The weekend before last, a line of cars heading up Boulder Canyon slowed suddenly when drivers noticed a person standing in mid-air between two buttresses on the south side of the canyon. Some of the vehicles pulled over to make sure they were seeing what they thought they were seeing.
A closer look showed a man walking across a slackline anchored in the rock on either side, at least 50 feet above the ground, swaying as slowly, carefully, the man moved step by step over the gulch. At one point he wavered, his outstretched arms windmilling as he fought for balance. The group of spectators on the side of the canyon gasped as the high line walker rolled off the line and was soon dangling from his safety belt attached to his body.
It is not a sport for height fearers or the faint of heart, but it has gained in popularity, moving from slacklines a few feet off the ground to the high lines in the mountains.
With high tech safety equipment, there is limited danger if all protection gear is used. The most danger occurs on the highway as rubberneckers slow down suddenly or even pull over without warning, inviting a rear-end collision.
Many of the highlines are set up further down Boulder Canyon. The most recent one was right after Boulder Falls, in an area owned by National Forest Service, as well as Boulder County and the City of Boulder.
Boulder County rules and regulations do not specifically prohibit slacklining. However, if the slackline is established in a way that it damages or defaces vegetation, geological features or cultural artifacts, it would be prohibited and the people involved could be fined up to $300.
Also, USFS has the discretion to enforce a disorderly conduct regulation if the activity is deemed to be unsafe to the participant or other visitors. The fine for this is $150.
It is an amazing feat to watch, but canyon drivers should be aware of the parking regulations along the road and give ample warning before pulling off the highway.