Would You Do It? Conquering Fears and Bungee Jumping in British Columbia

This post was last updated on December 19th, 2014

Bungee Jumping

I swore I wouldn’t do it.

I was certain that I would be one of those people who happily live out the remainder of their life without ever feeling a compelling need to jump off of a bridge. I was wrong.

 

Bungee Jump at WildPlay

 

We were in Nanaimo, British Columbia as part of the #GreatCoastRoadTrip. Our itinerary for the day included a stop at WildPlay Element Parks, a 17-acre park located in the midst of lush Douglas Fir forests and a dramatic river canyon. Our schedule was flexible, allowing us to choose between the four vertigo-inducing challenges, including a bungee jump, primal swing, guided zip line tour, and the park’s signature Monkido Aerial Adventure. After much debate (Dan wanted to do the bungee from the get-go) we opted for the latter of the four, which would take us on dozens of games, obstacles and zip lines high through the trees.

 

WildPlay Challenge Course

Zipline at WildPlay

 

I told Dan I would think about the whole bungee jumping thing while we did the Monkido Aerial Adventure. See, Dan had already checked bungee jumping off of his bucket list at one of the highest bungees in the world. He had no fear of doing it again, especially if it meant I would do it, too.

I thought that traversing dozens of ladders, cargo nets, rope swings, tightropes, swinging logs and wobbly bridges might make me more receptive to bungee jumping. In reality, it didn’t. The Monkido Aerial Adventure proved fun and challenging, a healthy dose of adrenaline without any actual fear for my life. I was now ready to overindulge in Mexican food, the next activity on our itinerary, and one I had been looking forward to all morning.

Unfortunately I wouldn’t get my way just yet. Dan, being the intrepid soul he is, decided he was going to bungee jump with or without me. We cautiously climbed to the top of the bridge and awaited the bungee jumping staff. With my heart pounding through my ears, I took a quick glimpse over the edge and down into the river canyon below. It didn’t actually look that high. And I had jumped out of a plane before. Maybe I could do this after all.

I waited expectantly for the trained crew to hand Dan a helmet. Or a full-body harness. Or at least a safety line. But none of these things came. Instead, I watched as Dan had his ankles tied up—and that was it! I firmly declared that there was no way in hell I was jumping off a bridge with only a rope wrapped around my ankles. I kissed Dan goodbye, thanked him for three lovely years of marriage, and stood back to apprehensively film his drop.

 

Dan's Bungee Jump

 

Without so much as a breath of hesitation, Dan lifted his arms, gave a holler, and jumped. Seconds later he was bobbing upside down as the crew collected him safely in the raft and brought him back to solid ground. He had survived.

While I waited for Dan, I decided to test the staff a bit on their bungee jumping knowledge. I wanted to know safety records, methodology, training… Sure, statistically bungee jumping might be safer than driving in a car. But who in their right mind really jumps off of a bridge, anyway?

I know I must have been totally aggravating, but the Jump Master was patient with me, and kindly explained the entire process. The ankle strap system was the original harnessing system for bungee jumping. It eliminates extra straps and buckles that can get caught or fail and instead uses a girth hitching system, a foolproof method relying on physics; that is, the knot will only get tighter and tighter as the jumper’s bodyweight pulls on it. There’s no way the ankle harness is coming off. Which leaves the bungee cords. Again, the Jump Master assured me that there was nothing to worry about, that the cords are retired far before their suggested lifespan, and that he personally looks after each one. To let the numbers speak, over 250,000 people have taken the plunge at WildPlay, all without a single incident. I probably should have been convinced at this point. Still, I was hesitant.

Dan was beaming when I met him, the rush of free falling clearly coursing through his veins. I asked if we could please go get some guacamole now to celebrate his jump. Dan turned in his gear, collected his jumping badge, and we began to make our way to the car. I could practically taste the creamy avocado at this point. Again, I would have to wait.

