Walking the (High) Line
Slackliner Faith Dickey continues to step outside her comfort zone
photography provided by Faith Dickey
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Faith Dickey is not like everyone else.
Maybe she was six years ago. When she was 19. Before she won national and world championship titles. Before she smashed female world records. When she had yet to discover her hidden talent. When she had yet to find the sport of slacklining.
She remembers the day her love affair with the sport started the way people remember their first kiss: vividly and with a touch of stoic enthusiasm. In her free time between balancing jobs, Dickey would hop on her bike and head to Barton Springs to read books and swim.
“One afternoon, I saw some guys with a slackline set up between two pecan trees,” she recalled. “One of them looked at me and was like, ‘Hey! You should try this, it’s really cool,” so I walked up, tried it, and was like, ‘Phew, screw that! It’s way too hard.’”
“I couldn’t do anything on the slackline, so I totally wrote it off,” Dickey said. “But, over the next couple weeks, I kept going to Barton Springs and seeing it. So I was like, ‘Whatever—I may as well try it again. And after a few days, when I was finally able to take a few shaky steps on the line, I was hooked. I decided I had to walk across it.”
Friend and fellow slackliner Kimberly Margaret remembers the first time Dickey told her about the sport: “She said to me, ‘Kimberly, I know it sounds like a strange thing to do, but I’m hooked.’”
It’s a sport that looks a lot like tightrope walking. But it’s anything but. Slacklines are less taut, more dynamic, and more reactionary to the movements of the slacker (one who participates in the sport). Unlike a tightrope, which is made out of a wire or steel cable, a slackline is made of webbing that stretches and sways with each wobbling footstep.