ROCHESTER, MN (FOX 47)-- If there's one way to conquer one's acrophobia, there's no better way than to do it on television. Yours truly, Nicholas Quallich, headed to the “Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center” to see just how much courage I had.
But, first things first. Jenna Moon, who is the “Raptor Program Coordinator,” told me what else is going on at their facility. “We have different things that we have available to the public all year round. Everyone's always welcome to come out and walk the trails. We have a nice deciduous, leafy forest here, but then we also have the prairie, which is really kind of fun to explore,” explained Moon.
The most popular is the summer 'High Ropes Challenge', where you come up and get to do the ropes course with your family. We also have another 'High Ropes Challenge' in October. So, people can actually get to trick-or-treat through a ropes course and get to do the zip line at the end. And it's pretty fun to see everyone up in costume, as you do the course.
Laura Beck, who is a graduate naturalist working at the center, explained what I was about to do.
“We have three different ropes courses and they all have different levels of difficulty. They have similar elements, just designed in a different way. So, this is kind of the 'one size fits most'; great adventure, great challenge, for anyone who comes out here. Some people like to take their time and they like to fall on purpose and go backwards and close their eyes. Some people go right for speed. Some people who are a little bit more hesitant really take their time and want to just go at their own pace,” Beck explained. “Also, safety is absolutely number one on the list of priorities. We have a harness that we make sure gets fitted up properly. We've got double safety straps so you can attach to safety wires that are above each element, in case you do take a tumble; intended or not. And of course, you are have got your helmet, which is so crucial to this activity,” Beck said.
It was time for me to ascend the tall towers. I must confess that having Laura and Jenna there, really helped to boost my confidence, as I walked with trepidation and uncertainty.
It seemed at first, that the obstacles in front of me were endless. But, after a few steps, I remembered that I was attached to the wire by a safety harness. That was very reassuring. After multiple challenges, it was time to “fly.” This was a first for me, as I clipped myself onto the zip-line wire. Stalling for time, I checked and rechecked my harness. After a few moments of wondering whether I should “chicken out” or not, I decided that I needed to take advantage of the opportunity before me. With bated breath and my feet off the ground, I took off for the other side. I flew across to the other side, to a waiting Jenna, who gave me a helping hand up the stairs; to the top of the platform.
And so, I did something that I thought I would never do; let alone could ever do.
Though I was drenched in sweat by the end, I was rather elated that I mustered the courage to conquer a serious case of acrophobia. Oh, the things you'll do on TV...