I am all about challenging myself and going out of my comfort zone right now! A lot of people will know I have a disease – Arthritis – that limits me in many ways. I won’t go into the details as I’ve already written about it but if you want to read more, I’ll link that post here.
As time goes on, I’m noticing that my disease limits me more and more but I’m adamant in not letting it stop me from doing things I want to do. A lot of the time I say no to or avoid certain things or places because mentally, I’m not prepared to try but like I said, I’m down for a challenge. Considering on my worst days I really struggle to brush my own teeth or walk down the stairs to make breakfast in the morning, I knew doing something that required such physical activity would be very testing both physically and mentally.
It was my friends birthday and I decided we should go to Go Ape. We were actually supposed to go months ago for my birthday but didn’t because we weren’t sure if I’d be able to. I thought it would be great as a team building exercise for both of us. He was afraid of heights so of course being God knows how high in the trees was his challenge. At times when he became nervous – usually at the sight of the zip lines, I would encourage him to face his fear and motivate him to do so. When I came across an obstacle, usually something involving climbing and thought “I cannot do this” he would calm my nerves and talk me through the best way to get through it.
Not only is it a great team building and trust exercise but it’s also great for challenging yourself and testing your ability, or fears. I felt so proud of myself once we’d completed it and I’d proved to myself that I am still capable of going out and having fun.
- Once you’ve checked in, you’re fitted and tightened into your harness and shown the two accessories attached
- You’re then taken to course one which is the practice course. You’re taught how to safely attach yourself and how to manoeuvre around.
- Once you and your instructor are confident, you’re on your own! There are four other courses and each gets more complicated but nothing that’s impossible.
- At the beginning of each course, you attach the main part of your harness onto the course rail so I will say, once you’re attached – there’s no going back. To avoid the risk of someone forgetting to attach themselves, it’s devised that you attach yourself at the beginning of that course and cannot detach until the end. We quickly learnt this on the second course when my friend panicked at the first zip line, you can’t go backwards and there’s also no alternative way to get down!
- Once you’re up there, the only way down is to complete the course as the last obstacle is a zip line back down to the ground. Some courses have an “extreme” option but we avoided all those lmao. There aren’t any instructors around but if you need assistance, you’re given a whistle.
- Course five which is the final one is a little different. You can opt to do the last full course or instead go straight to the zip line which was the biggest and longest one. It’s also the only zip line that allowed multiple people at once so it was really fun doing it together. I think we both felt really proud of ourselves and each other.
- Once you’ve finished, you’re given a certificate to say you completed Go Ape.
When I was younger I used to be so fearless as most of us were, but I honestly loved stuff like this and was really good at it. Tight rope, abseiling, rock climbing – you name it, I was doing it. Now being 21, I realised I lost that ability to do whatever without fear. By the third/fourth course, I was much more comfortable and able to fly through the easier parts, my friend had seen a different side to me that day haha.
The physical and mental challenges sort of go hand in hand, when I thought I physically couldn’t do something, mentally I’d get frustrated at myself but more so my disease. Before we’d even gone, my parents had given me a mini “be careful, don’t do anything to strenuous, look after yourself” talk, but once I’ve decided I want to do something, I’m doing it and I’m either going to learn the hard way or it’s all going to be fine. Low and behold I was fine.
There were a few exercises that I found really hard, to the point I wanted to blow my whistle and quit and at one point, I could have cried but I had to get on with it (you don’t have much choice being suspended X amount of metres among the trees with no other way of getting down). E.G, there was a tight rope tunnel you had to climb through and I cannot climb to save my life so I did indeed drag myself along on my bum. I took a lot more time than others which became a lot of pressure as I was holding people up and they obviously can’t overtake but it was great having someone’s support and we ended up letting most people go ahead of us once we’d finished a course so we could take our time.
Without sounding like I’m feeling sorry for myself (get the violins out lmao), as I said earlier my disease can be really limiting in my day-to-day life from dressing myself, getting around, sleeping and waking up and more. So taking on a challenge like this I think is what I needed for reassurance of what I can do on my better days.
Go Ape actually welcomes people with disabilities and impairments and they have a whole section about it on their website. They will accommodate for anyone who needs a little more assistance. It was such a fun day out, I’ll probably go again one day!
*disclaimer* none of the pictures used in this post are my own.