And the extreme-ness of canyon jumping
22.10.2008 - 22.10.2008 10 °C
Right now I'm trying to comprehend the enormous difference between today and yesterday, which is making it very hard to start this entry. It's a little after 9 I'm back in the hostel dorm, and probably will stay in for the night (not a whole lot of nightlife in Interlaken.) My brain is fried, but I'm trying my best here, haha:
Yesterday was our first full day in Interlaken, so we decided to go to a nearby town called Lauterbrunnen, which is a few hundred meters above us (altitude-wise) in the Alps, and famous for having the highest waterfall in Switzerland. The scenery was gorgeous, even on the train ride up-we had a perfect view of Jungfrau, the highest mountain in the region, right in front of us, and mountains coming up on all sides around us (can you say avalanche insurance?) We were also surrounded by streams coming from the waterfalls and most likely heading toward either of the lakes. Sidenote: The water here is so ridiculously blue it looks fake. All of it- the two lakes, the river, the streams- how do they do that? Anyway, it was sunny and shockingly warm, so we ended up walking around there for a long time. First we climbed up to the waterfall area- it was free and not busy, since we are in the awkward no winter-sports and no summer-sports season. We climbed up these jagged crumbly rocks and into a tunnel that went under the waterfall, which was impressive considering how slippery is was. The views were pretty incredible. Later on, we found ourselves walking past the green pastures and cows and sheep (and baby goats!!) being hopelessly pulled forward by the allure of the Swiss Alps towering before us. Our stomachs broke our trance and we headed back into town for some over-priced fondue... mmm. Something about the Swiss, they are waayy too rich. If you want an affordable dinner, you make it, end of story. So we got some groceries at the Co-Op and made our dinner at the hostel. That night we met a new roommate, Calvin, who was on leave from his tour in Iraq. He ended up being a really cool guy.
I woke up the next day and it was sunny and clear. I had my eye on some extreme craziness-brochures since we got here (I don't want to say extreme sports because I don't think falling is a sport, even if it's from high altitudes) and decided, when in Switzerland, jump off high things. I signed up for bungee jumping, and spent the rest of the morning worrying about it- I've never done anything like that before. Me and Ruaridh decided to go for a walk up to one of the lakes, and the walk was great but we never made it to the full opening of the lake, ha. We turned around, and as we were having lunch, a thick blanket of fog crashed down on Interlaken- the only way to put it because it was so sudden- and the wind picked up, the rain started, etc etc. I was pretty unhappy. For my first time bungee-jumping, I didn't want to plunge into a white impenetrable oblivion. We made our way across the park to the hostel, and I asked if they were canceling the trip at the reception desk. Of course they weren't- and Calvin found this very entertaining, so he decided to come along for the ride- even paid the smirky Australian driver 10 francs to come along. The ride up was an adrenaline rush in itself- our driver blasted some decent fast-paced music and passed cars on blind corners in that "I'm too extreme and Australian to care" sort of way. In the shuttle bus was me, Ruaridh, Calvin, and some scared-looking Asian boy. After picking up a brazilian family on the way, we get to Grindelwald, where our driver asks us if we are bungee jumping or canyon jumping. We all say bungee jumping, at which point he says "no- i think you'll be canyon jumping today." and drives onward. No. No way. Canyon jumping, as described in the brochure, is being attached to a rope hanging at a midpoint a few hundred feet in front and below you, jumping off a cliff, freefalling, then being swung through a narrow canyon when the rope catches. Before I decide it would be safer to flee from the moving van, we crawl to a stop in a clearing in the woods. As a last resort, I fall back to plea with the driver. If he followed suite and shrugged me off, I probably would've refused, but he was actually really nice about it- said I could go up and look around, and if I wasn't comfortable I didn't have to do anything and could get a full refund. At least up here we were above all the fog and rain. So, within twenty minutes I was harnessed up and ready to pass through the gate and onto the platform that I would jump from. The swiss guy who helped secure me to the rope gave me a huge grin and asked if I was ready. Calvin leaped toward the platform, camera in hand, saying "have fun! hahaha!" The Swiss guy let go of the heavy rope, which dragged me toward the edge of the platform. I could see the canyon ahead of me, but couldn't see anything below me. So I jumped! And as soon as my feet left the platform, I completely forgot I was attached to something, only thinking holy crap, I am falling. My heart never raced faster in my entire life. When the rope finally caught, swinging through the canyon was incredible. I was so full of adrenaline that all I could do was lie, limbs sprawled in midair, and look around. I was shaking so badly I could barely move to catch the rope that was pulled clothesline-style so I could pull myself toward the ladder on the side of the canyon. Some of the local alpiners were watching from a walkway, laughing and thumbs-upping me. They were pretty nice, and managed to poke fun at me without a word of english! ha. Two others went after me, and my heart still raced for them. Even though I did it, its scary to see someone fall like that, especially from the bottom. I was still on an adrenaline high when we got back to the hostel, and me and Ruaridh made fondue with white chocolate and bailey's.... mmmm. I tried writing this blog, but my brain was just way to fried. Now I'm actually recalling from a few weeks later! Haha. Anyway, a good day. Me, Ruaridh and Calvin went slopping around the rain that night to get some pizza at the only semi-affordable place in town. Then I went to bed.