If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you?
Apparently I would, or rather, I did. Up until that point I usually made a point of not following the crowd but rather doing what I wanted or what I considered right.
Apparently, my usually strong sense of individualness was left beind with my forgotten umbrella that day.
Dalwood Falls is a waterfall, natural pool and weir located on Ballina Council land near Alstonville in New South Wales (see pictured right). The pool is surrounded by high 10-ish metre rock faces, forming clifts in almost a perfect circle around a relatively deep pool of lovely swimming water.
Apparently, the done thing is to jump from one of many possible "spots" up on the clifts.
During a camping trip with a few friends one weekend (a few years back), we decided to go to the Falls. The others were planning to "do" the jump but I declined as I have a (mostly) risk averse personality and a convenient excuse for getting out of almost everything, being my (considerably) bad eyesight. If I was at all inclined to jump I would want to see what I was jumping into, ie. whether that white blurry thing was light refracting off the water or a very sharp rock jutting up out of it.
One of the others was afraid of heights and also declined to participate, and on that basis, once we had hiked the short distance to the Falls, I was feeling fairly comfortable to undress and lie on a warm rock in my bathers. That was, until Mr Afraid of Heights decided to jump. In an all too spontaneous moment I too decided to jump. I removed my glasses and peered over the edge, squinting suspiciously at the bits of white down below. "If you think about this, you won't do it, just jump and don't be a 'fraidy cat", said the not so nice part of myself. So I did.
You may not know (and I certainly didn't) that it actually takes quite alot of time to fall 10-ish metres through the air. I figured I needed to pull my legs up fairly quickly after hitting the water, but after jumping from the ledge decided I'd prepare to pull up in advance. I hit the water in an almost sitting position. It hurt, but not too badly. I climbed out of the water and made my (horibbly scary without glasses and in bare feet, is that a leaf or a rock?) assent back up the clifts (via a ridiculously steep and winding dirt path) to rejoin my belongings above.
I quickly noticed it was actually very difficult to sit down without being in quite a lot of pain. Once my full weight was on even the softest of chairs it was still quite difficult to sit comfortably and even more difficult standing up (you would not believe the number of muscles located in your bum that you use to rise from a seated position). During the period that followed I found it near impossible to sit on a bus. Of course, as there was no crying in agony or anything, I didn't see my doctor and the pain continued for at least an entire month, and then only completely abated after many more.
So no, I wouldn't jump if everyone did, but in the past I have! I have since been reacquainted with the risk averse part of my personality.
Of course, the most infuriating part of the whole experience was a handful of people who (not having ever been to the Falls) insisted the actual height of the rock face couldn't have been more than 3 metres. Although, the fact that I couldn't sit down without pulling the I'm-in-extreme-pain face (whilst unpleasant for me) was the cause of ongoing raucous laughter (which I always enjoy, even at my own expense).