20 Second Therapy Session
I lifted my left leg and swung it over the roughly 4 foot high railing that seperates the spectators from those with a death wish, or those with a wish to live life to the fullest. It was an odd feeling as my dangling leg stretched to find purchase on the wood platform that had been inserted just a few minutes ago. I lowered myself down to the platform, now assuming a truly unique and somewhat freaky view off the harrowing edge of 486 foot high Perrine Bridge in Twin Fall, Idaho.
Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls, Idaho
With the railing at my back, I was one step to free-fall and the river. To prolong my 20 second therapy session, I requested an additional photo. Not just a regular snapshot of Dave doing his first base jump but I wanted something a bit out of the ordinary (as if leaping off a bridge is ordinary).
No Longer a spectator
Ok, so while I was attached to my trusted friend, a 1 inch piece of webbing that secured my harness to the bridge, I inched toward the end of the jumping platform. Man, what a sick view!
Despite the nerves, it was a unique spot to be as I leaned forward and snapped some history with my Canon Rebel and handed the camera back to Summer Eldridge, a bungee jumping friend, who had come out to watch me test gravity off of another really high stucture.
On the Edge once again
In his book, Extreme Fear, Jeff Wise shares that while most of us try to avoid stress in the course of our daily lives, it's the stressful, emotionally intense memories that will live with us the longest.
This bonus bucket of stress was compliments of Tandem Base, the only company in the world that offers tandem base jumps. They had just opened up this heart in your throat opportunity just a handful of months before I would be traveling through the area. I have had some special moments attached to a bungee cord at the Perrine. I have swan dived off the bridge a couple of times, been thrown off (pall bearer toss) and now a new chapter in my life, a base jump. I had wanted to join the base jump crowd for many years. True story, but the script had no plot, no storyline and no hope of reality until tandem base jumping arrived in Idaho. Base jumping has a gravity cousin called Sky Diving. In Base, instead of exiting a perfectly good airplane (or at least one that flies) you are bounding off of a bridge, antenna, span or earth. No time to flail for a back up parachute, so get it right the first time.
Topsy Turvy feeling
Speeches were rather short while on the platform. A quick clip to the amazingly tall, Mark Kissner, and an unclipping from the webbing that was temporarily connecting me to the railing while I climbed over and took the "I was there" photos off the end of the platform. After we sauntered to the edge, I was told to let gravity do its thing and gradually lean forward. hmmm. Guess I'll check that theory out.
Theory worked, and we dropped with staggering speed. The parachute was quickly deployed and a quick veering to the right and then the left, with the side of the canyon looming to our side brought us into the landing zone. Therapy Session success.
There are 3 common routes for exiting the canyon. The climbing option in which you ascend straight up the canyon wall, the hiking option, in which you follow the river to a turn around point in the road, or the boating option which will drop you off at the park.
Ribbons for those who had leaped off the Perrine without a parachute or bungee cord
The 50 foot climbing section is not terribly hard but can be a little intimidating for someone who doesn't climb much. A short note from a base jumping page encourages those on the climbing route to be careful because there are spots on this rock where falling could certainly mean serious injury or death. Point taken.
I spent a lot of quality time on the bridge taking pictures of the beauty that encompasses the canyon, the Snake River far below and the desert that engulfs the area. It was an incredible sight to absorb but the real experience and the memories that will always be cherished were the more stressful, emotionally intense moments of hoisting myself up and over the railing, making my way to the edge of the platform, a lean and a flight.
Climbing option out of the canyon
View looking toward the west side of the canyon
My leap on Youtube:
One of the views from the Perrine Bridge