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ROCK GODS


Clockwise from top left: Off the line, slackliners often gather


cliff side or around the campfi re; Flip Hickson starts his day at sunrise; Hickson and Ray Diaz slackline with a webbed swami belt that is attached to the line; gear is backed up at least twice for safety.


focused on this all-encompassing task, and awareness of the rest of the world falls away. “When you fi rst start off , you get that feeling of,


‘Wow,


I’m walking on a 1-inch piece of webbing! This is crazy!’ says Cameron Gardner, a Los Angeles-based photogra- pher visiting Moab to practice slacklining. “Once you get past that, it’s more of an active form of meditation. It’s about being there in the moment, and nothing else really matters except the next step.”


Tightrope walking has been around for centuries, but slacklining — the sport of balancing on fl at webbing strung between two anchor points, such as trees or rocks — was only born about four decades ago. It began as a way for rock climbers to hone their balance and concentration, then evolved into a social activity at campsites after a long day of climbing. In the past 10 years, the sport has become more popular among a wider set of outdoor enthusiasts and has branched into various disciplines. Slackliners, also known as slackers, now practice highlining over large gaps like canyons, waterlining over lakes and rivers, and even tricklining, w hich involves stunts like handstands and jump turns. Now, there’s even a professional group,


26 DORADO • JULY/AUGUST 2015


YogaSlackers, that performs standing, sitting and inverted yoga postures on slacklines. Yoga postures are furthest from my mind when I ven- ture onto a slackline myself. Even balancing on one sitz bone, feebly lifting my other leg off the ground, feels ten- uous. Slacklining is a practice in rebounding from almost continuous failure, but this instant feedback accelerates learning. I get incrementally better and realize I haven’t felt so willing to fall since I was a kid. Soon I graduate to standing on the slackline. I center


my foot on the webbing and stand decisively upon it, but it jettisons me every time. Finally, after a dozen tries, focusing my gaze on a point at the other end, I step up and, miraculously, stay aloft. My body responds intuitively to the vibrations of the line and for a few moments, it feels as if I am perfectly attuned to it. Part of the appeal of slacklining is its simplicity. To begin, all you need are a piece of webbing, a ratcheting mechanism, two anchors and some patience. Several companies sell ready-made kits that can be set up anywhere, but Moab is a favorite hub for the sport. A legendary rock-climbing destination, this southeast Utah adventure town has long hosted casual slackline sessions


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