The Secret Rock
We have a secret rock and it’s huge. No matter how many times we go, looking over the edge takes my breath away. It is not a hill, it is a cliff that drops straight down for 60 feet onto giant, unforgiving boulders. This place is not just a rock, it is one of the places our family is strongest and it fosters a very deep trust between us. To get to this spot we drive for an hour and park on the side of the road. Then we walk a quarter of a mile down-hill over roots, through thick age old trees, and then turn onto a side trail that leads us out right onto our obscure hamlet. For over ten years now we have made at least a yearly trip out here to test our guts and more importantly to be together.
How it Started
Our rappelling bug started when we were kids and carried into our older years. I bought some gear in high-school and we learned together. When my brother, my sister, and I are around the rock, our fun sides never leave but there is seriousness that is just below the surface. Our faces smile and the jokes fly but our minds work fast when someone is close to the edge. We’ve logged a lot of time up on that mountain trying to keep each other safe.
There comes a time during each trip that all seems ready to go. The rope is tied off and inspected, the harnesses are scrutinized, and the other hardware is given a final check. The tension builds as the moment someone must go first comes closer. Getting over the edge is paralyzing. It’s the first time in a year and the stakes are high. My brother offers himself up to check the line. He always does. It’s his thing and we all love him for it. He leans back in his harness and in one smooth motion rotates his body-weight past the ledge and out over the drop. He life is suspended now by only a small rope that I tied to a tree. His heart is racing. His facial expression tells the tale but despite his fear he is there, hanging over the edge, leading the way.
The sun traverses the sky and turn after turn we rotate through the exercise. A yearbook of friends have trusted us with this experience. Over and over we check each other carefully and are comforted by the hundreds of times we have leaned over this ledge together.