Linda Stamper Boyne: Airborne over the Vail Valley
Vail, CO, Colorado
I’ve never been much of a risk taker, and I think the passing years and motherhood have diminished this quality even more. The riskiest thing I’ve done in the past several years was to wear white jeans before Memorial Day. Until two weeks ago.
Two weeks ago, I took a risk. I took a chance, revealing publicly to the world (or at least the Vail Daily readership) that I want to be a dancer. I put myself out there and offered myself as an understudy dancer for The Youth Foundation’s “Star Dancing Gala.”
I stand before you today (metaphorically, that is), as the newest addition to the cast of “notable locals” in this fundraising event for The Youth Foundation, taking place Aug. 18 at the Vail Valley Jet Center. (For tickets, dancer bios, information and to make donations, go to stardancinggala.com. Yes, that was a shameless plug).
High from this small risk-taking success, I jumped at the chance to do something that completely pushed me out of my comfort zone. I had the opportunity last week to go paragliding. Apparently a look of terror crossed my face when it was offered up, but I said yes before even thinking about it.
Paragliding. Hurling off the top of a precipice and dangling from a glorified kite 2,000 feet above terra firma. Huh? Go figure. Never thought I’d be doing that.
Now, I will admit right here that I have a healthy respect for heights. Let’s not call it a fear. It doesn’t paralyze me, but I really don’t have a burning desire to put myself in high places. Combined with my fairly low need for adrenaline and I would not be the most logical choice for paragliding.
I’ve seen the paragliders hovering above I-70 when driving between Edwards and Wolcott and thought to myself, “Those guys are crazy. Where are they going to land? It’s just freeway, highway and river.” I was about to find out.
It wasn’t until we got to the launch site at the top of Bellyache Ridge on Sunday morning with the Vail Valley Paragliding instructors that I allowed myself to begin processing what I was about to do. My first thought was, “Am I frickin’ nuts?”
My cohort in this adventure was far bolder than I. She was composed and focused, psyched to be having a new experience. Though, when they started talking about landing, she did say it was the first time in her life she wished she had cankles (n. An ankle which has no discernable narrowing from the calf to the foot.) So I tried to follow suit. Fake it till you make it. The confidence, that is, not the cankles.
We were flying tandem with experienced, confident instructors. Greg and Kris didn’t seem the least bit nervous as they enthusiastically explained every aspect of the flight.
Once I was strapped into the harness, instructed on how to run down the hill toward a particular windsock when it was time to go and what to do once we were in the air, it hit me that I was really doing this. I dare to say, through the nerves I felt a little shock of excitement.
Launch time: I concentrated solely on running as I was told, eyes focused on that target flag. Kris did all the hard work controlling the canopy. I just ran and suddenly there was no ground beneath my feet and I was running like a cartoon character. Holy crap! I was airborne!
Kris instructed me to bring my arms in and slide back into the seat and suddenly I was floating above the trees in a comfy little lounge chair. It was exhilarating and thrilling and unexpectedly calm. We glided above a red-tailed hawk circling below us and watched him dive straight down into the trees. Truly awesome, in the real sense of the word; I was awestruck.
Landing in a fied between the Eagle River and the freeway was a piece of cake, though I will admit I felt a little nausea as we neared the ground. The whole experience made me realize we can do so much more than we think we’re capable of. Facing fears, taking risks, trying new things. I’m on a roll!
Linda Stamper Boyne of Edwards writes weekly for the Vail Daily. She can be contacted through email@example.com
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