I was driving around to see if I could find something interesting to photograph and maybe write a blog piece. I pulled into the Circle C soccer fields and watched the Soccer Parents playing for a while before exploring the rest of the Park.
I was in luck for down on the furthermost field, I came across Faith Dickey and her friend Andrew who had stretched out a rope all the way across one side of the field to the other side. I wandered over to them and introduced myself and asked if I could take pictures. We got to talking and I learned that they were practicing slack tightrope walking or slack-lining as they call it as opposed to high wire or a cable.
Apparently it has a lot to do with the tension that can be applied to cables as opposed to the slack rope as the name indicates. I examined their “rope” and it was really a flat tape about one inch wide and they had an intricate system of pulleys on one end with which to apply tension to the tape. I thought that maybe they had an electric winch to apply the pressure but no, nothing that fancy, just good old-fashioned body weight and muscular exertion. The difference in the two is that although the steel cable will sag with the walker, it is not dynamic like the flat-line which is constantly moving and fluttering in the wind.
Faith told me that she has been walking the rope for more than 4 years and had spent some time abroad where it was a more popular sport. Her friend had only been at it a couple of years. While I was there, they both had a go at walking the rope and it was obvious that it was not tight enough as Andrew being much heavier than Faith, had the rope to where it was almost touching the ground.
About that time, another of their friends showed up along with his dog who was more interested in chasing a frisbee than helping the humans apply pressure on tightening up the rope. Between the three of them, they got it much tighter and Faith walked all the way across and back again. Both of the guys tried and it was obvious that they needed a lot more practice to be as good as Faith. In all fairness to them, she has been doing it for a long time.
When I first walked up I wisecracked that aren’t they supposed to have a pole but apparently, a pole for balance is only used by the high wire walkers. They also had an interesting way of mounting the rope to start the walk. It’s kinda hard to explain but essentially, they pulled themselves up onto the rope and then with their belly across the rope, pulled up one leg and slid it along the rope to where it would take weight. At that point, with a roll and a pull and they were upright.
For this walk at Circle C, they were no more than ten feet in the air and when they did fall, they were able to land on their feet at least most of the time. For the really high walking, they wear a harness attached to the line so if they fall they can pull themselves back up to continue the walk (or dangle helplessly upside down).
I took some pictures and have compiled them into a slide which depicts Faith’s walk as well as those of her friends across the soccer field.
I looked her up on her website http://www.idratherbeslacklining.com/ and it turns out she is pretty well-known in the slack-lining world. Go check it out. I think you will be amazed and if looking at her accomplishments doesn’t make your feet tingle, then nothing will especially if you happen to suffer from vertigo. She also has some amazing pictures of her walks and of some of the places she has visited.
All in all, it was a very enjoyable couple of hours spent watching people who were passionate about their sport who didn’t mind working hard to improve at it with the added bonus of watching a world champion perform.