Photo Credit Scott Rogers. Click photo to see his whole album. If you can’t see it, friend me on Facebook and I might let you see it.
My alarm starting yelling at me. I could already hear Richard stirring in his sleeping bag outside. It wouldn’t be light out for at least 4 hours, a little bit more than I’d just slept. We had to be up early to make it up to Chasm View Lake, where Scott, Scotty and Finn were already bivying.
About a year prior, Scott and I had scouted a gap in Rocky Mountain National Park across The Notch, a prominent feature between Mt. Meeker and Long’s Peak. Training, planning and brain storming ensued in the following months. The first time we stood in The Notch, neither of us could have walked that line, but in the back of my mind, every time I stepped on a slackline, high or low, I was training for the steps that would occur 14,000 feet above sea level across a gap visible for miles in every direction.
Alone in the pitch black parking lot, Rich and I listened to Royksopp as we packed our bags with the necessities of a long day in The Park. Hiking briskly, we arrived at the bivy just in time to see the crew climbing out from underneath their rock. What a ragtag crew! Finn was adorned with his finest outerwear and the others were sporting excited grins ready for the day to begin despite a general lack of bacon for breakfast…
A marmot’s perspective of the antics to ensue.
410′ long lines, too many trips up to Stoked Bowl, and a lot of time spent up high had hopefully prepared me for the fatigue that is accompanied with being in the high country. Growing up at an elevation of about 5 feet in Huntington Beach had it’s advantages, but my red blood cell count (kind of important for transferring oxygen to your cells hemo-something or globo-whatnot…) is not one of them. Luckily, with enough training anything is possible.
We seemed to hike up talus forever. What is normally a frozen couloir called The Loft, was an endless scree field waiting to be endured. The excited smirks on our faces that morning had switched to open mouthed gasps for thin air. No one knows how long it took us to get to the top, but we made it and began to rig.
Spanning the gap, the line was quickly set, and ready to walk. Scott Turpin was the first to rage. Stepping on the line like a greek god taking human form in ancient Greece, he strolled back and forth across the 130′ gap. A gathering of gaping hikers atop Long’s Peak assembled. Cheers erupted from the summit when he completed the first ascent walk, but Scott’s own bellow, full of emotion and conquest, effortlessly drowned out their enthusiasm. What a moment… Full man was a piece of cake and he stepped off the line handing me the leash.
Currently training in the Dagobah System.
Despite a lack of recent slackline training, I felt calm and ready to take whatever this line could throw at me. With clouds swirling all around us, but blue skies overhead and not a breath of wind, I stepped out into the space between. Under my feet, the line responded to my movements. One step at a time, one breath at a time, I simultaneously got farther away from and closer to solid ground. If you highline, you know what it is like for your vision to fail purely because you are scared. If you highline, you know what it is like to forget to breath just because you are focusing too hard on trying to put one foot in front of the other. If you highline, you know what it is like to have an idea of mental clarity. If you highline, “I could never do that” is not a grammatically correct sentence. To be clear, I think highlining is beneficial.
This is what they mean when they say, “Don’t look down”.
After I was done walking, Scotty Rogers, our fearless photographer and epicness extraordinaire stepped out and crushed. Rich and Finn went next, both wrestling with the line and succeeding in their own ways. Unlike other highlines I’ve done, walking across the whole line was such a minuscule part of the day compared to the massive scale of this project. Everyone involved in this project is such a beast and props to Finn for carrying up the lines!
Scotty “Ragers”. The unassuming badass.
Richard Webb enjoying the sights on A Walk in the Park.
One more trip out on the line to try some double drop knees and exposure turns and I ended up practicing my back diving skills. Feeling confident that the line would hold and certain that I may never get this experience again, I leapt off the line and tested my nerve as well as the rigging.
Photo Credit Scott Rogers
Before we took down the line, with storms encroaching from all directions, Scott walked out confidently with only a swami belt to hold a potential fall. I held my breath and got nervous as he strode across more confidently than a competent pedestrian might cross the street. With only a thin piece of webbing around his abdomen, a fall could result in the worst. I could barely watch. He stepped off the line and bellowed again, happier than a clam. We all were. What an accomplishment a long time coming!
Ok we’re done now…
Hiking out, we got another taste of the endless scree field and found ourselves scrambling to get under the bivy rock as some serious weather rolled through. It was hailing as I pumped water from the crystal clear chasm view lake. A very naked Finn ran by and out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of him dive into the frigid alpine body of water. He never misses a chance to take advantage of the situation and live a little bit harder than everyone else around him.
Chasm View Lake
The day was an amazing experience and I can’t be more thankful to our wonderful crew. Without the support of an awesome community of friends, I would never be able to rage as hard, nor would it be as fun to try.
To everyone that might have the means, I hope you repeat this line, “A Walk in the Park”. Slogging included, this is one of the best.
And the Lord said, “Let the visible light refract upon the molecules of water as they fall from the Heavens”!