I took a nervous step forward, adrenaline coursing through my body, moving closer towards the edge of the bridge. Taking a deep breath, I stepped out into nothingness and jumped.
Bungee jumping was always something I wanted to try and it had been on my bucket list for a while. I was leaving for grad school in a couple of months and feeling like there was no time but the present, a friend and I signed up for a jump with a local bungee jumping company. There were a couple of different options, we could choose to either jump off a tree, bridge, or rock. Not feeling quite daring enough to jump off a rock or a tree, we went for the 100 foot bridge option, which costs $99. If you’re thinking about bungee jumping or want to learn more about it, including how I accidentally broke the law while bungee jumping in northern California, here’s what you can expect:
Before the Jump
On the day of the jump,we met up with the instructor and the other jumpers for safety information before heading to the jump site. Ours happened to be at a party room in a random Round Table, where we watched a safety video and the guide answered all of our questions to assuage any fears or concerns. After signing waivers, we caravanned for roughly an hour towards the mountains. We made the mistake of not having a full tank and on the return trip, there was a scary 30 minute stretch where we were driving with only 1% of a tank left. As “Cabin in the Woods” scenarios rapidly flitted through my mind, I started considering alternative options like hitchhiking. Thankfully, an old school gas station appeared, and when we talked to the employee about our struggle, she said we were lucky to have gotten there early enough. 15 minutes later, and the gas station would’ve closed at 7 p.m. Before this experience, I had no idea that gas stations even closed that early.
This is the first time I’ve seen a gas station that did not have a digital readout!
During the Jump
We may or may not have “trespassed” to find this bridge. As we started hiking up the mountain to head towards the bridge, our guide said “If anyone from the Fish and Game Commission appears, let me handle it.” I laughed but on the inside I was just thinking “What the…” I was already nervous about the jump and being told that technically it was not legal only made me more apprehensive. Having come so far though, I told myself to suck it up and soon we were jumping over yellow “No Trespassing” signs.
After a ten minute stretch, we made it to the bridge and began gearing up for the jump. Once we had our gear on, we waited for our turn to climb up towards the bridge. Once I was on the bridge, the guide made sure I was properly strapped in and acquiesced to my request to double-check the harness and the rope (I was feeling pretty paranoid at this point).
Super excited and nervous before jumping.
As for the actual jump itself…well, this video illustrates the jump better than anything I could write.
I wasn’t the most coordinated person while falling and it really was one of the scariest things I’ve done. Having said that, I would 100% recommend the experience to anyone who’s on the fence about whether or not they should do it. Falling so far and so quickly, straight towards the ground, is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced and the entire experience gave me a huge adrenaline rush afterwards. It’s something that I’ll never forget.
We bought pictures from the agency and although they weren’t the best quality, I’m really glad that I did because they were able to get shots that would’ve otherwise been difficult to capture. I also feel really lucky that I got to share this experience with one of my good friends.
When people are looking for an adventurous experience, some of the more common choices are skydiving or bungee jumping. Having done both, I actually found this experience more terrifying than skydiving for the following reasons:
- With skydiving, you (typically) have an experienced professional attached to you (unless you’re just THAT badass) and so it comes with a comfort of safety. If anything were to go wrong, there’s someone who knows what they’re doing. With bungee jumping, you’re doing it on your own. It’s on you to take that step and jump off the bridge.
- I was fine leading up to the experience but after watching the safety video (ironically), I got scared shitless. What if the line snapped? What if my harness was fitted incorrectly? Why does the drop look so damn HIGH? Yup. Anxious.
- Trespassing and lack of licenses did not exactly inspire confidence.
However, the agency is quick to tell you that they have never had any problems with safety and no one has ever gotten seriously injured while doing the jump. A good piece of advice is to try to keep your body as horizontal to the ground after jumping. This will prevent you from hitting the bungee cord. If you end up hitting the bungee cord, it’s nothing too serious but it will leave a red mark on you as a nice little battle scar.
This was a once in a lifetime experience. I think it’s something that I can do once and not need to do again for a while, but I’m so glad I did it. You know how they say do one thing a day that scares you? I feel like after this experience, I’m good for a while. I’m glad I did it because:
- Taking that step off the bridge and putting my faith completely in someone else’s abilities pushed my personal boundaries.
- It was something that I promised myself I would do and I wanted to be held accountable.
- Nothing like potentially feeling like you’re going to die to make you feel more alive.
- It’s freaking bungee jumping!
“One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.” — William Feather
What’s something that you were scared to do but still pursued anyways?
*The bungee jumping company’s name is not included in this post because they asked not to be named due to the surreptitious and technically illegal location of the jump*