The Gorge Swing

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Every time I thought about the Gorge Swing I felt faint. I kept thinking, “why in the world would I ever sign up for something like this?” The Gorge Swing is labelled as “bungee’s big brother”. It is a 70m free fall followed by a 110m swing across the gorge. It is considered 110% on the adrenaline scale. Good lord.
In the booking office, the video of the gorge swing conveniently only shows millisecond clips of the jump. The rest is just smiling faces and thumbs up from people who have just completed the jump; it looked so easy. Damn you advertising!
Either way, I had to do it. Everyone was doing it! Yes, I’m that easily peer pressured. Plus, by the time I arrived on site, they already had my money; might as well throw myself from a cliff.
It was only a couple hours after the rafting that we loaded back up in the truck and set out for the second part of our day. We arrived back at our briefing base for safety instructions. I didn’t hear a thing. I just kept staring down at the gorge in appalled horror. Was I really going to jump into that?
Finally it was time to strap ourselves into the safety equipment and walk the couple minutes to the swing. I desperately wanted to go first. Just get it over with and be done with it. But there was only enough equipment for a few people, and Kelsi wasn’t strapped in yet. We’d have to wait until other people went, then use their straps. Kelsi and I were going tandem. It was my compromise for signing up. If I’m dying, we’re doing it together.
Kelsi was pumped. I detected no fear in her voice as she calmly talked me through our jumping technique. Then we walked up to the jumping point, and I think it hit her. We were about to JUMP OFF THAT!
Surprisingly, I calmed down a little when we arrived. It looked like just one big swing. Like we would just let go, and gracefully swing to the other side of the gorge and back. No big deal.
The first couple stepped up to the platform. They shuffled to the edge, smiling and a little nervous, then the operator started the countdown.
“5…4…3…2…1”
They stepped off.
There was a bloodcurdling scream that was cut short. They fell straight down and disappeared into the bottom of the gorge. SCREW THAT!
My stomach dropped, my knees went weak. I’m sure I went ghostly white in fear. There was no graceful arc, there was no calm dismount from the platform. There was just fear. Raw fear.
Kelsi noticed it too. So did the rest of the people waiting to go. We were all either silent, or nervously laughing. Nick was standing alone by the railing with no expression on his face. This was his fear, and he was about to face it, no matter what. Sandy was stoked: just walking around like nothing had happened, taking photos for people as needed. I was just trying to stand on two feet without falling over.
Up next were Robbo and Emily. When they stepped over the edge, I was the one that screamed in horror from the safety of land. It just didn’t get better. How is it possible to drop so fast?!
Just like the first couple, Robbo and Emily came up smiling. I knew I was going to love the swing. I knew as soon as the jump was over I was going to say how amazing it was. I only had to get past the small problem of stepping off that ledge first.
Kelsi got strapped in.
We were up next.
I was in a dizzy state of mind. I kept taking deep breaths to calm myself. Kelsi was equally as nervous as we stepped over the safety rope and started walking down the platform.
“Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god” I kept repeating as we shuffled our way along the plank. “I can’t look down. DON’T look down”
“Omg, I’m definitely not looking down” said Kelsi.
We had one arm wrapped around each other’s backs, holding on to the safety clip. I’m sure my free hand was shaking. I kept my head up and just looked at the clouds.
“Are you ready?” The guy at the end of the platform asked. My stomach sank. Oh god.
Then Kelsi looked down. “Shrek! I’m lookin’ down!!” We both nervously laughed.
“FIVE” the guy started.
I wasn’t ready. I take it back.
“FOUR”
All I could think of was. I better get out from the platform far enough that I don’t smash my head on the platform as I go by. How would I know when to step off if I wasn’t looking down?!
“THREE”
I’m going to throw up. Or faint. Or both.
The next thing I knew my stomach was in my throat and I was falling. I don’t even remember numbers two and one.
I felt winded, and I couldn’t breathe. There was screaming in my ears, I think it was both Kelsi and I screaming, but I was too disoriented to tell. We were falling on an angle, with Kelsi half on top of me. Apparently I just went for it right as the guy reached one and dragged Kels down with me.
I felt like I was falling forever. Just trying to catch my breath. Then all of a sudden the rope caught and we started swinging out into the gorge.
“Oooooooh myyyyyyy God!!!!!” I screamed. The fear was gone. We both started screaming and hooting in excitement!
I turned to Kelsi. “Oh my god I love you so much right now!” We hugged and screamed and shouted into the echoing gorge, slowly spinning as we flew. 110 meters we glided all the way across the gorge. Then back, over the river below.
My feet were tingly and numb. It was like a strange pins and needles and it lasted about five minutes after I was safely back on land. My hands were shaking with adrenaline. This was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I LOVED it!
We swung back and forth across the gorge until finally the safety rope was close enough to hold on to and we were dragged to the top. We pressed our feet out against the rock cliff and climbed our way up the last part. When we reached the top I was still shaking with excitement and had a huge grin on my face.
“Nick, you’re going to LOVE it!” We both said. He was still very unconvinced.
Nick and Sandy were up next. Even after I’d just finished the jump, I was equally as on edge as I watched the two of them walk down the platform. It was just as crazy watching them leap and disappear into the gorge. It never gets old.
In the end, they both loved it as well. We all went to the bar for a celebratory beer before heading home. It was the final day before Nick and Sandy left us to go home. But we’d had a pretty epic day so far! The gorge swing was definitely a success, and another thing to tick off the bucket lust.

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