Photo and video 360° panoramic experience

Photo and video 360° panoramic experience

Take the Walk

Feel the thrill of walking between two skyscrapers over 600 feet above the Chicago River.

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Nik Wallenda

Here we are, standing at the edge of Marina Tower-West, where I'll be starting my walk on November 2nd. For you, it's daytime, but for me it's going to be dark, probably windy, and it might even be raining or snowing. But I'm going to do this. Rain, snow, sleet, wind. I'm taking this journey. Generally at this point, I'm experiencing a lot of emotions, everything from a lot of nerves; my heart's racing. I am excited I'm anticipating what I might feel when I get out there on that wire. One of the challenges of walking a wire in unique condition like this is I don't know what the wire's going to be like. Every single walk I do, the wire is completely different. It moves different under my feet. I don't know what to expect once I get out there. And with that comes a lot of anxiety.

As long as I train properly, my muscles should be okay at this point. They will definitely be tense. We know it's going to be extremely cold, they're going to be tight. So I'm not sure how my body's going to react to that. I've done as much training as possible to this point but until you get in this real-world situation, you never know how you're going to feel.

Halfway across my calves are going to be burning, my arms are going to be strained, that balancing pole weighs about 45 lbs. battling the winds, battling the weather, I'm gonna be completely drained. Muscles are going to want to start giving up. They're going to want to start relaxing. I can't relax at this point, I'm only halfway there. I need to remain focused and I need to remain strong so that I can make it up this cable to the other side. The fact that I'm walking uphill makes it much more challenging. There's so much more strain on my body. That combined with the weather conditions: It's going to be a huge, tremendous challenge.

So this is the point where I normally celebrate. I relax and I'm excited to celebrate with my family now that I've completed another amazing walk over a beautiful city. But I can't celebrate yet. I have got to stay in that zone. Although I’ve done a walk like I've never done before. Incline walk over 500 feet above a city finishing over 600 feet above a city. I've gotta stay in the zone, ‘cause I’m about to take a challenge that's even harder. I've gotta get in an elevator. I've got about a 5-10 minute trek from this building back to Marina City. This is something I've never done before—completed one treacherous walk and gone on to one that's even more challenging.

I've made it to the top of Marina Towers. Now, I'm looking across this next challenge. The cable’s only about 100-feet long but to do this blindfolded with the conditions that I'm gonna do it in, seems nearly impossible. As I mentioned earlier, when it's dark out, there's something 100 times more eerie about the fact that I'm taking away the most important sense that a wire-walker will ever have or ever use, and that's vision. I'm losing that sense so now I have to focus on my equilibrium and my hearing. That's how I’m going to make it across this walk. It's extremely stressful to not be able to see what I'm doing. If the wind comes up, if a gust comes up, I don't know how I'm going to deal with it. Of course I've trained, but it's extremely draining to me mentally and both physically thinking that I'm gonna make this walk and if something were to happen and I want to try to go down to the safety of that wire, I'm not going to be able to see what I'm grabbing for. I'm using my feet is a guide. As I slide my feet on this wire, I can feel the stabilizer cables as I come to them so I know how far I am. Normally I would use my vision to see that wire moving but at this point, I don't have that sense, so I've got to keep a foot on the wire no matter what as I glide my feet along and move to the other side.

At this point, I've completed both walks. I'm there. It's time to celebrate; my body's going to want to go to sleep and relax. My muscles are going to be burning and fatigued. I'm going to be excited. The fact that I'm gonna hug my wife, I'm gonna hug my three kids, my mother my father … and spend time with them. But also my mind starts to think about the next challenge. What is it? How can I make it bigger how can I make it better? How do I do something greater than the last? How do I do something extremely unique? That continues to build that legacy that my grandfather started over 200 years ago and 7 generations.

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Stay Wired In and follow Nik’s progress during Skyscraper Live on your computer, tablet or phone with exclusive updates and coverage from Chicago on Nov. 2nd

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