June 24, 2017

I met an awesome couple, Jason and Chelsea Magness, who calls themselves the Yogaslackers. They are acroyogabats of the craziest degree, expert longliners and recently became calm and smooth highliners. Our mutual friend, Paul Clark, pinged me when the Yogaslackers had planned to go to Smith to set a highline. I was in.

About a month prior, I had spent two days at Smith for the Smith Rock Highline Festival, where I got my first chances to walk a highline. I have been a slackliner for five years, so I had high hopes of completing my first walk. I didn’t. I spent two days whipping into my harness. Rope burns and bruises, pain and frustration. It was a mental game and I had been humbled. So when the time came for my first chance at redemption, I was anxious to see if my mind had strengthened enough for the task.

By the time I had arrived, Jason and Chelsea where rigging a 75′ line on top of Smith called The Gift. A truly magical line, The Gift has amazing views east and west, hundreds of feet of exposure and a birds eye view of the pumpkin patch, which was bustling on that sunday. Country music and pumpkin cannon noises drifted up to our unhuman perch. Once the line was set, they elected the newbie, me, to tape the main to the backup line. Sliding out in my harness was a good way to prepare my mind and body to find balance in an unnatural place. I was already tied into the line, so I took the opportunity to be the first to walk. I was nervous to walk in front of new people, nervous to fall. I focused the best I could but kept falling after I stood up. I took a deep breath and tried to calm my mind. I let go of control, tried to find myself in that moment. I walked my first length successfully to the cheers of new friends, a great feeling.

Highlining is a very emotional and bonding experience. Hearts soften when life is in the balance. It forces you to put things into perspective. Jason and Chelsea have the perfect energy to welcome new people to the highline and I was glad I had gotten the chance to encounter that. Jason, being chill as he is, welcomed the idea of leaving the line up for a few days so that myself and a few others could get some more time on it. I was appreciative, and quickly called Tyler Roemer. Long story short, I was on the hunt for a sunset banger on The Gift and we got it.

Ari is a professional athlete, author and filmmaker living in Bend Oregon. He and his wife organize adventure travel trips around the globe.

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