In our continuous effort to cross off the items on our “Ten things to do before we die” list, the milliner and I went tandem paragliding yesterday. And, honestly, I’m torn.
We spent the weekend in Magog, and headed back to Montreal yesterday, driving through mostly countryside, admiring the greenery, figuring out how we would spend our loto winnings (#2 on the list). End up in a small town near Granby, which really was reminiscent of Napa, what with the vineyards and rolling hills and everything. Head to the paragliding place and spend the next half hour filling out forms attesting that we won’t sue them if we die. (Honestly, I love checking off the box saying that I’ve had no previous heart attacks or disease that may prevent me from doing said activity.) We pay the fee (more than we were originally told), and head outside to wait for the truck that’ll bring us up the mountain.
While waiting, we’re looking around at folks practising their take-offs and whatnots, and it suddenly dawns on us that, gosh, there’s a lot of “keeping-up-with-the-joneses” going on: there are at least three brand new Honda Element SUVs in the parking lot, two of the exact same colour, everyone has the exact same Camelback water packs on their back, they’re all drinking from their Red Bull, etc. Sure, every sport, so to speak, follows similar tendencies, but this was ridiculous.
Regardless, the truck comes along, and we all jump in the back, along with the gear. Four-wheel up this back road, hanging on for dear life, when I ask one of the instructors, “So, um, has anyone ever chickened out?” Answer: No, but some folks have vomited. Lovely. The truck stops near the top, we jump out, and walk the 20 or so metres to a clearing. With a most incredible view of the farmlands below. And at which point I got some second thoughts. We sit off to the side while the instructors and other jumpers lay out their paraphernalia. One instructor hands me a helmet and… that’s it. No instruction, no explanation of how anything works, just “you’re going to run forward with me about four steps, we’ll get pushed back about four steps, and then we run forward.” Um, okay. The milliner goes off first, simple as pie. My instructor and I get in line, start moving forward, and I get tripped up in the lines. Twice. We finally get it right, run to the edge and…
It was fucking cool. No, really, it was amazing. The earth dropped away, everything is just silent, the wind brushes your face, and you float. You simply… float.
The instructor would maneuver the glider this way and that, gaining altitude. Occasionally, we’d hit a thermal (or whatever) and you could feel yourself just suddenly rise. I don’t know how long we stayed up there, it seemed like quite a while. At one point, he asked, “So, you want to do some acrobatics?”
Seemed like a good idea at the time.
It wasn’t. He suddenly stopped the glider’s advance, pulled down on one side, and we were whipped off to the side. At which point he pulled on the other brake, and we immediately headed to that side. So, imagine doing whoop-de-dos, while rapidly losing altitude. By now, my eyes are slammed shut, and I’m tasting the meal I had the previous day. It was akin to the worst bed spins I’ve ever had. I had to yell at him to stop, feeling like I’ve let down the macho nation. Fuck that, I didn’t care for that kind of emetic. He pulls one final bootleg turn, and we go back to floating.
Which really was fun. I could do that all day, just riding the wind and the thermals. Not so much with the stunts, though. Again, I lose track of time, but one thought keeps running through my mind: damn, I sure hope I don’t drop the car key, because we’ll never find that again.
And that was it. We head around the mountain, back towards the landing spot, and alight smooth as silk. Definitely fun, I could really do it again, but strangely it didn’t grab me the way other activities have. That surprised me, because I’m often a true believer in these kind of things. But, oh, to just go back and float for hours, that I could do.