I grew up with National Geographic in my hands and all kinds of crazy ideas in my head. Where I would travel, what the beautiful locations would look like and how it would feel to be a world traveler. With the imagination of a child I was always able to see a photo and picture myself in the midst of the landscape, feeling the temperature, breathing the air and experiencing my surroundings. It only drove my desire to travel that much deeper.
My family was big into travel but all of which was done state side and with a limited budget and a huge family the trips weren’t always what I expected or enjoyed.
After becoming a BASE jumper I knew that my travel days had just begun and in 2006 I made my very first international trip. From northern California to Germany then on to Norway. I flew with a few close jumper friends with the plan, to make as many BASE jumps as possible in the beautiful fjords of Norway. A very popular place to jump at the time.
With no international travel under my belt I relied heavily on the assistance of those I flew with to help me along the way. I wasn’t use to international airports or commercial airports for that matter. All my travels previously consisted of road trips so the entire process was completely new to me. As nervous as I was to be embarking on such a strange and new type of journey I was excited, beyond excited.
On the 13 hr flight from SFO to Frankfurt I found little ability to sleep as my stomach was constantly in knots with thoughts of traveling in another country, not speaking the language, having no idea what I was doing and thoughts of what was to come once I arrived… Lots of BASE jumps. After finally arriving to Stavanger we had to take a 4 hr slow ferry to the small and remote fjord that we would be staying for the next 10 days.The weather was just as expected, warm during the day with high humidity and always a chance of fog and rain showers with cold wind.
I set up my tent that I would be staying in for the foreseeable future and became fast friends with the other jumpers in the valley. Although I knew a lot of the people there and I had been a jumper for some time I was still incredibly nervous about the jumps there. They were unlike anything I had experienced before. Huge cliffs that shot straight out of the fjords and towered 3,000 feet above us on both sides of the valley. On the over cast days the clouds swallowed the tops of the cliffs leaving them seemingly much taller and the valley much smaller.
With nothing left to do my friends and I started the trek for our first jump of the trip. The most nervous I had been sense my first jump ever was on the hike to this exit point. After a very interesting and windy bus ride we reached the start of the hike, although much of the vertical distance was made by the bus ride we still had a long way to go. We reached the top of the first hill and saw what the majority of the hike was, gaining and losing 1,000 feet of elevation over 3 hilltops which made for an interesting and strenuous experience. We drank from the fresh water streams that were all over the place and after what seemed like several hours but was more like 1hr we reached the exit point with the 15 or so other jumpers who were part of our group. I remember being freezing cold in the august air, with no sun to warm me up I was concerned about my ability to pull when the time came. I was even more jittery about the jump that was about to take place, but being one of only 2 women who were at the exit point I sucked it up and did my best not to show my nerves, trying to be one of the boys.
After gearing up and talking with the other guys who traveled with me we decided to make our fist jump a good one and all go off together making it a big way! Sometimes it’s easier to do a big way jump because everyone goes off at once, getting off the cliff is easier mentally. Someone else gives the count and as soon as the group starts moving towards the edge I do too which makes me not think about it as much. As soon as our feet leave the cliff we separate quickly from gravity and the way that we fall and track. The group dive was a success with all of us having an amazing time and with that came a renewed confidence in myself and a readiness to keep the jumps going full forced.
The nerves never go away, it is a sign that I am still human, I am nervous/excited about each jump but never scared, if I have a sense of fear I do my best to understand where the fear is coming from so I never jump scared.
Through the following days I did many jumps and even celebrated my 1 year BASE anniversary in the beautiful valley. Surrounded by friends and fellow jumpers was the best way to celebrate. It was one of the most epic trips I had ever taken at the time and was one that would be engrained in my memory for the rest of my life, along with the people who were on it with me. Including professional skier Jt Holmes, Shermdawg, Kyle O’Neil and my boyfriend at the time Jimmy H. All of which were amazing supports and some of the most fun people to travel/jump with.
With many more international and domestic trips under my belt I am now a comfortable world traveler and constantly crave the next adventure from the all to well known US airports all the way to the musty and dirty landing strips of some of my destinations.
Traveling and having the support of my friends made the seemingly unknown and scary turn into the manageable and fun. It really opened my eyes to the fact that many of us fear what we don’t know, it is a natural response to the unknown. Unfortunately many judge based on their fear rather than explore their fear as an opportunity to open eyes or doors to new possibilities. With this realization I have been able to see when I experience fear and uncertainty. Instead of judge against it I explore it and research it. Most of the time after adequate research I realize that the fear has dissipated and has been replaced with interest and fascination. If I can inspire just one person to become educated on their fear and that fear changes from an unknown to being educated and intrigued I will be satisfied.