“You know why you like to travel? Everywhere you go, nothing belongs to you. When you’re home, you’re weighed down by your possessions.”
–A Thai Monk
The stage is set in Angeles national forest in Southern California outside the city of Los Angeles. The San Gabriel canyon in this public land has no cell phone signal, but a beautiful canyon and an abandoned road which was built around 1930s. The pretty San Gabriel river runs through the canyon or rather carved this canyon. During any other season the landscape would have been awesome with new flowers and fresh green in the summer, and multitudes of colors in autumn, but winter the land was mostly barren and a bit lifeless, but the canyon and majestic rocky cliffs were still mighty and what should I say, they were worth looking at.
The hike was around 5 miles one way, it is a moderate-strenuous hike. The hike consists only around 500feet of elevation gain, but it is a bit strenuous because you have to cross the river around 6-7times. The river as usual is cold but it is not as bad as the creek crossing I did in Tetons. The river though runs up to your waist in few crossings is not that mean. Although a dog of a fellow hiker was struggling upstream, Stupid dog! I was on this hike to reach the “Bridge to nowhere” where there I was going to jump from a bridge, don’t be alarmed, I’ll be tied to a bungee.
The hike, the river crossing were all so pretty, but the low point was of my knee, the left knee gave up on me. After three quarters to the bridge, the knee gave up and I was almost limping.
With the limp, I reached the bridge and I had to gulp an Ibuprofen, a permanent item in my backpack on any hike. The bridge was really pretty as it joined the slopes over the steep canyon. The Bungee organizers were getting their system ready. Meanwhile my pain subsidized a bit, and I was in midway between numbness and pain. Both sucks!
It was time for me to jump to the rocky river from the 80 year old bridge on a bungee which could haul some 100 trucks I guess. The factor of safety was quite high even for safety standards and no doubt for my remaining amount of bony mass in my body. The FOS, as we used to call in ‘Design’ classes is too big that, I consider crossing a road million times riskier than Bungee jumping. But, I guess pregnant women can cross the road and not jump with a bungee cord. I wonder what FOS does tuckering have on a 12 feet ladder.
When my time had come to put on the harness and stand on the launch pad and hook up the carabineer with the Bungee, for the first time I got a glimpse of where I was jumping to, Until then, I was sitting next to the rail, eating Granola bars and refilling water onto my Camelbak. The view was pretty crazy, Right underneath me there was almost nothing. I took few breaths and the onlookers did a countdown, then at that moment I left my mind for a road-trip to Kansas, and I just jumped like a frog. Here I GO or rather WENT…!
After the close encounter with the rock some so and so feet, There I bounced defying gravity back to the bridge, I was so close to the concrete bottom of the bridge that I gasped and my heart was in my mouth. And then here I go again, back to abyss. In the middle of pain, numbness, Ibuprofen, and persistent tiredness, I was also getting dosages of adrenaline and fear of flight, and lets say height and sometimes lack of it. After that initial awesomeness, I was swinging back and forth the arched bridge, waiting for a hauling line to haul me back.
In retrospect, I think my body might have been all confused, though the adrenaline pumping was not that huge, for the few seconds, it was pretty darn good. My hands were not even shaking unlike the other jumpers, the guide said, I could become a surgeon. Hmmm, may be I should start watching House and Grey’s anatomy, I know a close friend who became a doctor watching those two shows. I won’t mention who that is, but my clue is that he is not on Facebook.
I don’t know whether it was lack of sustained supply of thrill or the Ibuprofen, anyways, the lack of continuous adrenaline left me hungry for sure. May be it is snowboarding which is to be blamed, after that extreme sport, I might be feeling everything else bland. Trust me, there are no limits to what all you can break/injure in your body being on that board.
Once, I got back on solid ground, I walked here and there, switched to swim shorts as I didn’t want my undies to go wet again .
The return journey was so painful that I had to take one more Ibuprofen halfway through the hike. I would have taken twice as long to reach the trailhead on my way back. I had not minded taking breaks because it wasn’t cold, there was lot of sunlight still left and the canyon and surroundings were there for company.
May be I will come back and hike the trail once more. And Bungee jumping, may be not, as it is weighed up by stuff. whatever, but rather because, gifts are to be relished only once..!