I went paragliding at Easter-time and I can't believe I forgot to tell you! Following my most recent mosaic, I received an email from an friend (and regular visitor to my blog) who reminded me I didn't post about my paragliding experience. So here is the update.
Before I begin though, I should just explain, parasailing is the one where you are pulled up off a water based platform and sail along, being towed by a boat. That is parasailing. I went paragliding.
Paragliding is where you go to an elevated area, run until the wind fills the sail, lifting you off the ground and where (hopefully) the thermals carry you higher and further away from certain a death plunge. It's where you glide around in the thermals and eventually (ever so calmly) return to the lower landing area and glide (ever so gracefully) to a stop. That is pretty much what paragliding is supposed to be. In a nutshell. In theory.
...ever so gracefully... hmmm...
1. SignLifeAway, 2. Instruction, 3. Bright, 4. View
I think you can probably tell by my face in the pic, I was pretty nervous... Looking at it now, I can well remember what he was saying... "so, when I say 'GO' you run straight toward the cliff, and keep running until I say stop! OK?"
Do you see the puzzled look on my face? The one where inside my head I am saying "What do you mean run straight toward the cliff and DON"T STOP! Are you !!*?&^# CRAZY? ??? You can't be SERIOUS" (do the "You can't be SERIOUS" in a John Mcenroe voice and you'll get the idea!)
Surely I had misheard? But no, it turns out, my hearing was fine, it was just my legs that were beginning to fail me!
Mal had organised it. As a surprise. Yep. It was a surprise alright! He's a gem hey! Actually to be fair, and not quite so melodramatic, I had wanted to go for ages, so it was in the ranks of a good surprise.
Of course I was nervous. As I signed my life away on the liability forms, I couldn't even spell Malcolm's name.
The writing was a bit shaky too if I remember correctly. But, as you know I survived to tell the tale, and I have to admit, it was an incredible rush.
I was attached securely. Believe me I checked. A few times. I was attached to the sail (the wing) AND to my instructor. (You don't seriously think I was going to do this by myself did you? I'm crazy yes, but not THAT crazy!)
The wing was lifted into the air and collected by the breeze. And we ran. The wing filled and pulled backward. And we ran. And the edge of the clearing loomed and disappeared out of sight. And we ran. And our feet were no longer touching the ground. And I ran. Feet madly running in the open air until I was told I could stop and I was hitched into the harness. And I sat, holding onto the straps and looked around.
It was FANTASTIC. An amazing view. Pine trees way below and mountains around us. Dark clouds at the horizon and in the distance and the township of Bright lay in early Autumn reds. There was a pretty good breeze, cool, but not cold and I even managed to take a couple of quick pics. We could see other gliders circling and riding the wind. We also circled and lifted briefly, but were unable to find any decent thermals and so it wasn't long before we were heading (at a pretty decent pace) toward the landing field.
Did I say field? Did you picture a cleared area with soft grass ready to cushion and welcome us to the earth in a pillow of loveliness. If you did, you would be wrong... So so wrong. It was a landing field - in a paddock. Yes a paddock. A paddock where cows roamed untethered. Where prolonged drought had turned the earth to uneven humps and pockets. Where there was no welcome mat and no soft landing place. Where uneven ground and a tiny gust of wind unceremoniuosly dumped this earth loving sailer into the dust. Where I was dragged for a few meters until my instructor managed to bring our gravel grazing journey to a stop.
So much for the ever so graceful landing. He was rather good about it really, given that I was his first tandem to trip the entire week-end. Maybe it had something to do with the fact his fall was well cushioned! Yes - you guessed it - by me!