I love birds and I've dreamed of having the freedom of flying like a bird for many years, but my huge fear of heights always prevented me from wanting to skydive or go paragliding. (Or anything else that involved heights! Roller coasters were even too much for me until my mid 20's)
I had a couple of traumatic experiences involving heights when I was a child and it's only been in the past 10 years that I've made a conscious effort to take small steps to build up my courage with the intention of eventually overcoming my fear of heights. Zip-trekking definitely helped me, as did the Capilano Suspension Bridge, rock climbing and repelling, etc. --but I still had a fear that prevented me from freely doing many things that involved heights.
A few years ago when I heard of paragliding, and how different it is from skydiving, I looked into it further and knew that one day I would do it. So I put it on my "Live Life Fully List" and knew that I would learn how to do it one day.
Thankfully I have a wonderful friend who gifted me with the Paragliding Course at iParaglide here in Vancouver. What an awesome gift, thanks Kevin! 🙂
So a couple of weekends ago we both went to our theory class, and then a week later was the first outdoor portion of the course: "Slope Soaring"
I will never forget the feeling of getting lifted up off the hill for the first time. I was nervous but loved the very unique and free feeling.
Then it was time for the real paragliding...running off a mountain at 2,000 feet. I was excited to check it off my list, but absolutely freaked out to actually do it!
I have NEVER gone through the roller coaster of emotions I experienced that day. A major breakdown, then a MAJOR breakthrough.
After going back and forth for an hour about whether I was going to take my 1st flight or not, I finally decided I would go. And before I knew it, it was my turn.
I was strapped into my harness, geared up, and safety checked multiple times by Dion, the owner of iParaglide. He gave me one last pep talk before I was set to launch.
I hear: "3, 2, 1, tension!" I focused my attention off the mountain into the horizon and started running like crazy. As I was lifted up into the sky, I tried my best to focus on what I learned, and the instructions I was being given through my walkie-talkie, and enjoy the ride without freaking out too much.
It was super quiet, super peaceful and the breath taking, unobstructed view was unlike anything I've seen before. So spectacular and surreal!
My flight was about 15 minutes, which went by SO fast. Before I knew it I was landing (which was WAY harder, and faster than it was in the park during the slope soaring class! :O )
My first launch and flight was ABSOLUTE INSANITY!! What an adrenaline rush! I've experienced an adrenaline rush many different times in my life, but paragliding solo, by far, was the greatest adrenaline rush I've ever experienced.
I am so thrilled I did it and I'm looking forward to the next 4 flights, and FINALLY overcoming my fear of heights!
Here's some pics of my experience:
Here's some videos of my experience: