip to the movies last weekend, my boyfriend's college roommate was like, "Next weekend, rappelling at Laurel Caverns." Now, there was a time when I would've refused or needed lots of coercing, and while I wasn't really crazy about the idea of rappelling until I actually did it, I somehow went along with this pretty easily.

And I actually highly recommend it for something fun to do!

They recommend you get there early, although horrible fog meant my boyfriend and I made it just in time, and the rappelling instructors tell you and show you everything you need to know. This is entirely beginner-friendly--most of us in the group had never rappelled before. And it's pretty straightforward, and it's also super safe. As they tell you in your instructions, they've had rescue dogs in training do this.

Once you get strapped into your harness, helmet, and gloves, you get a little mini tour of the caverns, and you get to gaze up at the rock wall you'll be rappelling down. And honestly, it actually calmed my nerves a little bit to actually see it in person. It's a 40-foot rappel, but it doesn't look intimidating at all.

Until you're 40 feet up on the platform, of course, waiting for your turn--and in my case, insisting to go neither first nor last but either before or after my boyfriend. The scariest part, though, is the first rappel--it felt strange to sit back into the harness and let it support me. Not because I didn't trust that the equipment was safe--I actually trusted the equipment immensely, as well as one of the instructors who operates the safety line in case something does go awry--but just because it's a bizarre physical feeling. And then comes the awkward first step off the edge.

But after that, it's fun. The first rappel is awkward and a little scary as you get used to the sensations and the actual process of the rappel. But fortunately, you actually get three rappels, and even after our first one, we were joking about using the other two to race each other--although you descend one at a time, we were talking about timing each other. That said, I was still a little nervous going down, though I did go faster and faster each time. My problem was going too fast felt weird, although some of the rappellers in our group had no problem coming down in seconds. Some of us even had an audience, as the regular tour groups pass by and stop to watch and occasionally applaud.

All in all, the hardest part is climbing up that damn hill three times to rappel down then finish the cave tour. When you're all done, you get a certificate. And we also have video and photo proof that we actually did it.

So for something fun and a little adventurous, definitely go for rappelling at Laurel Caverns. It costs 35 bucks, which gets you three rappels and a little tour, which lasted about three hours total. Granted, that also depends some on how fast everyone does their rappels.

Maybe I'll take on spelunking next.

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