The Last Resort: August 31
On the bridge before the big jump! Apparently my appetite for adventure wasn't satisfied by paragliding, because guess what I signed up for today? My thrill-seeking tour of Nepal took me to new heights (to the Tibetan border to be exact) for a day of canyoning (rappelling down waterfalls--7 to be exact) and...wait for it...bungee jumping.
Canyoning, and...bungee jumping. That's right. Because hurling myself off a mountain wasn't enough, I'm changing venues to a bridge. And going head-first. And it's non-refundable, so I have to jump. Good lord. James decided to do an overnight hike in the mountains, so I was on my own for this particular adventure.
Yes. This gal right here faced her fear of heights (seriously--I get dizzy if I stand on a chair in my living room) and signed up to jump off a suspension bridge in the middle of a gorge, more than 160 metres in the air, with raging waters below.
I met a med student from Norway (read: McSteamy) on the bus ride there who was also doing the jump for the first time, and we talked the whole way, which didn't give me time to get nervous about what I was about to do.
I had a full day so I wasn't sure which activity I would be doing first--the jump or the canyoning. Luckily, they gave me no time to think and called my name as the first person of the day to jump.
It wasn't so bad on the bridge itself, although it may have helped that I didn't look down once while crossing. Once I was in the middle of the bridge, getting my ankles strapped into a harness that would be my only lifeline preventing me from falling to my death in the river below, the flutters began in my stomach.
"Breathe in, breathe out, and look out at the gorgeous scenery around me," is what I kept telling myself. It's a really interesting exercise in managing your fear, because logically I know nothing can happen--this isn't going to hurt, it's safe, lots of people do it--but that doesn't stop your mind from going crazy thinking of the worst case scenarios.
Once your ankles are strapped together, you penguin-walk your way over to the jumping platform and the bungee cord is secured to your harness. The scariest part of the jump, in my opinion, is the fact that you have to jump head-first. there's no tentativeness allowed here (just my luck).
The jumping platform...see? It's not so scary til you look down. I step out onto the platform and my wall of fear-control disintegrates, and panic takes over. You know that feeling of dread when you get caught red-handed telling a lie? That's the best way for me to describe what it feels like to be on that edge, half listening to the instructions, half thinking about what you want your last words to be. I hear the instructions come to an end, and the guy counts down: "Three, two, one, JUMP!" My legs are frozen. I can't do it. I literally can't make my body perform the motion necessary to move forward.
The last thing I saw before I jumped. He cajoles me closer to the edge, and I am convinced he is trying to make me walk off the edge. "No, I don't think I can do this" I say to him. He reassures me the longer I'm up there the worse it gets...and he's totally right. I take a deep breath, I think about all the scary things that could happen, decide to listen to the part that's trusting everything will work out, and tip forwards into nothingness (a swan dive was out of the question--my legs were jelly).
Me, mid-jump...proof I actually did it! The best way I can describe it is terror combined with elation--so basically what you feel when you go down that first big hill on a roller coaster. The feeling of falling is amplified because you have this narrow canyon wall on both sides of you, and you're watching the angry rapids of the river get closer and closer until suddenly you're being yanked upwards at the last second. Floating through the air, you're so disoriented that the feeling of falling has disappeared, and you're laughing because you can't believe you just did that, and it feels great.
Then you feel the ankle straps move, and terror seizes you again in full force. LOGICALLY, I know I was strapped in tight and wasn't going anywhere. But show me someone who is thinking logically while falling at 150 km/h. I thought I was going to survive the big jump, only to have my harness come loose on the after-bounces and die in the river anyway. How anti-climactic.
I'm flexing my feet for dear life, praying i stay in long enough to be brought down to safety, and finally I'm on solid ground. I have so much adrenaline that I can't stand right away--my legs are too shaky, and I'm laughing so hard I'm crying. It really makes you crazy!
A nice guy I met on the bus (Ash from Nepal, whattup!) was kind enough to take a few photos for me, but I also bought the DVD (as proof that I really did it, because I know I probably won't even believe it in a few years). They had to mail it home to Canada since I left early the next day, but when I get it, you'd better believe you will get to witness the hilarity of a little blonde girl tipping herself off the ledge of a suspension bridge.
Luckily, I had a half-hour hike back up the canyon to get back to the lodge to come down off my adventure high--they definitely fail to mention that part in the brochure--and prepare for my next activity, canyoning (which I cannot BELIEVE I spent money on Crocs for--so disgusted with myself). I changed into my gear--wetsuit, helmet, and Crocs..ugh...and found myself hiking the same trail I had just come up from bungee jumping!
My canyoning gear...minus the heinous atrocity that are Crocs...I was afraid they'd crack my lens if photographed
Canyoning was a change of pace from the morning's adrenaline rush; we rappelled down seven waterfalls of varying heights--I think the biggest was 47 metres. It was fun, but slow since we were a group of 10 and had to wait for everyone to do it one at a time. You get soaked, no way around it, and it made for some great views. At some parts we could even watch others doing their bungee jumps.
All in all, it was a busy, exhausting, exhilarating day, and I wouldn't change it for anything.
Today was one of the best days of my life.