Thursday 2nd July 2015
I entered into the back of his van and we were talking along the way as my heart was starting to beat stronger. We passed a small bit of grassy land towards Saalbach and he told me that it was our landing zone. In no time at all we arrived at Saalbach’s gondola lift where we got out and brought along 2 large holdalls. He passed me one of them and we walked inside the gondola station. The cable cars began to move a few minutes after we arrived so we rushed into one with all the gear we had. We climbed up admiring the marvellous views as we got higher and higher whilst talking along the way to pass the time. He said to me that he could take pictures and videos too so I agreed and prepared myself mentally when we finally arrived at the top.
|Me and Pro-Paraglider|
The views were glorious with the huge mountains to the north and the Saalbach-Hinterglemm valley down below. Speaking of which it was a very long way down and I passed a sign saying that at the point where I was standing was the 2018m mark. My adrenaline kicked in as we headed towards the clearing. As I looked to the south, I could see the marvellous spectacle of Grossglockner mountain range far into the distance. We eventually arrived at our take off point which had a grassy steep slope and full of sheep and there mess. We dropped the gear and attached on the harnesses and helmet and I was sniggering to myself as I was just wondering what good a helmet was going to do if I came off the parachute at such a height. Anyway he then brought out the red and blue parachute which was huge. It was at that moment when I realised what I was about to do and my heart was pounding very hard. The pro paraglider gave me clear instructions to not lean back or hold onto him for dear life and said I had to keep running no matter what.
|Pro-Paraglider and Me at the top|
There was no turning back now as there were people waiting for their turn behind us and I was the first one to go. I could also see a lot of people stopping to watch us leave so no pressure I thought to myself. It took a long while for the wind to hit the parachute but when it did and the parachute was in the air, it threw us around just slightly. It was then when he told me to run and with no hesitation I went for it. In a matter of seconds we were off the ground with me still flicking my legs. It felt so surreal as soon as we were in the air and it was truly a breathtaking feeling like I was flying without the use of a plane; I felt truly free. However pretty soon I started to feel a bit light headed and slightly queasy but I held it together and made the most of my adventure. There were times we were banking left and right taking in the glorious sights around us. All the while he was taking pictures of us at every angle and video too.
He screamed out a cowboy yeehaa which made me laugh and I followed suit shouting woohoo but preoccupied with the views more. He then asked me if I liked roller coasters meaning did I want to be flipped around doing acrobatics; I immediately said no because I was too queasy. I took a long while looking around taking the experience in and then it was nearly time to land. I could see the landing area plain as day and the closer we got he had to do sharper turns and drops to get to the right height. I was alright then as I was too busy looking at the views of the ground getting ever closer. As we approached it, he then told me to keep my legs right up and so I did. All of a sudden we slid gently to a stop feeling so relieved to be back on the ground. It took quite a while to pull myself around as we packed up the gear. He had to rush off again leaving me with the gear and all I kept thinking of was a great sense of accomplishment. I finally did something I always wanted to do and what a perfect setting for it too.
I was still feeling a bit light headed as he came back with the van and as soon as we loaded up we were off heading back to Hinterglemm. He shook my hand and then he was off on his next jump as I walked back to my room with the sun beaming down on me. When I got back in I felt like I needed a shower thinking it would help me feel better which it slightly did. I then fell asleep for 15 minutes with the sound of drills and hammers in the background. I had to pull myself together though as my next excursion of the day was in 45 minutes at a place called Krimml waterfalls. There was no way I was going to miss it so I got changed feeling a lot better thank god and eventually left. I still had a bit of time to spare so I wandered around the village to see all the stalls and ramps being prepared for the upcoming bike festival. There were quite a lot of stalls with brand names I knew and some I didn’t but it looked like it was going to be a big event. I bumped into a woman from the hotel and she asked how my paragliding went and told her it was pretty much awesome. I realised I had 15 minutes left so we parted ways and I headed to the bus stop once more.
When I arrived the coach was busy reversing into the bay and I was pretty much the first one there. As I looked behind me Dan was approaching and he was eager to know how my paragliding went as he wanted to do it himself. I told him it was breathtaking to which he jokingly said ‘Jammy git’ as we laughed and entered the coach. I was the first one on and sat right at the front so I could get great views from the front window. Once everyone was aboard we set off heading for the next pick ups. The pick ups weren’t as bad as yesterday and we were soon on our way to the waterfalls. Dan began talking on the microphone about facts on where we were going and when he finished he caught his eye on a paraglider ahead of us. He then gave a shout out about me doing it which made me laugh; I felt like a hero. Anyway with a different route than previous trips there were new and fascinating views surrounding us and it made the views all the more better when I sat at the front.
It felt like quite a short trip before we arrived at the waterfalls. When I got off the coach the first thing I heard was the thunderous sound of water rushing down. I was excited to get closer to the waterfalls as it was supposedly the highest in Europe. Once everyone was off the coach we all followed Dan nearer to the start point. We had to pay a 3 euro donation to get in and were told there would be a photographer taking our pictures so we had to look out for them and smile. Within seconds there was a flash and seen the photographer ahead of me. So I readied myself with thumbs up and smiled. As it was another hot and lovely day I placed sun cream all over me preventing burning. I then set off heading towards the base of the waterfall and as I got nearer, I was slightly sprayed on from the waterfall which felt great. I got to the base and was awe struck with the gigantic waterfall right in front of me. It was monstrous with a large mass of water rushing down the river with huge swells. I then headed up to the rockier area where the majority of the spray was heading and as soon as I arrived I felt a sudden sense of recharging as the spray washed onto me. I stood there for quite some time which meant I was soaked through but I didn’t care as it just added to the experience. As I was soaked through the sun cream I put on was running down my face and into my eyes which was a bit painful and I had learned my lesson not to put on cream and then get wet.
