Leaning over the edge, peering down into what looked like infinite darkness, I prepared myself with one last deep breath and with tremendous force my feet left the 2inches of steel that separated my body from my unknown. As my feet left I fell silently into darkness, hearing the crackles of the electricity sparking behind me the noise grew louder and louder and with a shot gun blast my body was cracked to a halt and the dead silence returned as I flew to the ground under a parachute for the very first time.
At the ripe old age of 16 I guess you could say that I presented myself with an opportunity of a lifetime. After years of research, countless hours of daydreaming and a drive within me I couldn’t even explain at that age, I found myself preparing for my very first BASE jump in the Northern California area. Standing on top of the 480ft electrical tower I was about to leap from for the very first time, I had to take a second to remember all the effort, tears and pain it took to get to that very spot. From a very young age I was inspired and enthralled with BASE jumping and everything that accompanies it. When I was 8 years old I saw a BASE video in my local ski resort and new that I had to experience that. From the age of 8 until 16 when I made my first jump I spent the majority of my time researching, reading about and watching videos of BASE jumping. When I wasn’t doing those things I was talking to anyone who would listen to me about my dreams of becoming a jumper. Most of which completely blew me off. I spoke with many jumpers about being mentored and the process to become a jumper. Many ignored my advances or told me straight up that I was too young and it would never happen for me. They nay-sayers and negative people only fueled my desire to accomplish my dreams and although some of them brought me to tears, not in front of them, with their harsh words and dismissing attitudes I continued to push forward full force.
Even with my driving attitude there were times of massive doubt and feelings of being distraught, broken down and seemingly hopeless. Many of my emotions were miss expressed as anger and increasing frustration. I quickly became a very guarded person, always assuming the worst when speaking with people and very self conscious because of all the people who told me my dreams were pipedreams and would never come to fruition. My viewpoint changed from a wide eyed girl who had the world in her hands to a jaded person who seemingly loathed the human race. I would say “I just hate people” yet I never stopped communicating with them to try to wiggle my way to the heart of my dream. In the wake of not knowing if I was ever going to reach my goal I was gifted an extreme sports video that was packed with clips of BASE jumping and skydiving. It renewed my energy almost immediately and I was able to adopt a better attitude towards what I wanted. Realizing that I will never have everyone’s approval or help, I might not even have 50% of the peoples support but that to me was obsolete because I knew BASE was in my blood and in my future. Around the same time I ran into a skier in my home town who had a stash bag holding his gear from a jump he had just made, surprisingly right behind my house, on the street. We chatted briefly about the sport and he told me to look up a specific person to ask about a BASE course. The feeling I had that moment is not one I will ever forget. I was so excited, elated to be exact and had this overwhelming sense of “oh my gosh, my dream is within reach”…. But I only had a name!
Feeding off the energy of thinking it was right around the corner I raced home to try and research said person. Unfortunately for me living in an incredibly small mountain town our dial up internet was something less than reliable and I was unable to make any form of connection. Because of my newly adopted attitude I refused to be anything but positive and in an effort to stick to my guns. I put in my extreme sports video once again to kill some time and day dream about me jumping off all of those objects. This time however was different, I looked at the entire case for the DVD for the first time and to my surprise the creator of the video had his email address printed very clearly on the back… and to my utter shock it was the same exact person the skier had told me to search out!!
The details of the next few weeks are so long and drawn out but before I knew it a date had been set and I was on my way to make my first jump with my boyfriend, a well renowned climber and guide expert. My introduction to my “mentor” was very brief and my instruction for my first jump was even shorter. Before I knew it I was told I was prepared and was loaded up into a big van with about 6 other people. The trip was a blur but the experience was blissful. After scaling barbwire fences, maneuvering around sleeping cows and making it over the “Do Not Enter” Gate that blocked the start to the climb I was well on my way. The entire climb up the antenna was progressively more exciting with each step I took and each rung I grabbed. On top of the tower I had so many thoughts about the process that were suppressed by the intense loud wind that was howling by us and the electrical static and crackling that was happening just below our feet. I was geared up with the assistance of my “mentor” and was told that I was the one who wanted to do this and there for I would have to be the first to jump. Reluctantly and nervously I agreed and I climbed under the rail and positioned myself of a 2inch piece of steel that ultimately and temporarily separated me from the black hole abyss that was just below. After 5 minutes of hesitation I took a deep breath, counted down and my feet left the antenna, the sound was incredibly quiet but got loud very quick as I fell, I threw the pilot chute which opened my parachute with a crack like a shot gun blast and it was quiet once again. Floating through darkness until I reached the ground and landed. I yelled back to the exit point “I have to do that again”. Right then and there I knew this wasn’t a once off type of thing but a life long activity for me to participate in! I knew that I had found one of my many callings and that jump was now a permanent fixture in my DNA pulsing through my veins. And so I have made it just that, a part of who I am and what I do.
The entire experience leading me up to my first jump was one of the biggest growth spurts I have had, no I am not talking about physically. I still stand at a tiny 5’4″, but instead a growth in personality, mental ability and growth in my soul finally feeling like I had found my place. I realized that what is worth doing is worth fighting for and there will always be people who not only don’t support the goals and dreams but people who will do anything in their power to not allow me … or you to experience it. I learned to harness that feeling of negativity and process it to be a positive in my life, a driving force that just adds horsepower to my desire to attain or accomplish my dreams. Through the tears and hardships I learned that if I truly want something and I want it for a pure reason… for myself then I will stop at nothing to get it. Through the process I learned that the people who don’t support and don’t encourage are not the kind of people I want to associate myself with because one bad seed can ruin the bunch. From that day on I knew that I had the power to shape my sport to be what I needed it to be for me and I am the only one who was responsible for chasing my dream and making it into my reality.