A buddy and I decided we were going to go camping up in the Sierra Mountains in California for several days. He was a modern dance instructor at one of the larger colleges in the state, and I was the music guy who played live improvised pieces for the dancers to move to. We worked together in a unique and creative way, became friends, and enjoyed each other’s company a lot.
My buddy was from New York City, and he was really looking forward to getting out into nature, doing some hiking, and just enjoying the expansiveness of it all. So off we went in my black van not quite sure where we’d end up, though the national parks were on the list for sure.
A few days into the trip we were sitting around our campfire one night as a couple of girls stopped by and said hi. We ended up talking for a few hours and having a great time as “travelers meeting other travelers.” As they were leaving they asked if we were going to get up early to watch the hang gliders in the morning and explained which mountain top they would be taking off from around 5 a.m. or so. They convinced us it would be worth the drive so we decided to show up and see what all of the excitement was about.
My buddy and I got ourselves up early and drove another several thousand feet higher on a windy precarious road until it emptied into a parking lot. We got out and walked down a short path and then there they were: about 15 people with a bright carnival colored array of body suits in a line getting their hang gliders ready for take off! It was quite the sight as the sun was just peering over a nearby mountain and the golden rays lit up the scene in a mesmerizing way.
We made our way carefully and off to the side of “glider clan” to get a look at the cliff they were getting ready to leap from; “Whoa!” was all my friend and I could say simultaneously. What a drop, and definitely not for me, but I couldn’t wait to see these folks go for it!
And then they started taking off, one by one, with sufficient time and distance in between to keep them from being too close to each other. All you could hear in the stillness was their accelerating footsteps and the gear rustling and breaking the silence. Then poof; they were soaring!! It was breathtaking and exhilarating even just to watch. “What would it feel like to actually do that?!” I thought.
We found out the ones talking flight would have a ride of close to 45 minutes if all went well and then would hopefully land safely in a grassy meadow several miles away.
It was a beautiful clear day well worth capturing, celebrating, and remembering. I’m glad I was a small part of the freedom and joy in the air that impressionable morning…Honey Wind…