A young man finds a strange way to relax.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
The barefoot 21-year-old man stands with his arms out, completely balanced and clearly in a meditative state of mind. Normal enough – only he’s walking a thin rope tied between two trees.
Pierre Carrillo is a “slack liner” from Salinas. The cable is about 1½ inches thick, consisting of nylon webbing and held tight between the two large tree trunks near San Carlos Beach.
Carrillo crosses the line, set about four feet off the ground, without difficulty. His skill belies his inexperience: He began this sport just five months ago, but now he slack lines about five times a week. Carrillo was inspired by a friend who is a practicing Buddhist and attested to its significant calming qualities – something most ground-bound humanids find counter intuitive.
Carrillo, who wants to be a doctor, is preparing for a test at MPC.
“I have a lecture exam tonight,” he says. “That’s why I’m doing this, so I can relax before the test.”
His sport includes two categories. There’s “low lining,” which is setting the rope a few feet off the ground. “This is fun to jump and mess around with,” says Carrillo. Then there’s “high lining,” where slack liners traverse the rope at high altitudes. This past summer, Libby Sauter of Nevada became the first woman to slack line the Lost Arrow Spire highline, 2,890 feet above the Yosemite Valley floor.
Danger is a part of the thrill, but for Carrillo – who has had local police ask him to stop his slack lining – it’s the peaceful aspect that matters. “It’s not performing,” he says. “It helps me breathe. It’s for relaxation. I got hurt only once, when I was peeing out of the top of a tree.”