It was another early morning today, especially for a Saturday. However, I didn’t mind when my alarm clock went off at 0400 this morning because I knew that the morning would be spent doing something thoroughly enjoyable: rappelling and negotiating a ropes course. We “road marched” to the course. The road march was a joke for anyone with any prior service experience. It was maybe a mile to the course and we did it wearing only our LBE (load bearing equipment). That’s right, no ruck sack, no kevlar helmet, and no body armor. Now, they tell us that by then end of the course we will have a five mile road march in full battle rattle. Still, five miles is not very far. I have done a couple of 12 milers over the course of my career and some of the guys in the company have done even longer marches than that.
It has been over five years since I went to Basic Training at Fort Knox. That was also the last time I went rappelling. Some people are climbers and work with ropes and rappelling all the time. For them, tying up a swiss seat and swinging over the edge of a forty foot tower is old hat. For the rest of us (at least for those not afraid of heights), it is a rush and thrill ride as good as any roller coaster. I don’t mind heights. They make me nervous, but that just means I’m human. I know that I was less nervous about rappelling today than I was five years ago. I am sure that a big part of that is because I didn’t have to worry about a Drill Sergeant at the bottom of the tower waiting to initiate some grass drills should I do anything wrong. Needless to say, the rappel down the tower went smoothly and was quite enjoyable. I remember in basic that I had a tendency to take a lot of short jumps and I used my break hand a lot. This time I decided to let ‘er fly and made it down the tower in basically two jumps. That was a lot more fun. My swiss seat did not leave any rope burns or end the prospects of my wife and I having kids in the future, so I also consider that a good thing.
The ropes course was also a good time. For me, it was mainly a test of balance and upper body strength as the heights did not even raise my pulse on these. I also did better on these than I did in Basic. In Basic I remember I nearly fell off the rope that you are supposed to pull yourself head-first down while you lay on top of it. This time, I made it down without any incident.
After the ropes course and rappelling, I spent roughly the next four hours putting up GP (general purpose) tents that we will be using when we go out the field. That was hot and dirty work, and while it may not have been that fun to do at the time, the sense of actually accomplishing something is worth the sweat and dirt.
Today was a good day, even if I did have to spend most of my Saturday doing training. I don’t mind. That’s what I’m here to do.