Usually we hate winter, we hibernate indoors as the world becomes an arctic tundra! We crave the outdoors and the warm sun of the summer, but it just seems so far away! Lately however we have realised that you can have a great deal of fun in the winter and at the same time spend hardly any money! We are currently saving up for our Long Term travels/ RTW trip so can’t afford that trip over to the Alps… instead we found a cheap, alternative and fun way to get our kicks in the snow…
You might have seen some of our slackline escapades before, in fact this isn’t the first time we have slacklined in the snow either, we also have big plans for slackling this year including finishing our first highline so we need to get out and get our practice in… whatever the weather!
But also… as you may know we are saving up for our RTW/ Long term travels, and hey, saving can be hard when you have an adventurous spirit and just want to get out and explore/ do new and crazy things… but here we had great fun and silliness and spent almost nothing…
Hold up a moment… what the hell are you even doing here?
We get asked this a lot! It’s called slacklining and it’s a lot light tightrope walking only instead of walking along a very tight piece of metal or rope instead we walk on a “slack” piece of flat webbing. The webbing itself is usually pulled quite tight but gets it’s name from the fact it is dynamic, bouncy, wobbly and bows in the middle as you walk. This also means that it’s great for doing tricks and jumps on, which is usually done on a 2 inch line, whereas the one inch which we use more often is for longer or higher lines, although we can do a few jumps and stuff too!
Setting up the rig is quite simple, you can buy special lines where your line itself will wrap around one anchor and the other side with be a specially sewn ratchet. Ours is a little more complicated as it is a self made set up using slings around the anchors with the line being threaded through what is basically a single chain link and a shackle to lock it in place. Once you get onto longer or highlines the set up becomes more complex again requiring specialist line lockers and pulley systems…
This year we hope to return to a couple of highlines we have tried before, one being over the docks in liverpool and another in Bolton. Both these need to be set up by people with more knowledge than us two as of course safety is a high priority. These lines have a rope taped to the underside of the line as a backup as well as using solid metal “O” rings which run along the line as you walk and are tied to a rope which is then tied to your harness. It’s actually very safe if all set up correctly, but it’s mega scary as you fall below the line!
Slacklining over the snow barefoot is actually a great way to practice for highlining, OK falling in the snow isn’t the same as falling off the highline but you still don’t want to do it! It really makes you focus and concentrate that little bit extra. Often we also put the line above head height which although isn’t a highline it is still quite daunting to walk which also helps us overcome the nerves which creep in on the highline and introduce unwanted wobbles!
This slackline set up was not too long as we hadn’t been out on the line for a few months given our travelling, Nic’s university work and her knee operation. In fact this was the first time out on the line since then so it was a bit of a tester to see how it was going… given another operation is needed this year to. That also means we are keener than ever to get back out and make the highline happen this year as it may be a while before we get the chance again.
With our rustiness in mind we thought we would likely be off the line sharpish, we set up something mid range length wise to let us get a feel for it again. In the end we both walked the line each way first go after an initial first few wobbly steps we were back walking confidently. Slacklining seems to be one of those things that you struggle with at first, it took us quite a while to be able to stop the line shaking and even take a step. But once you get it and have that feel for the line you don’t loose it, it just feels natural!
The main thing when slacking it to keep your head up, look at a fixed point in front of you and use your arms to balance your centre of gravity over the line. The more movement you put in the line the more you will get back! So it’s about being steady and smooth, relaxed and composed! It’s actually harder with two feet on the line, usually when I start to wobble a bit I stand with one leg, for me my right but for shorty his left (I think that comes from skateboard stances!) on the line and take a few breaths.
I won’t lie, the first time I ever stepped on a line I never thought it was something I would ever get the hang of it. The line was shaking like crazy I was scared to even put my other foot on it, let alone let go of the tree I was clinging to. Falling off a slackline isn’t straight forward either, the line holds a lot of tension (that’s why your anchors need to be solid too) and when you are in the middle of the line you are a lot lower than the lines natural height. This means if you just step off you can easily get flicked up and go flying, so you need to get ready to jump away from the line!
We carried on walking and messing about on the line until we fell off… because you really did want to see us running barefoot in the snow! It’s that cold it actually burns your feet! Slacking itself is actually more strenuous than it looks so you do get warm quite fast…although the same can’t be said for your feet!
After that we were keen to make the most of the snow and craved some snowboarding action. The only problem is that things are moving on the house and it’s looks like we might have some tenants… which is a good thing as it means our travelling plans are moving along, but it means a hefty outlay to get it all up and running… so we can’t even afford to hit the local indoor slopes, let alone head over to the Alps!
At this point the snow was beginning to thin down… quite a lot! But we happened across as cheap kids snowboard in a charity shop window for a few pounds and thought… what the hell, that looks like fun… cheap fun!
Given the epicness (not) of the “snowboard” we just found a small hill around the corner from the house to test it out instead of walking miles up into the hills! It turns out it’s actually harder than real snowboarding because your feet slip out and it’s impossible to control!! Also what ended up turning into just wet grass is possibly the worst surface! We had a laugh though and look forward to some more snow coming so we can get on some bigger hills!
Although we spent many years skateboarding and have been snowboarding with various youth groups as teenagers we aren’t exactly proficient, although we do have ambitions of doing a season somewhere whist travelling and maybe even training to be instructors one day… so once we get moved back into the parents house we are looking to go on a full day course at the local indoor slope… so keep an eye out for more photos of us falling over!
Here’s to more snow, more adventures and more fun… and hopefully one day a snowboarding trip…maybe when we get down to New Zealand in a couple of years on our RTW?
Next weekend it’s back out climbing we hope…
But really…it’s all about saving and still having fun!
But the thing is, what this post is also mostly about is that you can have fun without spending money… we are saving up for the biggest, most life changing trip of our lives, we are saving to escape and to change our lives. It’s exciting, but also sometimes it feels like we can’t afford to do anything in the mean time. But really, just get out there and make the most of where you live, go for a walk and find something you never knew existed, explore your hobbies and try some other silly ones out whist you save up instead of being tempted to spend in the short term… because this time next year all those bigger adventures we crave will be ours!