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While I was taking care of some business at the office I get a text message from Chris saying he found a park where we could rig lines easily over 2,000 feet long. After reading his text, I started to get extremely ancy and anxious to get out and setup such a longline. So, I started measuring gaps on Google Earth to see what kind of lines we would be dealing with. It turns out that this park can accommodate lines up to 1,450 ft. long! I was so stoked...
I instantly started getting gear together for what I thought would be an EPIC day of super longlining where Chris and I would shatter the world record and get one step closer to our project line. We got to the park on Tuesday morning at around 9:30. We scoped out all the trees in the area and finally settled on a line that was 1,215 ft. long (measured with the laser). This gap was absolutely perfect. The trees on both sides were massive and offered great anchor placement with nice V's in the trunks for the slings to sit in. There was a perfect hill right at the beginning of the line where we had a downhill on the tensioning part of the anchor to allow for easier pulling and a nice slope at the crux of the line where usually it's too high to be comfortable walking.
It took Chris and I about 2 hours to rig the line with many breaks in tensioning to let the line relax a bit. We rigged it with Spider Silk.
It was my turn to walk first on this beastly line, so I prepared myself as much as I could and started on my very long journey. The beginning was quite a fight. There are 3 sections to a really longline, the anchors, the transition, and the middle (actually five sections if you include both anchors and both transitions). The transitions on this line were ferocious! Changing from a very steady, hardly moving anchor, to an outrageously dynamic middle is one of the hardest things I've attempted. The transition seemed to last forever! On most of the longlines that I walk, there is usually a 50-75 ft. section that is hard on both sides of the line, this line's transition stage was nearly 200 ft. long!
Once I was passed the transition stage of the line, it felt really doable. I was able to cruise pretty quickly without too much trouble until I got to the very middle of the line. It turns out that the webbing had relaxed a lot more than we had initially expected. I was on the ground in the middle. This really bummed me out because I had already gotten past the first hard part. It's like getting to the second to last stage in Mario with no lives left and then dying because your 'A' button stuck when you were trying to jump over a gap.
We then decided to tension a bit more to make sure we didn't touch the ground. We really didn't want to go past 4,000 lbs tension on this line, but we were pretty confident that we stayed around this number. After adding a bit of tension the line Chris decided to give it a try. At the anchors, he was solid as you could be, taking long steps, no troubles what-so-ever. When he arrived at the transition, things started to change a bit. He was fighting like a champ! taking the oscillations as they came, one-by-one. The thing with lines this big is that with every micro movement that your body makes, the line reacts 10-fold (exponential with the lines length). Also, the reactions from the line are SO SLOW! It takes a good 1-2 seconds for the reaction to finally get back to you. If you aren't ready for such a reaction, it will literally buck you right off the line. Chris was able to make it about 250 feet out on this line before the sweat started to get into his eyes and distract him from the movements of the line.
Now it was my turn again. I was very confident that I was going to get the send on this attempt. I prepared myself as much as I could, got up on the line, looked around a bit, and then...I saw a ranger. He was on his stupid little motorcycle wearing one of those dumb-ass helmets. He came up to us and was as rude as a ranger could be. He didn't even attempt to make conversation with us or to give us the benefit of the doubt. He simply said "Take this line down, right now!". We tried to reason with him and find out what exactly we were doing wrong. The only thing he could come up with was "You guys know how the laws are here in the US, you just have to accept how it is. It's even harder on my side of things." Yea right! So much for our amazing longline park....
More to come on the 500m project. Here are more pictures from the day:
|1,215 feet (370 meters)
|12 feet (4 meters)
|> 4,000 lbf (1,800 kgf)
|Spider Silk MKII