Published: August 14th 2011August 14th 2011
Before I start on the cool adventure known as canyoning, let me first start with one of the annoyances of Switzerland. I know, who would have thought there would be anything annoying about Switzerland, but I am certain that you will side with me after you hear about this.
Reading a book on buses in Switzerland is impossible. Besides the beauty of the countryside that captures your attention, tunnels not made to have sufficient lighting to read books infest all of Switzerland. You might be able to read for about five minutes before you enter another tunnel without sufficient book reading lighting. This should not be a big issue - tunnels are great. I hope to live in a tunnel one day just to show my love of tunnels. It becomes a big issue when these tunnels happen with such frequency that it disturbs the flow of your book. And some of these tunnels last about 23 seconds, some 2 minutes and if you can believe it even 2 minutes and 23 seconds. And then you come to the beast of all tunnels, the San Gottardo tunnel which is about an 18km tunnel and takes about 15 minutes to pass through. How can you read a book in Switzerland in a vehicle when you have to pass through many of these tunnels? (Have I mentioned they are not sufficiently funded with light for book reading?) Impossible I say.
Now on to the adventure. Canyoning can be described as wading through river water, sliding down waterfalls, jumping off waterfalls and rappelling down waterfalls. You gear up in a wet suite, helmet, special water/rock shoes and a harness and expect to be in water the entire time. Our group slowly prepared for the big waterfall by rappelling down smaller ledges into a river, using a smaller waterfall as a water slide (the water smoothed out the rock underneath it to the point where it was literally like a water slide!) and jumping off of a ledge into a deep part of the same river. Then we came upon the big guy. Our guide, in his thick Swiss-German accent, was describing the next part of the course when he suddenly said, "Ok I go" and turned around and jumped off the rock face into the waterfall and river below. This waterfall was probably around 30-35 feet tall. I stepped up to the plate and the other guide said, "Just jump out as far as you can so you don't hit the rocks." "Ummm, ok." If our first tour guide, who was probably in his early 60s can do it, then this strapping 26 year old can do it, too. What a cool feeling to jump off a ledge where you are unable to see the landing spot and meeting the bottom of the waterfall with the river below. We could also rappel down the waterfall (with our feet in the actual waterfall) into the water below. I was unable to do this because I was stationed at the bottom of the waterfall to catch students before tumbling down the next waterfall which might have seriously injured and/or killed them, no big deal. Then we could actually slide down the waterfall as if we were riding a water slide at a water park! The highlight of the entire trip! I felt pure Goonie. Though there was no pirate ship at the end of this ride, it was still very exciting.
The trip ended with a walk down the mountain and a leisurely stroll through the cobblestone streets of this very quaint, German looking town. The locals only looked at us briefly as though seeing humans wondering by their 14th century church in full canyoning gear (wetsuits, boots, helmets and harnesses) were normal.
Thank you Switzerland for another adventure!