Last spotted in San Francisco, USA on March 28, 2003, 1:23 pm
Who is he? Where is he going? Where has he been? David Barrett / Quinthar
Prev / Eastward Ho! / South Africa / Brenton on Sea / Bloukrans Bridge Next

Eventually I make my way up to the edge, bit by bit. Seeing as how my ankles are strapped tightly together (thankfully), walking is replaced by a sort of hop. But hopping right next to a 216m drop is a bit more daunting than it might seem. Sure, there's a big rope attached to my feet, but... still. I'm taking pictures and trying to get in all the sights when someone grabs the camera out of my hands and I notice they're counting down and nearing 1 at a fast pace. Next thing I know, I lean forward and bend my knees slightly, then jump out into the great unknown. In my best swan dive I jut my chin down to the shallow river 200m, 175m, 150m below, eyes fixed on the horizon that is quickly overtaken by the rising canyon walls. Then tension on my feet increases and my head drops further into a vertical dive, when the g's kick in. First a little, then a lot, my head is filled with every drop of blood in my entire body. By the time I reach the full extent of my fall, an indeterminate distance over the gorge floor (I was a bit busy at the time to pay much attention), I'm suddenly being pulled back up to the bridge above. In an attempt to get my bearings, I pull myself up as if touching my toes, just to regain the familiar feeling of having my eyes above my nose. Several cycles later I'm more or less hanging still, equidistant between the bridge above and ground below.

Now, obviously if I were to die, it would have happened by now. The straps on my feet have already done their job, so it would seem that any worries I might have should be finished. However, this is the absolute scariest part of the entire jump.

I'm hanging, by my feet, about 100m above a full forest of tall trees. The straps aren't directly on my ankles, but rather on a thick, soft, neoprene blanket-sort-of-thing that presumably is to make the experience not excruciatingly painful (indeed, it's not painful at all). However, this soft, squishy substance finally has time to readjust itself, meaning that the only thought in my mind is how it feels like I'm slipping. I rationally explain to myself that of course it's slipping a little, as it's just getting comfy with my feet. However, despite my rationalizing, my toes refuse to stop attempting to touch my knees, with the presumption being that that'll keep me from falling, and if I were to let my feet point, I'd slip to my doom. The fact that it's not even wrapped around my feet, but my shins, eludes me completely.

I wait and swing, and eventually my pure terror is diluted with a sort of peace, though whether or not that was from the beautiful scene I witness suspended silently in the ether, or from a growing sense of impending doom that I cannot avoid, I'm not sure.

Next thing I know, a man is lowered down next to me and clips me onto his wire in several locations. Normally this would make me feel good, but one of the places he decides to clip me just happens to be under this big velcro sheet that I figured was important to keep me from not falling. So, when he rips off this sheet, my heart skips several beats. Thankfully the redundant safeties kept me alive as they hauled me back to the deck of the bridge and my heart returned to a normal pace.

Copyright 2017 - David Barrett -