The aqueduct is a 120′ tall steel structure that spans the Bear River in the Eldorado National Forest. Nothing but a narrow maintenance catwalk along the edge affords purchase to anyone who braves its structure. It is from this catwalk that a leap of faith will be made.
I climb up to the catwalk from the river below; a long, steep, slippery climb which leaves me out of breath and with my heart racing before I even get to the catwalk. Approaching it, I take a minute to relax, catch my breath and center myself.
I must not fear…
I walk onto the catwalk and greet my handlers. I sit down onto the catwalk as they strap the ankle harnesses onto my legs and attach the bungee chords. The chords are tossed over the edge. I can feel their weight pulling on my legs.
Fear is the mind killer.
I slip under the safety rail and pull myself up to a standing position with my back to the open sky. Final systems checks are made, pictures are taken and instructions are given.
Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear.
I turn my body around to look out at the chasm of water and stone and sky. My arms are wrapped around the safety rail behind me. I can feel the muscles in my arms go taut. They are all that keeps me from going over the edge and plummeting below.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
Everything gets very quite. I can hear the river rushing past the granite boulders below me. A hawk flies past in search of prey. Everything is very still except for the beating of my heart.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Somewhere in the back of my consciousness I can hear the team leader begin his countdown… MY countdown.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
How long is the space between heartbeats? Within that space, I become conscious of every little thing about myself; the tension in my arms, the weakness in my knees, and above all other things… the realization that I am truly ALONE.
Only I will remain.
My body leans forward over the edge, straining the muscles in my arms to their limits. And just before that next heart beat occurs…
I let go…