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Entering the 700 club

It seems like every great thing starts with a ridiculous idea.  Many of these ideas can be found within the messaging conversations between Jerry and I.

"Let's rig the 700 this weekend :)"

I was totally in.

I had helped Jerry rig the 700 when he crossed it and set what was the world record. We had projected the 1,003ft line together where I managed put in some solid crossings so going into the 700 didn't feel like an enormous commitment - Jerry had already broken that frontier open and I think that alleviated a lot of the pressure I would've felt otherwise.  With that said, I had never even stepped foot on this line! When Jerry had it rigged and walked it for the record, it seemed so far out of my range that I didn't even sit on it.  Up to that point, this line had only been sent by the man himself, mister Jerry.

By Saturday morning it was up and rigged by an awesome group of people.  I was feeling relaxed and very physically/mentally ready, so I hopped on.  Upon reaching the far anchor, I had made my first crossing with 6 falls - not bad! I was super stoked on it and laughed a little when we realized that Jerry's first crossing was also made with 6 falls.  On the way back to the main anchor I made it across with 3 falls... as I dismounted the line it dawned on me that this thing might go over the weekend.  I've been training a lot which I know has helped my highlining. I've been training primarily for this TV show called American Ninja Warrior that I made it onto for their 2015 season, as well as training on a lot of highlines lately. Coming from a triathlon background, I'm big on training. If you haven't noticed.  Train, train, train!

That evening I got back on and still felt great, this time sending on the way out with two falls - I could feel myself figuring out the small mistakes I was making and being out on the line making crossings was teaching me a lot so I tried to stay out there and learn the movements and motions.  I've been trying to do that - be more present out there and use the opportunity of actually being on the line to be taught the most important lessons.  It's so easy to try to think our way across lines when we're sitting at the anchor but that's just not the way it works, at least for me.  Being out there, exposed, no music, feeling the wind and hearing the water below me, feeling the hot sun beating on me, feeling my eyes getting blurry and my head getting dizzy, feeling alone, feeling totally exhausted - those moments were the greatest teachers for me.  That in conjunction with long talks and problem solving with Jerry.

Then there was a fourth crossing-3 falls.  Fifth crossing, 3 falls. Closer and closer but I was getting tired and started to overthink things a little.  It really started to stress me out and it was translating onto the line.  Food, water, and rest were in order.

Lines started coming down as everyone's Memorial day weekend was coming to an end, and the 700 quickly became the only line still rigged.  Jerry, Justin and I relaxed around camp in the shade trying to maintain refuge from the sun. 1pm came and went. 2pm came and went.  3pm, then 3:39pm and out of nowhere my body decided it was time as I started mindlessly putting on my harness and taking off my shoes.  It felt like one of those times  when my body and mind were helping me realize that this line wasn't going to walk itself! Part of me was avoiding it- every crossing is a huge commitment and we were 3 days into a hot highlining weekend.  But I was feeling it, my friends were there to support me and it was time to walk.

It was the sixth crossing now, I was about 400' out and feeling strong. The send pressure was there and I really just wanted to be across this thing already... and that's usually when this happens. BOOM! Catch. WTF was that?! For a split second I let my mind wander to the far anchor, lost my focus and a gust of wind knocked me right over when I was off guard.  I clipped the line roller in and sat there for a minute, knowing I had to make a decision.  I was tired, it was getting late in the day, and this line was getting derigged when I dismounted.  I'd made a decision and rolled myself out to the far anchor.  I knew it would exhaust me to finish that crossing, and now I knew I had one more shot and I would need all of the energy I had left.

Then it happened - the seventh crossing.  As I sat on the line getting ready to stand up and walk back, it hit me. I don't know what 'it' is, but everything just lined up. Everything fell into place.  My mind was present, my body relaxed, my breath calmed, the line just sat there showing me the way.  It was kind of like a Bagger Vance moment as I saw the path I needed to take.  It was one of the easiest, most difficult things I have ever done. I didn't know I was going to send it, but I knew that I wanted to send it and that I was capable of doing so. Everything that could've crept in and tested me did. Out of nowhere the wind would punch me, it happened twice where I was on one foot about to lose it, but I brought myself back, took a breath, kept walking.  Before I started the walk Jerry's advice was to not always try to rush, if I needed to take 10 seconds to let things die down, do it.  Count and take 5 breaths then continue.  In the midst of amazing send pressure my intuition kept reminding me to be humble AND confident. It takes a perfect balance of both those things and for me that was the secret, as it is with most things.  Logistically It was very much a combination of confidence in speed, continuing through transitions and stopping when I needed to and take a breath, straighten my back, refocus my eyes, then continue.

What an incredibly amazing feeling it was to dismount this line with my friends there cheering me on. The emotions hit me hard as this was an enormous mental barrier, one that is now broken. As always, I owe a huge amount of thanks to Jerry, Balance Community and everyone there who helped and supported this project.  I'm very excited to see where we go from here!

 

Line Specs:

Length: 704' long x ~350' high

Rig: 7/8" spidersilk w/ 1/4" amsteel backup ~150lbs tension

Sag: Standing ~20', ~35' walked




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