Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fallin' 2: Electric Boogaloo

One year ago today, I fell 30 feet to my death but didn't die. If you're unfamiliar with the details of The Great Plummet, go back and read about it in my inaugural blog post. It's okay, I'll wait.

All caught up now? Wonderful.

Earlier this week, I returned to the scene of the climb, and against Denise's wishes I went alone.1 I planned to take photographs and more precise measurements of the spot. Yet, as I peered down into the gorge from the once-mossy precipice, I was struck by an overwhelming sense of vertigo. No, wait—not vertigo. What's the word... joy. I was overcome with an immense feeling of joy. As I pictured my rapid descent and miraculous survival in my mind's eye,2 I openly wept.

Then, I began the document process. As I've already hinted, the mossy precipice was no longer mossy. It was, however, even more precipitous than I remembered it being. Honestly, what was I thinking getting so close to the edge?3 Likewise, my escape route was much, much steeper than I recalled, and I have no idea how I made it out of the gorge without slipping back in once or twice.

I pulled out a ball of twine, and lowered a small weight into the gorge until it hit water. By measuring the string, I learned that I'd only plummeted 26 ft 8 in (not 30 ft, as previously estimated). Thus, I had only been in freefall for 1.3 seconds (not 1.4 s), and hit the water going 28 mph (not 30 mph). I also noticed that the gap I fell through is about 5 ft wide (not 3 ft). Clearly, these findings knock my survival down a notch in terms of miraculousness. But I'm not complaining.

Computer issues prevent me from sharing most of my photos until I return home from my vacation, but I'll leave you with one. Unlike last year, when my camera and lenses succumbed to a watery death before I reached the base of Bingham Falls, this year I was able to take some shots of the main attraction. I managed a few pics at varying shutter speeds before dozens of high schoolers in bathing suits descended upon the falls. This was only the first wave (click to embiggen):

A far, far better place to plummet than where I did.

Perched on a rocky ledge by the falls, I put my camera back in its bag and then, within seconds, I no longer had solid ground beneath my feet.

The water was cold, crisp, and invigorating. Submerged in that cold mountain stream, I felt an exhilaration I'd only experienced once before. This time, however, my camera was safely tucked away back on the ledge, and I had jumped, not fallen.

I was exactly where I wanted to be.

1 After all, she's not the boss of me. Not for another couple weeks.
2 My mind doesn't actually have an eye. It's an expression, people.
3 For the record, I believe it was: "Ooooh, waterfall. Preeeetty."

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