If you’re like me – you love nature, but you’re pretty much afraid to do anything dangerous – a trip to River Island State Park in Arizona may be just the thing you need. There are a few things you’ll need before setting out: sunscreen, camping supplies, a lifejacket, good water shoes (there are a lot of rocks and Zebra muscles, which are very sharp), and someone who is braver than yourself. Trust me; the last item is a must.
The campsite, which is right next to the Colorado River, has full hookups for RVs and great facilities with hot water for showers. It’s nestled between mountains, so you’re completely cut off from the outer world – which can be a nice break. The rocky mountains extend into the water, creating a cove off the main river.
On a hot Arizona morning, the best thing to do is to change into your swimsuit and jump into the water. The cool water is refreshing and will wake you up quickly. Next, the lifejacket and brave friend come into play. On the left side of the cove, on the mountain that extends into the water, a path has been worn into the rock that leads to a little shelf – the perfect place for jumping.
The only way to get out there is to swim against the current over a patch of seaweed, so the trip over is half the battle – but also half the fun. The brave friend is needed, because the encouragement to keep going needs to outweigh the desire to stop swimming and let the current pull you back. And when you get there, they need to do something else – climb up and jump off before you even start climbing. Seeing someone else jump helps, and you shouldn’t start climbing until you’re sure you’re going to jump – once you’re up, there’s no turning back.
One thing about seeing others jump after an exhausting swim – you start to feel like you swam out there already, so why not jump? Tip #1- when climbing, focus on the rocks in front of you and don’t look back. It makes it easier to climb and if you have a fear of heights, it won’t kick in.
When you get to the shelf and look out, you do notice the height. It’s about ten feet up, but for me it felt more like twenty. My brave friend was my boyfriend – he stood behind me and talked me through it, breaking through the fear.
Tip #2- just jump! Once you get through the fear, don’t double think it. The feeling is exhilarating – for a few seconds, you’re flying through the air and it feels like forever before you hit the water. And once in it, all you have to do is wait for the lifejacket to bring you to the surface.
After my heart calmed down, I realized how much fun it actually was. The rush, the thrill of jumping… it was like nothing I had experienced before. It may not have cured my fear of heights, but what it did give me was a sense of pride in jumping when I had promised myself I wouldn’t. And who knows, after a few more jumps, I’ll start focusing on the fun instead of the height – and maybe you can too.
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