32 years ago continued:
This area was so secluded that there weren't even any roads. The mountain people, if they ever left, walked down the mountain to go anywhere. We hiked up to a few cabins and Joe, our leader, knew the people. He was building himself a cabin up there. (This is all near Marion, VA). We hiked to Joe's unfinished cabin and slept on his floors. The next day we set out to climb the cliffs. I have never climbed any steeper terrain in my life. I literally thought that I could not take another step, but somehow I always did. I pushed myself onward, making myself keep up with the leader. I knew that if I slowed down, I would never make it. Finally after hours and hours we reached the top. (Or at least we thought it was.) But ahead of us was the huge rock cliff-and we were expected to climb it and rappel down it. We got geared up, helmets on, ropes secure and one by one began to climb the rock. My turn came and I made it half way up by forcing my feet into nooks and crannies and pulling myself up with my arms; when all of a sudden my arms lost strength and I fell. There I was, dangling in the air on this rope, that was held secure by someone on top. After that I never really gained back my position and had to find the easier route up. But once I got up, everyone applauded me and told me I was great to keep on trying. Once up, we began to rappel down. One leader was the belayer and he held the ropes secure. When my turn came to descend, I wasn't too scared. The worst part is getting on the first edge. But once over, I put my feet on the cliff and got into a sitting position and walked my way downward. Then there was a dip in the cliff where the wall was sunken in. Here all we could do was dangle in the air as we were let down on the rope. Then we got our feet back on the cliff and continued like that until we reacher the ground. What an accomplishment for someone who had always been scared of heights.
(to be continued)