Monday, September 24, 2007

Birthday Paragliding

Long story.

It goes all the way back to early September when C and I had a big fat party at our condo to celebrate us turning "old" (30). We'd actually decided way back in March to do some paragliding when we got home to Issaquah because we didn't have enough time to do it in Queenstown, NZ. So, we decided we'd go for our birthdays, but specifically, on her birthday. So I made the arrangements.

The instructions were to show up at the landing zone a few minutes before the shuttle left for the top of the hill. So we did. We each had a pilot and they were nice guys. The ride up the hill was shocking. We rode in a nice enough van to a house a few miles up the road. Then everyone got out and hiked a few hundred yards through the woods. Then we piled into a bigger truck with an open bed that where we were to stand, and were surrounded by a frame of well-padded bars. The rest of the road was not maintained at all. It took a few impacts with the frame before I realized why they padded it. We quickly learned to surf with the truck like the pros. As we finally made it to the top of the hill the rain started. Everyone ran under the trees and a few minutes later it let up for a few minutes. The next thing I knew I was flying through the air! It was almost that fast actually. As fast as I could keep up, my instructor strapped me in and shared the bare minimum of information that I would need to get us off the ground. I swear he said we were going to practice before we actually jumped, but my only practice round turned into the real thing. He said "run" and I did. The ride was super sweet. He took me on one really tight turn that had me plastered to my seat. We sank like a fat rock and before I knew it we were landing. The landing was smooth, we came in fast along the ground and all I did was keep up with it. Then I looked up and waited for C to fly through the air behind me. But a half hour later I over heard that her pilot didn't like the conditions and was giving up for the day. The birthday girl wasn't happy. After another false start 5 days later, she finally ran off the mountain on a bright sunny day and had a great flight with a spectacular landing. The final flare didn't quite work and they came down more than across the field. C tried to run but the instructor didn't.

I sat on the landing zone and shot pictures of the whole thing.

A few minutes before she came down some beginner overshot the huge field and landed in blackberry bushes. Sorry I didn't get pictures of that. I did get some other interesting shots. One of a crazy dude practically collapsing his wing high above the ground and still recovering. The wing is all out of shape and the lines are mostly slack. I think he's even higher than the wing when I shot him. There was also some guy on the ground trying to throw a big bag of trash at his buddy as he was trying to land. Total weirdos.

1 comment:

Jen G said...

I can't believe you guys went paragliding. That's so awesome.