By Patty Wilber
I thought I’d deviate from horses for just this one week as the trip to California for the Bungee Jumping Experience was quite the adventure!
We went to Los Angeles, where the weather is usually balmy (except on the weekend of the Los Angeles Marathon, which this happened to be…)
We signed up to jump with Bungee America. I tried to pirate their pics but could not, so you ‘ll just have to go to the link to look yourself!
They jump off a bridge a five mile hike up the East Fork of the San Gabriel River. In the late 30’s there was a road building project in this canyon. It lasted two years and was eventually scrapped due to lack of funds. The road and all bridges were removed over time, but this last bridge is on private property, so it remains.
Th weather was predicted to be cruddy, but the jump organizers said a little rain never stopped them. Bring rain gear and be ready!
The weather WAS cruddy and the crowd of 80 (eighty!) registered jumpers dropped to about 25. We, not being wimps, (and having already flown to LA anyhow) were ready to go.
We started hiking up the canyon, back and forth across the river and in the rain. It wasn’t warm, but it was not that cold either, so it wasn’t an unpleasant hike. Except it kept raining harder…
And the wind started to pick up.
Five miles one way (10 round trip) seemed pretty long to me. I ride A LOT, but I don’t hike. My joints (a lot more than my muscles) noticed. My breathing was fine because even though my aerobic capacity frankly sucks, I was enjoying the advantage of living at high altitude (6800 ft) but hiking at low altitude.
At high altitude the body builds more red blood cells to carry oxygen through the system, as it is harder to get O2 into the system. So, there I was at low altitude with plentyof oxygen available, AND lots of RBCs. Bennie: lots of oxygen to the tissues to help produce energy!
By the time we reached the top, the wind was really fierce, and I kept thinking we were all going to become hypothermic if we had to wait around to jump under the canopy they mentioned they’d have set up.
I was also wondering how the canopy was still standing.
It wasn’t. Instead, we all piled into a Sea Can–a sea worthy shipping container Bungee America uses to store equipment at the bridge.
How windy was it? We sent Jim out to check!
There was also hail. Ultimately, our Bungee Leaders suggested we bail (well the Sea Can WAS full of water). Here is why Bungee Jumping off a bridge in high wind is Bad: If you get blown off center, you may bounce back up…into the bridge, plus if they send the tow rope down to haul you up, and it keeps blowing out of reach, you are stuck hanging from the harness, swinging like a pendulum, hung out to …um…in the pouring rain.
We ate. We re-garbed and braved the maw of the storm! The first 1/2 mile was worrisome as the temperature had dropped and heavy rain was driving into our faces. There were a few times when I could barely step forward against the gale! You can imagine what the poncho was wont to do!
Fortunately, the wind and the rain became less intense as we descended (but the river kept getting deeper…)
Much of the rock in the canyon is loose and we were warned to watch for falling rock. We saw a a landslide across the canyon! Rock dropped off the cliff, shattered and almost seemed as if it were going to shoot clear across to us! Then a hunk fell right behind us–close enough that we ran out of the way.
We made it back, changed into dry clothing–harder to do when your fingers are non-functional due to cold– and drove home.
Turns out this rock issue is a big deal, because there was a rock plow cleaning up the road!
We have rescheduled for the fall…or maybe I should say autumn?