Adventure is something that brought Danny and I together. I also think it’s one of the main things that keeps us together. We are endlessly discussing what we want to do next and where we want to travel. Our relationship really began with adventure. In our first year of dating we had five major adventures: a roller coaster ride, a zipline, a bungee jump, a skydive and a hiking trip.
1. World’s Largest Indoor Triple Loop Roller Coaster
Mindbender West Edmonton Mall
On our second date in January 2011, we went on the biggest roller coaster we could find….within Edmonton. The Mindbender in West Edmonton Mall is the world’s largest indoor triple loop roller coaster (according to Wikipedia). For someone who is scared of heights and doesn’t do very well on rides, I’m surprised that Danny agreed to go. He didn’t admit it at the time, but I’m sure he was terrified. I really love rides so I was looking forward to have someone to go with me! In high school, I rode the Mindbender too many times to count in one night. From that, I knew that for the best experience you have to sit in the front. It is much more exciting to be able to see over the edge of the drops. Conversely, if you sit in the very back you get whip-lash. There was no puking and the date continued so I think that is success! We did both have black out moments on the loops, but I’m pretty sure most people have experience that on the Mindbender.
2. A True “Flying” Experience
In April 2011, we went on our first trip together to Jasper. We decided to make it a trip that was both enjoyable and adventurous and something that could push our limits. Danny hadn’t done a zipline before and I had done one at band camp, but nothing like this one. The zipline is located just outside of Hinton and is quite unique. You climb onto the roof of a cabin with a sloped roof and are helped into an unusual harness. A rope is then attached to your back and you run off the roof to “fly like superman”. Even though it was a short ride, you could make yourself swing from side to side by moving your arms a certain way. According to Danny, this was the highlight of our trip besides the sentimental moments of us being on our first trip together.
3. World’s Highest Indoor Bungee Jump
Centre of Gravity West Edmonton Mall
In June 2011, after five months of dating, we scheduled our first bungee jumps, again at West Edmonton Mall. You can bungee jump into a wave pool in the Waterpark in the mall. When I was a kid we went to the Waterpark quite often on the weekend. I always remember stopping what I was doing and watching the bungee jumpers. Danny chose to jump with the harness around his waist and I went with it around my feet. They take your weight and write it on your arm in Sharpie. You then start the long walk to the top platform. They have you step forward and attach all of the appropriate cords. Then you hold the bungee cord and walk to the edge of the platform. They ask you to drop the cord. Whooop. There it goes.
Looking over the edge I remember thinking am I really going to jump off of here? It is really high! Who consciously makes a decision to jump off of a 100 foot platform? They make you count down….”5, 4, 3, 2, 1, bungee!” and then you jump. Looking back at the video neither Danny nor I really thought about it at all. Danny didn’t even wait for the count of one. I, at least waited for them to say bungee, but I was off of there right away. You can watch us bungee jumping here:
I thought the worst part would be forcing myself to jump, but it was not. Being flung back up into the air and then the straps pulling on your feet is incredibly uncomfortable. It felt like my feet were going to be pulled off. I also ended up swinging like a giant pendulum while still bouncing. Bungee jumping is still the scariest thing that I have ever done. Danny really wants to do another bungee jump somewhere big and outdoors. I’m still not entirely convinced. Doing it once was enough for me to realize I really don’t like bungee jumping.
4. Best Skydiving in the Edmonton Area
In August 2011, Danny planned a skydiving adventure for my birthday. Skydiving is something I had always wanted to try. I always felt like it was the apex of adventure. I know so many people who are terrified to go skydiving and prefer the idea of going bungee jumping. In my opinion, you should be terrified to go bungee jumping and excited beyond belief to be able to go sky diving. It was one of the best times of my life.
We chose to do a tandem jump which included about 1500 m of free fall. You are strapped to an instructor who is responsible for packing up the parachute and pulling the cord. As we were suited up there was a lot of fear and anticipation in my head. When we were up in the plane, I started thinking, “How am I going to jump out of here?” At about 13,000 feet, they opened the doors and the solo jumpers began leaving the plane. Danny was out before me and it seemed like he just disappeared. Then I was up. We got to the door and there really wasn’t much time to think. All of a sudden we were out of the plane and in free fall. I thought there would be a jolt once you hit the air, but it was absolutely nothing like bungee jumping. It felt like I was floating. I felt free. I think if I had been doing a solo jump I might have been freaking out a bit more, but I was attached to a professional and there was also another professional right in front of me taking pictures. We were able to do some spins in the air by just moving our arms and after about 45 seconds of free fall the parachute was pulled. I found it very uncomfortable because it really pulled the harness up. Danny said it was his favourite part though. I think it’s because he knew he wasn’t going to plummet into the ground, but he said it felt like you were being stretched :S
Once the parachute was pulled I got to take control for a bit and we did some more spins and got a chance to really look at the landscape around us. It was beautiful and so peaceful and quiet. Skydiving is definitely something I would do again if I ever get the chance.
5. A True Back Country Experience
Willmore Wilderness Park
At the end of August in 2011, we took our first major backpacking trip together. Danny had been on a couple of hiking trips before, but I never had. I had been camping yes and hiking yes, but never actual backpacking where you carry everything you need to the middle of nowhere and pitch a tent and sleep. I think Danny was really surprised when I told him I would go with him. He thought I would be scared of sleeping in the middle of nowhere and the potential of being attacked by a bear. I was really most scared of having to carry a 35 lb. pack 18 km. (Btw that did end up being the scariest apart).
Here is a picture with me and all my gear. Since this first trip I have definitely lightened my load, partly in reducing the personal items I bring and partly in giving Danny all of the heavy stuff.
There were three major water crossings along the way with the water up over my knees in some places and the water freezing cold even in August.It was a huge hassle, but we took off our hiking boots every time and put on water shoes to make it easier to cross.
I remember while walking I only looked about a metre in front of me just so I could see Danny. If I looked any further I only got discouraged by all of the hills. By around 16 km on the first day we reached a fork in the trail where we weren’t sure which way to go. The right fork went up a hill and the left fork went down into a valley. To my relief, Danny chose to go left.We eventually found a campsite hidden within the trees and set up camp for the night.
The next morning we were up early to hike up one of the ridges near Eagle’s Nest Pass. There were a lot of ups and downs between the hills. Below is the view from the very top, which I have only seen in pictures. I am laying on the ridge behind absolutely exhausted, not willing to go all the way down a hill and back up again. On our second day we probably hiked 14 km up and down the ridge.
One of the marvelous things about Willmore is the seclusion. It has all the charm of Jasper National Park, but absolutely no crowds. For a true back country experience, Willmore does not disappoint. You can find your own spot within the park and see no one for days. On the main trail in from Rock Lake we saw maybe ten people, mostly on horseback. Another highlight of Willmore is the mountains there are “people sized”. You can get to the top of a ridge relatively easily and have a breathtaking view.
Our third and final day in Willmore was spent hiking out in the rain. Willmore was relatively uneventful considering some of our more recent hiking trips. However, Willmore was the trip that I personally felt the most proud of. When we finally went home I remember feeling like I had accomplished an amazing feat. I survived!