Ranger Kathryn's Arches

April 23, 2010

BTR Day 4: Inner victory

(Continued from previous post)

What a difference a day makes.

Something shifted in me between Wednesday and Thursday. As I methodically re-packed my pack Thursday morning, adding what I might need for protective clothing, subtracting extraneous baggage, I reviewed my objectives. I saw what I wanted to happen. I asked God for grace, strength and clarity. I mentally prepared. Because we were going to go late into the night, we had all morning off, which I used to read and study and get my head around concepts that had been fuzzy. I finished my take-home test.

Coming down from the cliff for dinner

I had had little awareness of how burned out and stressed I had gotten in three solid days of massive information overload, but the morning off replenished me and I arrived at the training site as ready as I’ve ever been. And… it was a VERY GOOD DAY. Things began to click in my head or gut. I no longer was questioning every decision I made (“Bowline or figure eight?” “Wrap-3-Pull-2 or High-Strength Tie-Off?”) and I found a well of confidence that had been AWOL all week.

We ate our sack suppers at sunset and then attached our headlamps to head up the cliff for Night Operations. The half moon illuminated the trail and stars began twinkling all around. Over the radio came a scenario in which the local sheriff requested our assistance to locate a missing boy. He might be on the mesa top or might have gone over the edge.

Our Incident Commander assigned me and another student to rappel down in the dark to search for “Little Jimmy” while the others rigged up belay and mainline systems for lowering a litter in case we found him injured. I’ve never rappelled in the dark. Instructor Brent kept an eagle eye on me and watched me tie myself in, load the brake bar rack, check all carabiners, and practice tying off if I needed to stop in mid-rappel. He sidled over to me and quietly asked if I remembered the “wine talk” from yesterday, as he could see I was tensing up. I smiled at him and consciously let my shoulders and neck and back relax as I took a few deep breaths and went over the edge. Adrenaline rush.

By the time we ‘found Jimmy’ and cleaned up all our gear and re-assembled the team and packaged everything up for overnight, it was midnight. We all agreed that this exercise had been Really Really Fun. In my own silent thoughts, I acknowledged that the day was a major turning point emotionally.

(Continued in next post)

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