Raven the Craven Deals with Fear Factor!
Raven Quincy is a ten-year-old African American Christian. What she wants more than anything is to escape the ghetto and live a life of unending adventures, preferably in the Lake Tahoe area. Here, she learns to be careful what you pray for, because you just might get it…
As the last person to rappel down the cliff, I could no longer put this off. Trembling, I approached Bob, the mountaineering leader, and let him put the slings around my hips. He connected them with a carabiner to the rope. “Go on,” he told me.
I looked down the 30 foot cliff that was almost vertical. “I – I don’t think I can do this.”
“You’ve seen everybody else do it. Go on,” Bob said impatiently.
I took a few steps down the cliff. “Lean back,” Bob told me.
“No, I don’t want to.” I started unclipping the carabiner.
Bob slapped my hands away. “Don’t do that!” he said angrily. I realized what I had almost done was even more dangerous, but was too terrified to feel embarrassed.
I should pray, I thought to myself. Except that’s how I got into this mess in the first place…
Most of the kids at my public school in Oakland would have said I had no business even attending Pinecrest Camp, let alone take a mountaineering course. Our church had sent my brother and me there, located 200 miles away in Tahoe backcountry, the previous summer, and we had fallen in love with it. I had experienced many things for the first time; hiking at high altitude, drinking from a creek, and riding a horse. However, when it came to choosing classes, I mainly stuck to art courses. One girl in my cabin, a redhead named Susie, chose Mountaineering. The class left camp on Tuesday, spending three days in DesolationValley, and returning Thursday afternoon. When we saw Susie again, she was extremely sunburned, peeling on her face and shoulders. We were very disturbed at her appearance. “Are you all right?” we asked her.
“I’m fine now, but I’m glad it’s over,” she told us.
“How was it?”
“It was awful. I was tired the whole time. We had to hike up the Ralston Trail, which is really steep. The pack straps are unpadded, and they cut into my shoulders. That leader, Bob Furnish, made me go down a cliff; I totally freaked out. I got really thirsty, and tried to eat snow, but that made it even worse. And you see how burned I got.”
I made up my mind never to take Mountaineering.
When camp ended, Dad picked up me and my brother. As we travelled down Hwy 50, we told him about our adventures.
“What class did you take?” he asked Jim.
“I took Mountaineering,” he answered.
“You did?” I gasped. “A girl in my cabin took it, and she said it was awful!”
“I loved it! It’s the greatest! We did rock climbing and rappelling. We almost climbed Pyramid Peak, but ran out of time. I want to do that next year. Our leader, Bob Furnish, is the best! He really knows his stuff.”
“Susie said he made her go down a cliff, and it freaked her out.”
“Aw, it was just a little cliff; nothing to freak out about.”
“She said she got thirsty and ate snow, which made it worse.”
“You’re not supposed to eat snow when you’re thirsty.”
He raved on and on about Mountaineering all the way home, and all through the following school year. By the time next summer rolled around, I still remembered Susie’s experience, but my interest was piqued enough to try it. And now, I could see what Susie meant…
Well, Lord, I prayed I’d get to return to Pinecrest. And this is the class I chose. Please get me through this somehow!
Nervously, I looked again down the cliff. “You need to be almost perpendicular,” Bob said. That was the last thing I wanted; it felt like doing a backbend off a high dive. I leaned an inch, and took another step. “You’ll slip and crash into the cliff,” Bob warned me. “Keep leaning back, and don’t take another step until I tell you to.”
I wanted to pull on the rope and walk back up the few feet I had gone, but the look on Bob’s face was dangerous. I leaned back, more and more, thinking I was going to plunge to my death any second. Please, God, I’m too young to die, I’m only 10! So this wasn’t the best choice I’ve ever made – could You please still have mercy on me?
Climbing had actually been easier. Earlier, we had hiked to a giant crag. Bob put us in the sling seats, which he called a “diaper” (for real!), linked it to the rope with a carabiner, and, with each of us taking turns belaying, we climbed an easy Class V. Though it looked terrifying from the bottom, it turned out to be not much harder than climbing a ladder. If we slipped and fell, we had the rope for support. I didn’t know it at the time, but descending is actually harder than ascending. The latter demands more energy, but the former requires greater skill.
“OK, now you can walk,” Bob told me.
I couldn’t believe it – I was still on the cliff, actually feeling more solid than ever! I took hesitant steps, gaining more confidence with each step. Eventually, Bob disappeared above me. I felt afraid again, but looked down, and realized I had reached the bottom of the cliff!
I heaved a sigh of relief. Thank you, Lord! I promise I’ll never get myself in a mess like this again! I thought of the saying, “Be careful what you pray for, because you just might get it”.
Bob came down the side trail and unhitched me, removing the slings. “Congratulations! You did great!” he said.
I was surprised. “You really think so? I was totally freaked out up there.”
“Well, that’s natural. This was your first time rappelling, wasn’t it? It’ll go much easier the next time. You’ll do it again, won’t you?” he asked me.
“Your brother’s such a great rock climber. He talked you into taking this class, didn’t he? It would be a shame if you didn’t give it a real try. Once isn’t enough, really.”
We joined the rest of the group, and together we went back to our campsite. That night, as we ate dinner around the campfire, we each told about our day. A strange feeling came over me then. This was the first time I’d ever really faced my fears, and the experience had somehow changed me. I knew then I would try Mountaineering again.
The next morning, after breakfast, we hiked back to Pinecrest. At the Ralston Shoulder, we stopped for lunch. Below us lay the valley, carved out of silver, scattered with splashes of iridescent blue sky for lakes. Snow-laced Pyramid Peak and the Crystal Ridge provided a majestic backdrop, with Horsetail Falls roaring across it.
“So, what do you think?” Bob asked me. “You want to visit all this again?”
“Absolutely!” I answered.
Raven quickly forgot her promise to the Lord. What price did she pay for that? To find out, please visit this link: http://hubpages.com/sports/Fear-Factor-Part-Two
© 2016 Yoleen Lucas