I left the area to begin my almighty ascent to the top of the waterfall. There were three sections in total and we had a choice to use a taxi to get us half way up or all the way up. Happily, I chose none of them and went up the old fashioned way. So I began climbing coming upon the familiar zig zagging path which got up to the next section of the waterfalls. I was overtaking everyone as the majority of them were old. Then it came to me of how much respect I had to the older people walking up and down the steep inclines. It just made me think and hope that I was going to be like that sometime far in the future. I made it to the second section and stopping for a moment to admire what was around me. At this point I could feel pain on the back of my legs. So instead of stalling, I continued on up the side of the waterfall. I noticed the higher I went the steeper the incline but I wouldn’t stop until I got to the top.
|Halfway to the top|
I was finally closing in at the top pouring with sweat but determined to get there when I seen a familiar couple ahead of me who got the taxi up; they were spurring me on to keep going. I could see the top and hearing the rushing water and as soon as the ground levelled out, I made it so full of relief. I was going to sit at one of the many benches with all the people but as I walked further down I came across a very quiet area on the boulders right next to the river; it was definitely safe enough to sit on without getting swept away. I sat at that spot for ages still catching my breath and cooling down as I ate quite a bit too which helped my hunger. I also just sat in silence listening to the loud swelling water right in front of me; it was truly a remarkable moment.
|Top of Krimmler Waterfall|
I checked my watch again and seen the time creeping up so I grabbed my small rucksack heading for the descent down. I had seen further up a bridge which I wanted to check out and along the way were some beautiful mountain flowers colouring the ground in yellows, pinks and blues. I got to the bridge too admiring the river disappearing far in front of me at where the waterfall began. At this moment it was definitely time to start making my way back. As I did so I could see a small orange butterfly coming straight towards me. So I gently reached my fingertips out and amazingly it landed on my hand. I was gobsmacked and amazed as I tried to take a picture but it flew off as soon as I moved which was a shame; I felt like I was snow white at that moment though. I tried to follow it sticking my hand out but it wouldn’t come back plus the other walkers approaching must have been wondering what I was doing.
Anyway it was time to head back down and I knew this would be a bit easier than climbing up but still had to watch where my feet were going. Each time on the way down there would be platforms where the best views of the waterfalls and the valley below were. I stood on one looking at the drop and all the water looking like it was vanishing. There was still a lot of vapour coming from the waterfall and as the sun was out, it was producing beautiful rainbows which looked picturesque with the setting.
Down I went some more bumping into people from the hotel whilst slowing down to catch my breath and balance at times. I could finally see the bottom section of the waterfall but with people still looking like tiny ants. The steepness was finally beginning to level out until eventually I reached down to the bottom with plenty of time to spare. I headed to the base of the waterfall again so I could catch some more of the spray which felt spectacular again especially after the walk up and down. I headed back towards where the coach dropped us off as the sun was drying me from the spray. I then came across a shop so I went into browse in which I only came out with a postcard. Then I came across the stand with all the pictures on from the photographer. It took a short time to find mine and there I was looking happy and ugly at the same time. I quickly bought that and an ice pop on the way back as I sat at the water museum area.
A short while passed until I had seen the coach with people getting on it so I rushed on thinking that someone was going to pinch my front seat but luckily they didn’t. It was time to leave and head back to Hinterglemm but not before the other drop offs. The drop offs took no time at all and we were soon nearing Hinterglemm once more. The coach finally stopped and I got out welcomed by the blistering heat of the sun and this made quite a lot of people including myself want to go to the shallow pools and put our feet in; so knowing that it was going to be beneficial I didn’t hesitate getting in after everyone else. Everybody had the same reaction and we all got out air drying our feet and talking. I ended up going back in jokingly saying that the North sea was colder than the pool. This time though I stayed in for a very long time chatting away as my feet were beginning to numb. I got out and rested for a while drying my feet whilst everyone else was leaving. I put my socks and boots back on and headed over to the swinging seat just swaying away listening to nothing but birds singing. I then decided to finally head back to my room unpacking my small rucksack and resting watching the work being carried out opposite me.
There were a lot more ramps being placed either wooden or dirt and it started to look like it was coming together very well. The next thing I knew it was time to head downstairs for the evening dinner so I quickly got ready and headed down. I seemed to be the last one to walk in as everyone was already sitting down. I seen my space and headed for it and I seemed to get a nice warmly welcome from the guests as they knew I was paragliding this morning with a lot of them wanting to know how it went. They also told me that they seen me and gave me the time they seen me and what colour my parachute was. It felt amazing having a great story to tell as I began digging into my food wolfing it down like there was no tomorrow. We were also talking about our dogs which made me miss mine and I kept thinking about her reaction when I return home.
Anyway yet again I made another paper rose for Kate hoping to be brave enough to give her it myself. As everyone began to leave I still had half of my drink left and as luck would have it, Kate came over with my departure details. As she gave me the piece of paper, I gave her the rose and yet again she was blushing and smiling. She thought it was sweet and sat with me talking away for a long while sharing stories to one another until one of the waiters came over saying they needed her help with drunk women outside refusing to go away. She went off to sort the problem out as I finally finished my drink. I helped clear the table for the staff and left for my room for the night. I finally lay down for the night thinking what an incredible day I had so full of adventure and triumph.