Let go, trust your gear and push your lim­its

Howler Magazine - - & Adventure Travel -

Is­tood on the cliff above a 100-foot wa­ter­fall, looked at the pool below and thought, "Well, what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger."

Our ar­rival in the beau­ti­ful city of La For­tuna, at the base of Are­nal Vol­cano, of­fered a mo­men­tary dis­trac­tion. The very pres­ence of this icon­i­cally cone-shaped vol­cano, which last erupted on May 7, 1998, is awe-in­spir­ing. We were lucky enough to see the clouds part and Are­nal ap­pear in all its glory. There is so much to do here for all lev­els of ad­ven­turer. My buddy and I had wanted to get our adren­a­line pump­ing and ex­pe­ri­ence some­thing re­ally dif­fer­ent. Jump­ing into gi­ant wa­ter­falls — canyon­ing — sounded like just the right thing.

Rave re­views of De­safio's Lost Canyon Ad­ven­ture clinched our de­ci­sion.

Our ex­cite­ment grew as we waited in com­fort at the tour com­pany of­fice across from the church, where other ad­ven­tur­ers ar­rived via trans­porta­tion pro­vided by De­safio. Prepa­ra­tion-wise, we had been told what to ex­pect in terms of get­ting very wet and hav­ing ap­pro­pri­ate cloth­ing and footwear.

The mix­ture of ner­vous but­ter­flies and ea­ger­ness I was feel­ing in­ten­si­fied when we all boarded the bus to the drop-off site. Pas­sen­ger chat­ter dur­ing the short ride re­flected ev­ery­one's height­en­ing an­tic­i­pa­tion. From the base, we were bounced up the moun­tain via a jun­gle car­a­van trip that took about 20 min­utes. At our up­ward des­ti­na­tion, re­ferred to as the "Ops Cen­ter", we were greeted by a bunch of happy, en­er­getic guides who suited us up in rap­pelling gear. Once fully equipped, we were given a safety brief­ing, and then off we went into the un­known with our ex­pe­ri­enced guides.

At the first plat­form, an­other equip­ment check pre­ceded our in­au­gu­ral drop. Over the edge I went, lean­ing back and trust­ing the equip­ment. The wa­ter was not too cold. The first drop was only 10 me­ters or so to get us ac­cus­tomed to the equip­ment and proper form for bal­ance. Plac­ing my foot care­fully and eas­ing the rope with my dom­i­nant hand al­lowed me to com­fort­ably con­trol my des­cent.

The sub­se­quent drops got big­ger, caus­ing more adren­a­line to pump through my sys­tem as each one loomed. In a cou­ple in­stances, I was in­structed to let go of the rope and hold the safety line. This zipped me to the bot­tom fast, but in a con­trolled man­ner. There were a cou­ple of sur­prises along the way, which I am not go­ing to re­veal. It's some­thing you have to ex­pe­ri­ence your­self.

Not only was the rap­pelling fan­tas­tic, but the to­tal im­mer­sion with na­ture while walk­ing through the river was in­vig­o­rat­ing. The sound and spec­ta­cle of rush­ing and fall­ing wa­ter in­creased my mo­ti­va­tion at the prospect of an­other drop plat­form com­ing next. All of our senses were en­gaged with the for­est sur­round­ings, even in mo­ments of still­ness and over­pow­er­ing quiet. The guide took a mo­ment to point out a sloth that was leisurely munch­ing leaves.

Af­ter the last drop, we hiked back up to the ops cen­ter and were re­warded with fresh fruit and drinks. All of us in the group spoke ex­cit­edly about our ex­pe­ri­ences. The con­ver­sa­tional theme was about let­ting go, trust­ing the equip­ment and push­ing your per­sonal lim­its. Pho­tos of our ad­ven­ture

The sub­se­quent drops got big­ger, caus­ing more adren­a­line to pump through my sys­tem as each one loomed.

Off the top of a 100-foot wa­ter­fall drop. Pho­tos cour­tesy of De­safio Ad­ven­ture Co.

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