§13 – On Noticing New Jumps

(Part 25 of 26 in ~ Study inspired by Pakour & Art du Déplacement by V. Thibault)

I once visited the Hoover Dam in Nevada.

South of the dam, U.S. Highway 93 soars across the gorge 900 feet (270m) above the Colorado river. The view of the dam, from the pedestrian walkway on that bridge, is one previously seen only by helicopter. It is simply amazing.

There is a chest-high railing along that pedestrian walkway, and there is nothing above the railing.

The bridge is a “simple” arch span — all of the bridge structure is under the bridge deck — so there I was, standing on a sidewalk.

…next to a railing.

…900 feet in the air.

I leaned casually on that rock-solid railing and took in the unrivaled view.

I took some tourist-y photos.

The bridge occasionally quivered ever-so-slightly in response to a truck embedded in the streams of traffic flying between Arizona and Nevada.

I looked down, down, down to the river far below. It was a serene view; peaceful.

I noticed: The big, round, easy-to-hold top of the railing and the two-inch-wide concrete lip on the outside of the railing.

…and like a sucker-punch to the stomach, it occurred to me that I could turn-vault over that railing. I nearly threw up from the adrenaline spike. My knees went wobbly and had I not been on the sane side of that railing, I would absolutely have fallen off that bridge.

I slinked back to the car, hugging the side of the walkway away from the railing.

I have since looked up the numbers; it would have taken me 7.5 seconds to fall to the river, and I would have been traveling at 160mph (263km/hr) upon dipping my toes in the Colorado river.

I have never — before or since — been blind-sided so violently by a physical reaction. I went from calmly enjoying a spectacular view, to needing to immediately hurry the long distance to the end of the bridge where we had parked.

Noticing new jumps indeed.

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