“You’re crazy” …”Are you out of your mind?” These were just some of the responses when I told my family and friends I was going to go bungee jumping. I guess jumping off of a bridge with essentially a large rubber band attached to you does sound a bit like a death wish, but it had been on my bucket list (no pun intended) for quite some time, and I found a few brave friends willing to come along.
The fabled “Bridge to Nowhere Bungee Jump” here in Los Angeles County was the perfect opportunity. You hike five miles to an abandoned bridge in the Angeles National Forest, do your jumps, and then hike the five miles back. No option to drive close to the bridge, it’s in the middle of…well…nowhere. You must hike. But I’ve done lots of hiking throughout the world with my active travel tour company “Active World Journeys”, so this would be a cinch, right? WRONG. It was one of the most intense and challenging hikes I’ve ever done. We had to cross a gushing river about 10 times, sometimes with the water up to our waists. In fact, the group of 20 of us would need to lock our arms together for safety as we crossed the river against the dangerous current. The hike had literally turned into a survival mode ordeal. On top of that, there was a lot of rock scrambling on the hike and it just happened to be a cold and rainy day in L.A. when we did it which added to the slipperiness on the rocks and as the day wore on our hands and feet started to become numb from the cold and wetness combination.
Once we finally made it to the bridge we were a soggy chilled-to-the-bone mess, and just plain miserable. And now we had to wrap our heads around jumping off this bridge, which sits 120 feet above a gorge. It was built in the 1930s but was only functional for a few years until a massive flood came through destroying everything around it except the bridge. Today, Bungee America owns the bridge and about 50 acres surrounding it. The company has a fun and professional team of employees who hike with you and supervise the jumps. They’ve been in business for about 34 years and have a perfect record of safety.
After about 30 minutes of some preliminary training on the bridge to get us ready for our jumps, it was go time. So let’s do this! Wooh hooh! I signed up for two jumps, which included a Bungee America T-Shirt. I decided to do the backwards jump first so I couldn’t see what was below me. I was just locked into my instructor’s eyes as he counted down my jump: “5, 4, 3, 2, 1”…..weeeeeeeeeeeee. It was an exhilarating jump and I did really well, scoring 10 out of 10 from the instructors.
When it came time to do my second jump; the front forward one, I was all of the sudden quite nervous because now as I stood on the bridge platform I could see everything down below and around me. However; I listened for the confident voice of my instructor, and then came the countdown: “5, 4, 3, 2, 1”…..weeeeeeee! I felt like Superman! It was another 10 out of 10 for me; however, I did get a little motion sick on the front-forward jump.
With bungee jumping, I learned to stay focused on my target and that the solution to my problems was not down below. (Seems like that could be a metaphor for anything in our lives.) My jumps taught me that when you push through your fear, you build courage. And when you build courage, you gain self-confidence. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel the urge to bungee jump again, but I’m so glad I did it and I now have an extra reserve of courage to access in life going forward.
After our five-mile hellish hike back in the rain and cold, we jumped in the car, cranked up the heat and started drying out. A sense of accomplishment and pride swept over us, and we all agreed we should go to the nearest restaurant/bar and celebrate our bold achievement! But then again, my friends and I are always looking for a reason to head to the nearest restaurant/bar to celebrate anything.
So, with our drinks in hand, it was 5, 4, 3, 2, 1….down the hatch!
Jack Witt, MS, CPT
Fitness and Health Coach
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