Friday, April 10, 2015

Rope Bridges

    Anyone ever try walking across a rope bridge? I read about these when I was around 14 (gee what a surprise, me reading about something) and wondered how they worked. As usual when I read something the books was great about the general idea but lacking in detail. Still, it sparked my interest enough to make me want to give it a try. I don't know about where you live but around Oklahoma at the time, rope bridges were in short supply. As far as I knew there weren't any nor could I find anyone who had actually walked across one. Since lack of knowledge had never held me up before I decided to make one
myself and see how it worked.

   You would think that even as dumb as I was back then my first choice to attempt this would have been one of the local creeks close to home. Of course if you did think that then you definitely haven't been keeping track of any of my other "great plans". My first thought was of Deepfork river and the first pklace I thought of as a great place was down in Coalton bottoms where the old railroad bridge used to be.

   I figured it would take a pretty good sized rope to hold me up so I could walk from one side of the river to the other since where I planned on trying it was a good hundred yards across. My first problem was the fact that I didn't have any kind of rope that would reach that far big or small. I did happen to know some cousins that had lots of rope. I'm not going to mention their names cause I'm not sure they ever figured out where their rope disappeared to. Let's just say that I ended up with some rope.

   The book I read talked about using three ropes for the bridge, two on the top for your hands and one on the bottom for you to walk on. It turned out that I only had enough rope for two. That was OK in my pea brain cause the book also mentioned a two rope bridge although only in passing, it didn't explain a lot about how to use it.

   I took of early one Saturday morning with the rope I had "borrowed" and hiked down to the river. I was happy to find a good sized tree on the near bank to tie the end of the rope to. As soon as I had it tied up high and nice and tight to that first tree I discovered my second problem, how did you get the rope to the other side? I didn't remember reading anything about this problem. The only thing I could think of was to swim across the river. That wasn't quite what I had in mind but since it was all I could think off, I uncoiled the rope down to the river bank, took off my shoes and shirt and jumped in. Let me tell you, swimming across a fast, cold river isn't easy! The first time I tried it I got out to the middle where the current was the fastest and because i was holding the end of the rope I ended up just being swept down stream and right back to the same bank I had started from! After I lay on the bank for awhile and got my breath back I went up stream from where the rope was tied and tried it again. I did make it across the second time even though i was still way down stream form where I had started and had to walk back up.

  By the time I got back to the top of the bank and found a decent tree to tie the rope to I was wondering why would I even want a bridge? I mean. I was already across the river, right? Anyhow, I tied the end of the rope to the tree, pulling it as tight as I could. Now I had a rope stretched across the river! of course it was only one rope and as dumb as I might have been I knew I wasn't a tightrope walker so just the one wasn't going to do me much good. I tied a second rope about five feet above the first and trekked back down to the waters edge. What else could I do? The only way to get that second rope across the river was to swim back! At least that time I was smart enough to start out way above where I planned on ending up!

   Once I was on the  other side I tied the second  rope to the same tree as the first, again, pulling it as tight as I could. Now I had a two rope bridge! As I stood there looking at it I figure that this was going to work out just fine! All I had to do was keep my feet on the bottom rope and use the top rope to help me keep my balance, what could be so hard about that? WRONG! You have any idea how hard it is to walk across a sagging, swaying rope trying too hang onto another sagging swaying rope when both of them tend to go the opposite directions? I made it less than a quarter of the way across before I fell off the first time! The second time I almost made it halfway before I went swimming again! It took me four, count em, FOUR times before I made it to the other bank!

   I was really proud of myself when I finally made it across the first time! I wasn't so proud when it took me six times just to make it back across.