From Mexico to Smith Rock

Written by Jason Fautz

- Bend, Oregon - USA -

It was just days ago that I had broken up with my girlfriend. We were together for two and a half years and it happened during an adventure in El Potrero Chico, Mexico. Van problems, relationship problems, and general dirtbag life problems came to a head during that trip. The way I handled it was to leave them in Mexico and see what else life has to offer. I admit, it wasn’t the best way to handle things but sometimes dramatic life changes can lead to unexpected opportunity.

Squamish VanLife circa 2010

Squamish VanLife circa 2010

Over the next week, me and my dog, Mr. Blaze, serendipitously drove for 1,600 miles moving belongings, exchanging vehicles and forming some sort of makeshift plan for the next month. We eventually landed in The Bivy at Smith Rock State Park, both wics burnt and ready to work towards something new. It took about a week for me to want to emerge from my tent and be social with the other lost boys. Time in the tent was spent processing and deliberating about what to do next. Fortunately, lack of a plan and plenty of time on my hands created the perfect conditions to explore slacklining in a bolder way.

Until then I had never successfully walked across a 170 ft slackline. I went to the field behind the camping area at the Bivy, rigged the 170 footer and started projecting. For the first few days I could barely get a quarter of the way across. With 7 ft anchors, all the impact from flailing was taking a toll. My knees were beginning to ache from repeatedly jumping and falling from the line. That’s not taking into account the out of control, wipeouts that occasionally took my breath away.

Jason Fautz walking the 170 ft longline at Smith Rock State Park.

Jason Fautz walking the 170 ft longline at Smith Rock State Park.

Slowly but surely, I improved. And as I improved, I started reflecting on recent events. My thoughts around the breakup settled, enjoyment in movement was coming back and friends were congregating at Smith Rock from winter travels. The park was becoming alive again.

The 170 footer became the 300 footer which became the 400 footer. Over summer, my skills had dramatically improved, but more significantly my outlook on life as a whole had shifted. I began looking at the slackline as a metaphor for life. Like how waves, frequencies and vibrations affect us to our core. Whether you’re operating within one extreme or the other, I found that balance brought peace.

Jason Fautz on Temple of the Winds at Smith Rock State Park.

Jason Fautz on Temple of the Winds at Smith Rock State Park.

Slacklining to me is more than just an activity. It’s an outlook on life. It’s a tool to interact with waves and frequencies, an instrument to dazzle, an adventure to pursue. I found so much within the slackline that I pledged to myself that I would share it with as many people as possible. SlackTech was created from that experience.


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