While planning our recent roadtrip, my dad sent me a link to an article he found about a new bridge in Gatlinburg that would be opening right before we headed down there – the SKYBRIDGE.
The SkyBridge is the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the US. I texted my dad back and said “We will watch some ppl test it first….also I better not drop my camera off that” (If you read my blog, you know one road trip I broke 2 cameras and a gimbal in 24 hrs.)
We decided we would try to do the SkyBridge first thing in the morning – I think everyone in Gatlinburg had the same idea because the line was as long as Soarin’ in Disney World. I didn’t realize you had to take a chair lift to the top to get to the bridge. I seriously hate those things and really felt like bailing. Dad insisted though so next thing I know I am holding onto the bar of the chairlift with a death grip.
“If I start to slip out of this thing there’s no way I will be able to hold on because my hands are too greasy from the sunblock.” I tell my dad.
Honestly the chair lift wasn’t so bad – it was pretty smooth so I could semi relax and try to concentrate on holding the camera still – I wasn’t sure how much image stabilization worked when your hand was trembling out of fear.
At the top we were directed to see the completely unflattering picture that was taken of us on the way up. Uh – no I don’t want a copy thanks.
We made our way up to the bridge, watching the people cross as we got closer. I was pretty excited – until I heard a lady sitting by the entrance say, “I only made it about 1/3 of the way. It’s awful.” oh my – what did I sign up for? I followed my Dad out onto the bridge – which started to sway with the wind and the movement of the people. After some nervous giggling I seriously started regretting to agree to this. I was frozen in fear clinging onto the side while still trying to video. I tried shuffling my feet forward and told my dad there was no way I could do it. I couldn’t even look up because I felt like if I did I would fall over. My instinct was to get down as low as I could and crawl to the other side – which by the way if you make it to the other side you HAVE to cross it again to get back. I realized crawling would just be downright weird. I managed to glance up at my dad who said in a no-nonsense tone, “Dana, COME ON!” and made a swift motion with his hand to follow. I have heard this exact phrase stated in the exact same way a time or two (possibly more) when I was a kid. I kept shuffling across the bridge, trying not to think about the ground 140 feet below.
I was surprised how scared I actually was – for some reason I didn’t realize how much the bridge would sway. It was a very weird feeling. As I shuffled along someone said to me, “Don’t worry – it’s perfectly safe.” Yeah right, I couldn’t help thinking, that’s what they told the Radium Girls too. (The Radium Girls was the excellent audio book Dad and I listened to on this trip. I highly recommend it. True story of the young girls that painted Radium onto watch dials and clocks in the 1920s. They were told it was perfectly safe – and then they all got cancer and died. So just because someone tells you something is perfectly safe, does not make it so.)
In the middle of the bridge there are 3 glass panels so you can see the ground far below as you walk over them. This was where most of the people were waiting to take a picture – some even laying down. This caused a bit of a traffic jam, but everyone was patient and let each other take pictures before continuing on.
Once you cross to the other side there is a lookout and you can get a good view and catch your breath before continuing back the way you came. On a clear day you can see all the way over to Clingman’s Dome – the highest point of TN!
Once we had our fill of the view we started back to the other side. It was a really hot day and we had been standing in the sun for a long time so we went into the gift shop to cool off before we hopped on the chairlift and headed back down. It was honestly scarier going down because you were facing out at the view and you could see how steep the lift actually was.
But we survived – and actually had FUN! 🙂
Have you crossed the SkyBridge yet? Would you?