Overcoming the Obstacle of Yourself on a Rope Course

Heather ziplining in Czech Republic

I have never experienced the fear of heights. However, I do have a healthy sense of being nervous while being at an extreme height. Although it usually turns into excitement after the initial nervousness passes. I was put through my paces when I was in the Czech Republic for a TBEX conference and had the opportunity to experience a rope course.

Heather ziplining in Czech Republic

Pustevny

View at the top of Beskydy Mountains

It was a pre-TBEX adventure at the Beskydy Mountains in the Czech Republic. We hiked approximately eight miles admiring the beautiful scenery. After a very filling and delicious lunch, we were scheduled to ride kick scooters down the mountain. This was a little nerve-racking to start, but once I got going, I loved the wind in my hair and the views as I raced down the windy and twisting road. Although I wasn’t too thrilled with sharing the road with cars that don’t let you know they are behind you. I kept saying to myself a lot on this trip that there aren’t any rules in the Czech Republic. When we were done, my legs felt like jello and my hands hurt from gripping the handlebars so tightly. However, I had to shake it off because Tarzanie ropeway park was next.

Heather on a kick scooter in the Czech Republic

I had never done a rope course before and had no idea what to expect. We got instructions before starting on how we had to always be connected and how to handle the zip line. Our guide said if we need help, all we have to do is yell “Help!” I wasn’t nervous, and I thought I was ready for this…little did I know.

Heather pre-rope course in Pustevny

The first couple of obstacles on the rope course were challenging, with moving boards to step on and nothing but my cables to hang on to. Trying to do these obstacles was hard for me, having short legs and arms. I felt that if I was a bit taller, they could have been so much easier. Even with my struggles, I enjoyed the course until I couldn’t stop on one of the zip lines. The actual ziplining was exhilarating, with the wind blowing through my hair and speeding through the trees. The end of this particular zip line had a green pillow to soften your stop, but I hit it hard. When I started to slide back, my leg caught the wood and got all scraped up. My friend, Palle, had to reach out to catch and pull me back up.

Injuries on the back of my leg

This moment was probably the beginning when I realized I didn’t want to be up there anymore. But, I had people behind me that were cheering me on, so I kept pushing forward. I ended up finishing two more obstacles, and then it happened. I hit my wall! My arm was shaking so hard that I felt I had no strength left to go on any further. I stopped to wait for the guide to come back and help me down after he already helped my friend down earlier when she couldn’t go any further.

While waiting, my new friend, Gerjo, made it to my platform when he started to have a panic attack. Standing there, helping him calm down, helped me relax while we waited an excessively long time for the guide to help us both down. Yelling “Help” didn’t make them hurry, which was extremely frustrating. And the actual lowering down was a bit harrowing, but it was something that I had to do. I had no strength left in my arms to hold me up on the next obstacle because of hiking the eight miles earlier, riding a kick scooter down the mountain, and completing as many obstacles as I did. I was disappointed that I couldn’t finish especially when I found out later that I almost finished the course.

Being the overachiever that I am, this was a failure that I did not like. I know that I did the right thing by stopping and knowing that my body was at its limits before something worse happened. But, it still hurt to know I didn’t make it through. I am glad, though, that I did stop when I did, as I was there for a friend who needed me.

Podhůra

Thinking that I wouldn’t get the courage to get back up on a rope course again, I was surprised to find myself being given another opportunity to finish it. I was on a press trip to Podhůra, Czech Republic, and we were exploring the recreational forest area of Podhůra. Guess what, they had a rope course! And yes, I volunteered to try it again.

We were going to do the entire rope course, but we ran short on time and decided we only had time for one zip line adventure. The people I was with weren’t there the first time. Nobody knew the internal struggle I had to get through before I started up on the ladder to the zip line. First, just looking at the ladders leaning up against the tree, one ladder nailed to another, it was intimidating. And a couple of my fellow travel writers backed out when they saw the ladder.

Two ladders connected by nails to get to platform

However, I was determined to do this since I didn’t finish the other rope course. So, up I went slowly one rung at a time. and I made it all the way up the tree. There was no guide at the top; I was all alone, making sure my cables were attached before I let myself go.

Heather ziplining through the trees

And I did let myself go, flying high above and through the trees. I was free and laughing so hard that I was doing this again soon after the last fiasco rope course. What a feeling to be ziplining fast through the trees, high above the ground. It is an amazing feeling to give up control and fly! Although it is over so quickly and then it happened.

I don’t know what it is with me and rope courses. This time I didn’t make it to the end of the zip line. I thought I did everything I was supposed to do, but I stopped in mid-air quite a bit a ways from the end. I was hanging there with nobody around to help me. I was yelling, “Somebody help me,” for a while before one of my tourism board guides heard and came running. I had to basically go hand over hand, grabbing the cable and pulling myself toward the finish. I was able to get close enough to the end until someone could reach my foot and pull me the rest of the way. But, I made it and breathed a sigh of relief as my feet touched the ground and my hands could finally let go of the cable, shaking and sore.

Heather trying to get to the end of the zipline

My trip to the Czech Republic was an adventure. And experiencing a rope course in Central Europe was a test of wills and strength. One that kicked my butt and one that I consider a triumph. I was able to push back intimidation, fear, and nerves to get back up and try again. Will I go up in a rope course again? Right now, I would say, probably. As long as I don’t do any other strenuous activities before it, I know I can do this. Have you ever had a situation where you had to overcome obstacles, and the biggest one was yourself?

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