I've often been called a daredevil, but I do not believe that's accurate. My interpretation of a daredevil is someone who cheats death, and even cheats life. I think "thrill-seeker" is a more accurate description. But maybe it's just semantics.
I got into skydiving the same way many people do -- I did a tandem jump one weekend thinking it would be a one-time thing. I was hooked immediately! I enrolled, right then and there, in what is known as the Accelerated Freefall Course ("AFF"), and not long after that, became a licensed skydiver!
It was an intense love affair right from the start, which would consume the following ten years. I joined an entirely unique community of wonderful people who became close friends, and traveled nationally and internationally to participate in so many skydiving events and adventures. It was an awesome and fantastic time in my life. ...and then came BASE jumping... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
BASE is an acronym which stands for Building-Antenna-Span-Earth. These are the objects from which BASE jumpers leap. Although skydiving is an obvious gateway to BASE jumping, I steered clear of it for a long time, fully believing I would never BASE jump. No way was I ever doing that! Famous last words!
My very first BASE jump was from Kjerag Mountain, which is on the shore of Lysefjorden, in the village of Lysebotn, Norway. I traveled there with a group of friends and we spent a glorious week climbing and leaping from that mountain. It was a fantastic, unforgettable adventure; however, even after that trip, I was still not convinced that I would continue BASE jumping.
But then one day, while at a BASE competition event, my friend Lisa said to me "Ya know, we should start our own all-girls competition team." I smiled and said "you had me at all-girls competition." ...and the rest - as they say - is history! We had named the team and chosen the remaining two members within the hour!
Our team spent many weekends training before our first competition. At that time, the BASE competition circuit included five competition events per year, each in a different part of the U.S. including bridges in California and Idaho, the Red Rock Cliffs in Moab, Utah, and the culminating event at the New River Bridge in Fayetteville WV. We would typically travel internationally once or twice a year as well. Traveling all over the country and the world with my favorite peeps, doing this thing we loved to do, meeting new people and seeing new sites - it was a dream! Within a couple of years, much to our surprise, we had a few companies sponsoring most of our gear and equipment. Whaaat?
We had a blast traveling, jumping and competing together for about five years. Eventually, this thing called LIFE began to intervene. We each found ourselves being pulled in other directions, by other priorities and new obsessions... ... ...and and so it was, we made our last jumps together as team. It was the end of an era, and a wild and fabulous ride! Those were some of the best times of my life.
I am eternally grateful, not only for the many gifts of adventure, fun and close friends I gathered from skydiving and BASE jumping, but also for the gifts of a deeper understanding, humility, love and respect for life, and just how fragile and precious it is.