Has anyone been to Sky Trail on Phillip Island? For those who haven’t, it’s a high ropes course that consists of horizontally strung cables, ropes, boards and other materials secured between 10 metre high steel poles. Not for those who are scared of heights! Even with a safety harness on, the top level still feels pretty high up.
So my family and I went last weekend. It was really interesting to see our different approaches.
My 10 year old son, who has no fear, went straight to the top level. I was the last one to get my harness on, so by the time I started climbing the stairs, my husband and younger son (8 years old) had already followed my 10 y.o. to the top. Once there, my husband and 8 y.o. watched for a bit and then went back down to the lower level. I thought I’d better stay with my 10 y.o. After all, I’m the parent and surely I should ensure he’s ok. However, it was a lot higher up than it seemed from the ground!
I managed one of the easier obstacles, but my heart was beating pretty fast at this stage. My 10 y.o. was already on fire, nearly running across the planks, so I figured given he met the height criteria to stay on his own and was wearing a safety harness, I could probably leave him there alone. For me, a better approach was to move back down a level and build my confidence first (this was my younger son and husband’s approach too). I wasn’t going to let it beat me though!
So that’s what I did. I started on the easier obstacles and as I got more comfortable and confident, I tried the harder ones and had a rush of pride in myself with each one I managed. Please note I’ve had issues with one ear that left me with some balance issues for a while. Thanks to the ability of the brain to rewire, my balance seems to be in very good working order again and Sky Trail really highlighted that for me.
Anyway, once I mastered the lower level I decided to go back up to the top level. I had a go at the easier obstacles. Success! I was also aware of making some assumptions. One of the planks across from one platform to the other that had no rope handles looked like it would be very wobbly when I walked on it. However, when I asked the guy who worked there what it was like, he told me it was easier than the single, foot-width plank I had just crossed. Turns out he was right, and so I tried a lot more of the obstacles I'd initially thought were difficult.
By the end, I’d even completed the single rope course that you crossed holding short, varying level strands of rope to hold you steady (not sure if you can picture this, but maybe visit Sky Trail and you’ll know the one I mean).
By this stage, my 10 y.o. had completed every single obstacle more than once and was heading down. My husband, who isn’t a fan of heights was done and my 8 y.o. had completed a lot more obstacles than I thought he would. I was really proud of him.
Sky Trail taught me a number of lessons.
1. Break down your goals
Firstly, you don’t have to achieve your overriding goal in the first attempt. It can work much better to start with bite sized goals. Achieving smaller successes helps build your confidence and allows you to more comfortably bite off larger chunks.
2. Learn from others’ experience
If someone has done what you’re attempting before you, ask them about their experience. You don’t have to take on their advice, but it’s helpful to learn from them and to assimilate their ideas and suggestions. They may challenge your assumptions and this is often a good thing.
3. Don’t give up!
If you feel you’ve climbed a bit high earlier than you were ready for, there’s no shame in moving back a step or two in order to allow you to move forward with confidence when you’re ready.
4. Remember there’s always more than one way to enjoy an experience
We all tackled Sky Trail at our own level of comfort and confidence and we all enjoyed the experience. Don’t compare your experience and success to that of others. If you’ve overcome an obstacle that challenged you, be proud of that.
5. Safety first
Make sure you’ve got your safety harness on. There is always support and it’s sensible to use it when you need to. There were many obstacles we could have crossed without the harness and we would have been fine, but it was good know there was a bit of support there if we needed it.
So, choose your obstacle and work your way across. It feels fantastic when you reach the next platform!
Have a wonderful day.
Laurenne Di Salvo