On our way to the exit, we saw the Jump Master once more. I don’t remember exactly what it was he said to me. It was something about taking chances and living life to the fullest—on choosing adventure and taking risks and overcoming fears of the unknown. It all sounds very cliché to type, but whatever words he spoke to me at that moment had a profound effect on me. There was no pressure whatsoever; in fact, the Jump Master walked away after he had spoken to us, leaving me to ponder his words as we continued walking to the parking lot. But then something clicked. I stopped in my tracks, looked Dan in the eye, and said I had to jump off that bridge right now. I knew that deep down I would regret it if I didn’t do it. I also knew I would remember this occasion in a sort of, ‘if I can bungee jump, I can do anything’.

 

There was only one stipulation: Dan was coming with me.

 

WildPlay is unique in that it offers tandem bungee jumps. I knew the only way I would make it off that bridge would be if Dan was holding me tight. He would be the full-body harness I was so convinced I needed.

We were back on the bridge before I had time to reconsider, the staff smiling widely at my change of heart. I chattered nonsense, my nerves starting to overcome all of my sense. With our ankles bound, Dan and I edged our way to the platform overlooking the canyon. I hugged Dan so hard I might have suffocated him. I tried to convince everyone I had been joking and that this was far enough and that now I knew what it was like to get all tied up and I didn’t really need to do the jumping part. And then, after what seemed like seconds to me but probably a lifetime to the staff, our feet left contact with the platform.

 

A Cruising Couple Bungee Jump

 

We were free falling. I was screaming. The cord pulled tight. I was screaming. The raft came to collect us. I was screaming.

It was a rush, to say the least. But I did it. And it was amazing.

Bungee jumping was more than just overcoming a fear. It was more than a metaphor for living life adventurously and taking chances. I think the thing that made bungee jumping so life changing for me was that I was able to have the experience with Dan. Not just alongside him, but gripping him with my whole being as we went over the edge. If that doesn’t make you bond as a couple, I don’t know what will.

Believe it or not, bungee jumping has also helped me to get a hold of my fear of flying (or, more accurately, my fear of turbulence). Something about remembering what is feels like to free fall, of having Dan there with me, of knowing that everything will be as it should—it’s just all very reassuring and, somewhat ironically, grounding.

So would I bungee jump again? I suppose I have to jump alone at some point. There’s a whole lot of value and lessons to be learned in that, too. But for now, I don’t feel a compelling urge to get on the edge of a bridge again any time soon.

And for the record, I never got that Mexican food. It took me so long to work up the courage to jump that it put us behind schedule. I suppose surviving bungee jumping wins out over margaritas and guacamole. Just this once though.

 

Some Bungee Jumping Tips:

*Don’t over think it. Statistically, you have a much greater chance of injuring yourself in your home than you do bungee jumping. The fear is a rational response from your body, but don’t let it overcome you. Try using a mantra to talk yourself through it.

*There isn’t a sharp tug or jolt when the rope catches. In fact, you might not even realize at first that you’ve switched directions!

*Choose to jump at a place with a reassuring staff. I think it’s obvious to say that I would not have jumped at all if it hadn’t been for the friendly, well-trained and patient staff at WildPlay Element Parks. To say I was grateful for them would be the understatement of the year.

*Once you’ve jumped, you’re going to feel a rush of pride. You’re also going to be exhausted from the rush of emotions and adrenaline (at least we were).

*Take the risks that are right for you. Don’t jump to prove yourself to facebook. Don’t do it just to say you’ve done it. Bungee jump for YOU and you alone.

 

A single jump at WildPlay Element Parks in Nanaimo, British Columbia costs $99.99. A same day, second jump is $49.99. The jump is safe for ages 12+ (their oldest jumper was in her 80s!). The jump is 150 feet high and offers the chance for a water touchdown, if you feel like getting wet.

Nanaimo’s Wild Play Park also hosts an annual Naked Bungee Jumping event to fundraise money for the British Colombia Schizophrenic Society. Participants get to face two of their biggest fears—that of falling and of being exposed—while supporting a good cause.

 

So would you give Bungee jumping a try? Have you already crossed it off your bucket list? If so, where?

 

We were guests of WildPlay Elements Park. All decisions to jump off bridges and then write about it are, as always, our own.

23 Comments

  1. that’s awesome. I’ve been looking for the right time to do a jump. I was going to do it last summer at Yellowstone but for some reason they weren’t doing it that week. Sooner or later though I’ll find the right place.

