The goodness of summer is in full swing. For me, there’s not much difference between winter and summer… well, I guess when talking location wise. Part or all of most days are spent outdoors in the mountains. Endless activities to chose from to keep you occupied. All those activities are great, but a little “spice of life” (variety) would be nice. Something to get the heart pounding. An adventure that will give me an adrenaline fix that will hold me over until winter. A few ideas come to mind, but one stands out. Skydiving has been on the list for awhile and it seems like the perfect adventure to breakup the summer routine!
Choosing where to Skydive…
So, we head down the hill towards Lincoln, CA to Skydive Sacramento. There are many places in the Tahoe area to chose from, but some friends had a good experience here and I couldn’t find any information on jumpers dying or getting injured. Seemed like as good of a place as any.
Talking during the drive I really had no concerns or worries about the experience. The only thing I wondered was if I would have that feeling in my stomach you get on a roller coaster. It’s probably normal to be a little nervous taking part in an activity which most consider extreme. Some probably think it’s an unnecessary risk, but the real risk is actually driving there. According to the United States Parachute Association (USPA) out of an estimated 3.2 million skydives last year, there were 24 fatalities. I didn’t find this out until after the fact, but it wouldn’t matter. It was on. After another 45 minutes the short 2 1/2 hour drive was over.
How does a skydiving adventure begin?
We pull up and head inside eager to see what’s next. After a quick greeting from an instructor in a Point Break t-shirt, it was off to sign our life away and watch safety videos. Some were informative, others were humorous, but most were dry. Once finished, it was out to the warehouse or waiting area. The California sun was in full force so it warmed up quickly. Time moved relatively fast due to the excitement. I checked out the equipment, watched others take instruction and began to watch the guy repacking chutes. With a meticulous intricacy he ensured each chute was packed to the specifications.
All my senses heightened and a dumb grin took control of my face. After a some guidance and equipment fitting we hopped in the runway transport and headed out to the strip. Upon arrival I began to examine the plane as if I knew what I was looking for. Now, it was boarding time. Once loaded the pilot took off.
Gaining altitude the view got better and better. I had never ridden in a plane this open to the elements before. This was an experience in and of itself. The view was different than I’d ever seen. It almost looked like an aerial photo from above. After climbing for quite a while, I began hearing the pilot and instructor discussing whether or not we were there yet.
13,000 ft. or 2 1/2 miles up, it was go time!
With no hesitation I began the exit process I’d learned on the ground an hour or so prior. Stepping out onto the platform below the wing was much different than I expected…actually, I’m not quite sure what I expected, but it wasn’t this. Everything seemed calm and peaceful. The wind didn’t blow nearly as hard as I thought, no nerves and the landscape below looked surreal. Facing the back of the plane, I took one small step and the rush consumed my body. I arched my back hard as instructed and we pulled an amazing back flip, which left me a little disoriented in the sense that for a moment I couldn’t tell what was up or down.
Logically, blue was up and brown was down but everything was happening so fast it wasn’t until we leveled out that I got my bearings. Racing through the air at 130 m.p.h. gave me the adrenaline rush I’d hoped for. If you haven’t done it, the sensation is hard to explain. Although it is definitely a high, it was also oddly calming. We went into a couple of flat spins, which added to the excitement. The spin was so fast the landscape below all blurred together. After about a 45 second free fall it was time to deploy the chute. A quick pull on the rip cord and hard yank on the harness we began floating to the ground. Some may think this is the boring part of the ride, but it was equally exciting. I got to drive, so pulling on the brake lines as instructed we went into several different maneuvers. This was the first time I experienced the “roller coaster” sensation. On the ground it doesn’t seem like the spin is very fast, but it whips around and around at a pretty good clip. Leveling off once again we lined up for the landing. Turning away and then back hard toward the target we came in fast. At the last minute a hard pull on the brakes provided loft at the right time and we touched down safely and gently on our feet.
As soon as my feet hit the ground I immediately said, “let’s go again!”
Now, I’m sure I’m not doing this sport justice with my description. As stated earlier it is indescribable, but all and all it was everything I hoped for and more. We exited the landing area and headed back inside. We dropped of the chute and removed the harness.
That was it. My first, but definitely not my last! It was the perfect way to breakup the summer, while anxiously awaiting winter. I left with my senses maxed out and that dumb ear to ear grin came with me too!