Living on the Edge


Vrinda Chauhan, Staff Writer

image002Jessica Chang goes to class, hangs out with friends, dances, works and seems to lead an ordinary life—with the occasional urge to fling herself off a cliff. Chang, a senior at Diamond Bar High school, quenches her thirst for adventure by hiking, cliff diving, skydiving, and rock-climbing.

“I just really love being around nature and going on hikes. It’s so calming and peaceful, and it really helps you clear your mind. When you’re hiking, you mainly focus on the trail and going the right way and not tripping,” Chang said.

Chang began going on these adventures at the beginning of 2013. Feeling depressed, she one day decided to take a walk in tunnels near Grand Avenue Park. In an attempt to temporarily escape from reality, she discovered more of the park, as well as her love for the outdoors. These walks soon became a routine to watch the sunset and clear her mind, and Chang began to grow fonder of hiking.

By April of that year, she sought longer and more intense endeavors, and became interested in swimming in natural-formed pools. This led to a consideration for cliff diving, and in pursuit of it, she went on her first legitimate hike to Sapphire Falls in Rancho Cucamonga. Though she never reached the waterfall, this inspired Chang to continue hiking and exploring nature. Over the course of a few months, she began hiking with friends and her even grandmother, who is also a nature-lover.

Her next adventure was to Hermit Falls, a popular Los Angeles waterfall, during spring break. With the intention of hiking to the falls and diving off the cliff there, she set out with a group of friends. However, upon arriving at the cliff, she wasn’t so certain she wanted to jump down 50 feet into the water.

“I remember walking to the edge of the cliff and the walking back for like 10 minutes. It was really scary to look down and it looked like there was a rock down there, so that scared me even more. I finally had to fling myself off the cliff so there was no way of walking back. It was one of the most exhilarating moments,” Chang said.

Her most exhilarating moment, however, was skydiving. She jumped last year and described it as “floating on clouds.” The adrenaline rush she experienced from this endeavor was unmatched by any other in the past. Falling at 150 miles per hour, her only fear was that she wouldn’t be able to breathe if she looked down. After a minute of free falling, her instructor opened her parachute and she was able to enjoy the view.

Chang hopes to go skydiving more frequently in the future and is even looking to get a license for skydiving so she can go alone. This summer, she also plans to climb onto and cliff dive off waterfalls throughout Malibu and San Diego.

In addition to her nature adventures, she also enjoys archery in her free time.

“I love how it’s sort of a private part of my life that no one else is really a part of. It feels like it’s just me and nature,” Chang commented.