Francesca Flaws tells her story.
It is dark. Your clothes are saturated from the waist down, becoming soaked as the water rises. You should be cold but your body is warm with anticipation and the fear of what’s next. Movement behind you urges you along but also unsteadies you. You’ve reached the narrow end of the passage and crawl through. At this point the cave walls have closed in to the point where you have to tilt your head to continue on. You take a breath and lunge forward – SMACK! – you fall back into the person behind you. The current has swept you off your feet. The line behind you slows as you stop, gasping for air. The water has become cold, and the experience frightening. Your chest tightens, a shot of adrenaline rushes through you and you push on. Light! Finally. Like a child escaping the womb you struggle out of the rock face and emerge into the sun soaked landscape. Standing up you check yourself – good – you’re not dead.
The current has swept you off your feet. The line behind you slows as you stop, gasping for air.
On 14th December 2014, thanks to a Concrete Doctors’ scholarship, I headed off to OPC (Hillary Outdoors) in Turangi. After settling in, the week started off with a bang as our instructor, Darren took us immediately to the high ropes. On subsequent days we continued on to summit Ruapehu, go abseiling and caving and battled the wilderness on a three day overnighter. The course was both mentally and physically testing but was rewarding beyond words.
I am incredibly grateful to the College and to the Concrete Doctors for this amazing opportunity.