What better way to remember a birthday than by jumping off a mountain. That was how I celebrated my 32nd birthday.
It could have been my last.
I said that to the guy…
I survived – clearly.
Paragliding is a must. I am now converted the wonders of the jump.
I’ve just got back from a two-week camping holiday in France. It was amazing. Lac d’Annecy is a stunning location for a holiday for all tastes. Relaxing if you like. Sporty if you want. Adventurous if you dare.
Our paragliding experience was well organised. A team of instructors picked us up (me, Bas and A.N.Other). We headed up a windy and very steep
death trap mountain road. The madman driver clearly hadn’t taken his tablets knew the route and we whizzed around bends on two wheels. Oh the joy. We reached the summit and grabbed the gear from the back of the minibus.
What was the gear being strapped to my back. I asked no questions.
I didn’t really want to know.
We walked a couple of metres up a pathway and then on to a steep slope of astro-turf (fake grass) which led over the edge to nothingness….. Long grass could be seen poking up, but beyond that…nothing. The lake, hundreds of metres below, was shimmering in the mid-day sun. Stunning. Terrifying, but stunning.
My instructor lay the wing (or canopy) out across the grass, while I looked at at the view and contemplated the drop.
There were loads of ropes called lines (yes, I’ve read up on it now that I’ve done it and survived). He untangled the whole lot and prepared it, then attached his harness to mine. Once secured he said “Right, now we just run”.
That’s the extend of my pre-flight briefing?….”Now we just run!????” (I thought this part – I didn’t want to sound panicky).
We ran…Off the edge of the mountain.
I was expecting a sudden drop. It never came. Unbelievably, we glided off the mountain and into the air. It was the most gentle take-off I’ve ever experienced. The view was amazing! I was silent. In total awe of the view. The lake below looked incredible.
The instructor was busy controlling the wing (fiddling with the lines). I just grinned and enjoyed the view. I looked across and watched Bas and his instructor floating ahead of us. I didn’t hear any screams. All was good. For thirty minutes we floated down above the lake, the trees and roads below.
There had been no wind at the top of the mountain. It was eerily still. Once we were a few hundred metres from landing we hit a rush of wind. With a jolt we were carried higher and higher. It made landing quite a challenge. Our landing field was too far to reach and the wind was too strong. Plan B – land closer. We ended up in a field nearby.
The landing was smoothe. Until a gust of wind caught the wing and whipped us backwards across the field. What a sight. The instructor was laying on his back trying to regain control and there was me, on top of him, wondering when we’d stop. I couldn’t help but giggle some more.
I survived. I loved it!
Enjoy my slideshow…
Want to read more? Some links you may enjoy.
- Stuff about paragliding.
- My rather less successful ‘outdoors’ adventure in France: kayaking.
- Travel Essentials: Good tips.
- Lake d’Annecy: A fantastic place to visit.