I love to rappel. My brother brought me when I was thirteen and ever since I've enjoyed being on a harness, attached to a rope, and whizzing down a mountainside. I've been down into Moaning Cavern outside of Yosemite hanging among the stalactite and stalagmites. But there was one thing I'd always wanted to try - rappelling down a waterfall.
I got my chance in Futaleufu, Chile. A local single mom runs a great little outfit right out the back of her house. She handed me and two other guys wetsuits, helmets, and harnesses and then we took off through the thick wilderness. We stepped over a barbed wired fence, crossed a stream, climbed a hill, and we were there - on top of a waterfall.
She attached the ropes, showed us how to lean out over the waterfall, and the first round she placed a secondary safety rope to ensure we didn't go too fast.
The adrenaline began to pump as I threaded my figure eight attached to my harness. The first step is always the scariest part of rappelling. You have to lean your butt back into the air and sit - well there's nothing to sit on - but you have to let the harness support you while your hips are at a 90 degree angle. This is easy on rocks, but when water is rushing all around your feet and the rocks are slippery, it becomes a bit more intense.
I leaned back and began to let the rope slowly slide through my hands. The rush of the waterfall pounded beside me and over my legs. The spray covered my face and I laughed with excitement as I felt the water's power. In the past I'd sat under a small waterfall for a few seconds and realized it hurt as the water slapped my head and I couldn't breathe or see. It wasn't the greatest experience. This was different. This was a pure adrenaline rush as I played in the water and descended into the pool below.
We spent the entire afternoon descending different cliffs and waterfalls in this beautiful area while sliding in mud as we made our way through the forest. It was a day I'll never forget and one I hope to repeat.