Sunday, July 20, 2008
#22 Cliff Jumping
This one was a bit unexpected.
I'm a part of a Young Professionals group through a church. This past Saturday we planned a trip to Elora Gorge to go river tubing (which would have been another first). However, once arriving at the Gorge we found out the tubing was sold out. I was a bit disappointed, but thought that relaxing or hiking would be fine too.
Instead, our group headed over to the Quarry just outside of Elora. There is a beach there and a swimming hole in the middle of the old quarry with a hard rock slop in the centre. I imagine this is were trucks would have rumbled out with their loads. I was pretty content to sit on the beach and read a book, visit or eat Kristibeth's food (she's my roommate), but because of the heat, literally, everyone was going swimming and the water on my feet was so refreshing. So I decided it was time to join the rest. By the time I doggy paddled/butterflied/breast stroked/floated out to the centre, where some of our group was treading water, the rest had climbed up this slope in the middle and had joined the throngs of prepubescent kids jumping off the side into the water. Now mind you, there were college age guys there too and they were jumping off the highest spot...so this is exactly where I headed, bringing Kristibeth and Anthony, another YP, along with me. This was where the action was happening!
There are signs posted everywhere that you are not allowed to jump off these ledges, but for some reason the park employees just sat around watching kids hurl themselves headlong into the water without so much as batting an eyelash. So I figured a pasty white, late twenty-something wouldn't bother them too much.
I'm not exactly sure why I decided to do this. I really think that I'm starting to become a little fearless and nonchalant about these kinds of things. I saw them from the water doing it and just said, "Hey, why not?" After scrambling up the rocks, I took a look at the first ledge. Not too bad, I thought. But not big enough. The second one was equally as disappointing. Slightly bigger but not enough drop. The third one was a decent hight and would be a good place to start this first time experience. I might venture a guess to say that the drop was 20 feet, or be like Bill Bryson and claim it was 1000ft drop into a tiny swimming pool below. Lets go with the latter, as it sounds more exciting. This spot also had a great running start. If anything I think this is what scared me the most. I feared slipping as I pushed off and cracking my skull off the rocks as I fell. Oh, and did I mention I had to do this without my glasses? Well, I did. But strangely, jumping off a cliff without much sight or depth perception that made it that much more exciting.
As several kids plunged off the edge into the obis, I decided I better push myself in front and make my move before I thought about slipping on that ledge too much. It was starting to get to me so I said, "I'm next." And that was it. As soon as the running path was clear I asked the kid who was the lookout if I was good to go...twice. I had to buy a little more time. Was I actually going to do it?
I took off running and hurled myself forward, arms flailing, over the edge. I hit the water pretty hard and felt it swallow me whole. It was a rushing sensation as I popped like a cork to the top and inhaled for air. It amazed me that I didn't even have to think about holding my breath on the way down...of course I started thinking about it once I was underwater and hoped that I had not went down so far that I would run out before I sprung back up. At the surface I coughed to get the water out that had went in my nose, then swam to the side and turned to wait for Kristi and Anthony...problem was I couldn't really them. There was lots of colour and movement, but I couldn't tell who was next until they were flying through the air. Eventually both pushed themselves past the kids and had safe landings. I did, however, manage to get a lot of water in my ears and at the restaurant later I looked like Will Ferrell in A Night at the Roxbury, trying to shake the water out of my ears.
It was a great experience, so much so that I did it a couple more times, almost losing my bikini top in the process twice, but managing to pull it back down before I came to the surface. Lucky me. Unlucky college boys. :)