    Reply
    • Aw what a bummer! Hope you get the chance to do it soon at the right place :)

      Reply
  2. For some reason, I find the idea of jumping out of a plane less terrifying than bungee jumping too! I’m not especially afraid of heights, but I have to admit that bungee jumping has never been something I’ve felt the need to do. I can imagine it would give you quite the rush, however, and it’s really cool that you guys got to do it together!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted…Travel Photo Roulette #81: The Face of a NationMy Profile

    Reply
    • Yea I know for certain I wouldn’t have done it by myself, but it was such a cool experience doing it together. We totally get that bungee jumping isn’t for everyone though, and if you’ve never felt the need to do it, that’s totally cool :)

      Reply
    • hahaha oh no!! I’m glad that my terror was so evident :) I really am glad I did it though- at least you now know, if I can do it, you could too ;-)

      Reply
  3. Hi!

    I had knee surgery in the past – would bungee jumping hurt my knees? Did the cord jerk your knees when you did it?

    Reply
    • Great question, and you know, we’re really not sure if it would hurt your knees or not. I don’t think so- we don’t remember feeling a jerk or anything, and there isn’t much pressure on your knees, but I would definitely ask your doctor first just to make sure :)

      Reply
  4. Well written post! Sounds exciting but I’m not quite ready to take the plunge!

    Reply
  5. It’s something I’ve wanted to do forever but just haven’t made happen yet. As I am home in Vancouver and Seattle for the summer maybe I’ll head over to Nanaimo and check it off my list. Thanks for the push!
    sarah recently posted…The Hidden Gem of Jetty IslandMy Profile

    Reply
    • Awesome! Definitely check it out in Nanaimo then. I seriously couldn’t have imagined a better place to try it, especially for my first time. The staff was so incredibly kind and supportive. If you do go, tell them we said hi. Haha I think they’ll remember my craziness ;-P

      Reply
  6. Ummm…nope. Nope, I don’t think I could do it although I must admit, that like you, I’d probably be more inclined to take the plunge if I was strapped to my husband. But the thing is, I’m pretty sure that he wouldn’t do it either. Lol! So like I said, nope! ;-)
    Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans recently posted…Giveaway – WIN a $250 Marriott Gift CardMy Profile

    Reply
  7. Once again guys I think you tow are incredibly brave and adventurous. I think I mentioned already before that I’m petrified of height and I don’t think I would be able to do bungee jumping, but “never say never!”
    Franca recently posted…Why ‘Couchsurfing is free’ Is A MythMy Profile

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    • Thanks Franca! That’s true, never say never! I did meet one other girl who was terrified of heights but has been bungee jumping before, so maybe you could do it :)

      Reply
  8. I think you are incredibly brave – I really hate that stomach dropping feeling so I don’t even go on rollercoasters anymore (I did when I was a kid). I think bungy jumping would probably be the worst for that feeling and so there is no way I would ever do it.
    Katie @ The World on my Necklace recently posted…Update and my travel plans for 2014My Profile

    Reply
    • Yea it definitely does give you the stomach dropping feeling! I also hate that feeling, and I think it’s why I could go sky diving but was so incredibly terrified to try bungee jumping. If I can do it, anyone can, though I think it’s totally understandable why you wouldn’t want to :)

      Reply
  9. Was Dan deaf afterwards from you screaming in his ear? LOL! I’ve gone skydiving and loved it, but bungee jumping just isn’t something that’s ever interested me. But maybe the right opportunity just hasn’t presented itself yet :-)
    Heather recently posted…7 Reasons You Should Visit Cleveland Right NowMy Profile

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    • Haha probably very nearly ;-P I totally understand about the sky jumping vs. bungee jumping thing. It’s how I always felt. But in the end, I’m so glad I worked up the nerve to try bungee jumping. Definitely go for it if you get the opportunity :D

      Reply
  10. Oh you’re too brave! NO, we wouldn’t go bungee jumping! We’d be too concerned about back or neck injuries. But it’s fun vicariously jumping with you reading about your post :-).
    Sand In My Suitcase recently posted…Charming Europe Hotels: Five favesMy Profile

    Reply
    • The jump master was so convincing with his speech on safety and overcoming fears I just couldn’t leave without giving it a try. Luckily I was able to take Dan over the edge with me or there was no way:-p

      Reply

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