Monday, October 4, 2010

Slack Slacklining

What is it?
One of my favorite past times is slacklining.  But every time I say this word I get a lot of blank stares, so let me share with you.  Basically, slacklining is taking a piece of climbing webbing and tying it between 2 trees and walking on it.  Kind of like tight rope walking, but it has "slack." 
It is much more difficult then people expect which results in a funny scene.  Funny Scene:  They place their foot on the line for their first attempt.  Their leg begins to shake violently.  They grab it to try and steady their leg.  They giggle and make some comment about how they can't stop shaking. I love it because it is universal everyone experiences it their first time.  I experienced and you will too.  Don't worry it goes away with practice.
I went slacklining for the first time about 5 years ago. And yes my leg was shaking so bad.  And yes I tried to grab my leg to stop it from shaking.  I didn't slacklined much or consistently until last year when I set a goal to walk the entire line from the beginning to the end, turn and walk back to the beginning.  (Goal met thank you very much).

How to do it?
There are a lot of different set ups for slacklining.  The simplest requires 3 pieces of webbing and 3 carabiners and a lot of muscle.  I'll leave it at that for now, but there are tons of YouTube instruction videos or go chat with someone in the climbing department at REI.

 Where to go?
Here are a few of my favorite places to slackline, but anywhere you can find sturdy trees will work. 

NOTE (What to look for): Look for medium to large trees.  Tree branches shouldn't be too low that when you get on the line you are knocking your head into the leaves or pine needles (ouch).  Spacing between can vary, but you will need more webbing if it is too large. 
  • Utah Capitol - there are great trees on the south west corner.
  • Triangle by Capitol - this sounds funny, but there is a triangle piece of lawn across the street from the capitol on the west side.  On the far north side of the triangle 2 trees run east and west.  A street lamp offers sufficient lighting for a late night slacklining trip.  (The above picture was taken here.)
  • Liberty Park - several great trees, but my favorite are in the middle of the park.  Drive in from the south and turn onto the road in the middle of the park.  Park.  Turn 360 degrees and any of these trees will do.
  • Warm Springs Park - Just off Beck Street this park can be a little creepy at night, but just make sure you take some friends.  Trees on the south side of the park are great.  
  • Sugarhouse Park - This isn't my favorites spot, but it works.  You either have large pine trees on the the south side or skinny Aspens on the north.  Spacing can be difficult and you don't have as many chooses, but the park is fun and always a live with people.

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