We are fortunate to live in Sarasota County, the same county as world famous tightrope walker, Nik Wallenda. He trains for his death defying walks in the area and sometimes makes his practice sessions open to the public.
He is now practicing for a walk across the Chicago River on November 2, 2014. Nik plans to walk part of the way blindfolded, that is, after he climbs about 100 feet up a 15 degree incline. To train for this feat, he set up a crane to duplicate the incline of the rope. There was more rigging to hold a section of straight wire, to simulate the portion of the walk he will do blindfolded. The announcer said Nik is not yet comfortable with the blindfold, so he is walking with his eyes closed. Does that really make it any less dangerous?
Wallenda is one cool, calm guy. He walked out to mount the wire as nonchalantly as I stroll to the fridge for a cold drink. Without any hesitation he started up the steep wire at ground level. He even looked at the crowd as he walked, seeming not to have a care in the world. But then, this is the same guy who walked across Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon.
As he neared the top of the cable, we could see the wind billowing his shirt. It didn’t seem to faze him, other than he slowed his pace a bit. I imagine his legs may have been getting a bit heavy as he neared the top of the wire. There was a crane with a lift at the top to carry him back down to the ground.
No sooner was he down; he walked over to the other rigging set up and climbed up to start the blind walk. The man is just incredible. He was noticeably more cautious walking with his eyes closed. Instead of putting one foot out in front of the other, as in a normal walk, he slid his foot on the wire to make sure he was always in contact with it. His father, seen on the ground in the center of the photo, with the wide-brimmed hat, guides the steps Nik takes along the wire. Dad warns Nik as he approaches the support knuckles on the cable.
All of this was done with no safety net, no harnesses or any other sort of protection against an accident.
As a local boy, Wallenda gets a good bit of media coverage. He seems to be a devoted family man and overall good guy. He gives lots of time to area charities and good causes. All of us in Florida are wishing him the best. To learn more about Wallenda, visit his website.
Mrs. Fog did all of the photography for this trip; she is quite the accomplished photographer.
FOG sez: I tried to tightrope walk once; had to stop, I couldn’t see my feet.