Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Abuse of equipment

We didn't abuse it but it wasn't expressly for business either. That's all I'm sayin'.

J mentioned a great story to me that I hadn't told you guys, but I forgot what it was. Hopefully it comes back to me shortly.

Not sure if this is the one or not, but it's a good one. It's one of my few near death (or perceived near death) experiences. It all began one fateful day after school on a Friday. 11th or 12th grade is the time frame, so we're looking at '96-'97. It was a camping trip organized by YoungLife, a protestant based youth group that, in the DR at least, planned really cool camping/rock climbing/outdoor trips. But the plan is to hike up above this 150 foot waterfall and camp upstream a little bit. It's a very touristy spot with a big basin for swimming below the waterfall, but that is not our destination. We forge onward, climbing, sweating our way past another 20 foot waterfall and finally arrive at what is barely a trickle of a waterfall with a very nice rocky beachy area near the bottom of it. So we set up camp, take our shoes off, dangle our toes in the water, standard camping activities. Can't remember any particular events before we went to sleep but I'm sure there was something Bible-related.

Everyone curls up into their sleeping bag and drifts off to battle dragons or be ravaged by Amazonian beauties. These dreams didn't last long though. I awoke to my friend screaming "EVERYONE GET UP! THE WATER IS RISING!" Huh? Wha? Dude, stfu and go back to sleep. So I roll over and then realize that I am about 3 inches from where the water rose to. Crap. So I get up and make sure all my crap is safe and dry and then remember that I left my shoes near the water, or about 6 inches underwater now. Great so I hop into the freezing water but luckily was able to locate my shoes and one of my socks. No biggie, at least I found my shoes. This was about 2 or 3 am so I go back to sleep. Wake up the next day and we realize that the trickle of a waterfall is dam controlled and someone opened the damn dam up in the night. Dirty pool old man.

Everyone arises from their slumber and wants breakfast. Luckily the fire is already poppin' and a'cracklin' so we're all good there. This was also the first time that I was introduced to Sock Coffee. It's pretty much exactly what it sounds like but please do make sure the sock is clean. The recipe goes like this:
Take one large pot, add water enough for everyone to have at least one cup
Add coffee grounds to the clean sock, make a knot in the top of the sock
Drop sock into water, put pot on fire
Wait until water boils
Drink in the socky goodness
I didn't have a coffee mug so I cut off the top of a water bottle and used the bottom half as a mug. So very cool. The coffee was so hot that it actually deformed the plastic and made it spongy and soft. It went from cylindrical with ridges to a blob/tear drop shape. Delicious coffee especially when you're cold and in the mountains.

This is wearing on a bit, but now comes the good stuff. Our plan for Sat. involves rappelling down the huge waterfall that we hiked past, which is awesome and much faster than hiking down. But first we have to rappel down the 20' that precedes the big one. The little one is about 100-150 feet upstream. So I go down and reach the bottom of the little waterfall. I'm feeling great and confident so I sit on this rock that lines the small pool under the little waterfall. It's very slippery but I don't mind, apparently I'm invincible. But the next person comes down and splashes into the water. They either kicked me or their wave pushes me over the rock. Oh shit, I'm screaming in my head as I look to where I'm headed. My life doesn't flash or anything but I do feel certain that this is my time to die. So I try and relax and keep my feet in front of me and my head elevated to avoid concussing myself on a rock. But I live! I made it! I somehow slid down a rock and avoided slamming into the rock wall that borders my slippery rock. Then I look up and realize that I'm at least 10 feet below the banks (all rock) and there are no handholds or anything. Great, so I survived that and will now go over the big waterfall. But a friend (Derek) had rappelled down before me and he ran down river to see if I was OK. I was and then he pointed out a place that I could get out a little further down. Phew! So I'm a tad shaken up. I'm ok and then he asks if I would do it again. Apparently they thought I did it on purpose. Well, I guess I would. So then a few other brave souls take their chance on the Suislide. I came up with the name and it still holds a special place in my heart.

One of the adults on the trip gave it a shot and hit his head a bit at the end (you had to stay right) so that ended the Suislide tale, but we still got to rappel next to the big waterfall. It was amazing sliding down a rope next to this huge natural beast. Once down, we found a small edge and climbed up there and were able to jump into the waterfall and swim around some. Then it was time to pack up and leave. I can't remember what happened to our packs as we rappelled but I think they lowered them down before we started.

Amazing trip and if you are ever in Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic, I would highly recommend a trip to go check it out. Just watch out for slippery rocks.


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