Leaf season never looked like this.
Fall in the Appalachians provides a spectacular show as the leaves turn bright shades of gold, orange, and crimson. The colors deepen into richer shades during a short season before turning brown and falling to the earth. In the mountains, valleys, towns or hiking trails throughout the region, the views provide a show that people will travel for miles to see.
While the colorful display normally peaks in early November, the leaves start changing in the upper elevations (3,000 feet above sea level and higher) by mid-October. To see the biggest art show on earth from an entirely new angle, consider skydiving. Yes, skydiving. You’ve never ever seen fall foliage this way before.
Get on Up
JumpTN ,a skydiving center located in Greeneville, Tennessee, can take you up in the air for the best, and highest, view you’ll ever have of the colorful fall leaves. The question to ask yourself is: How adventurous are you?
You get to see the leaves on the way up, of course, but it’s on the way down, in freefall and during the gentle glide once the parachute has deployed, that you’ll really get to see the forest for the trees. From that height, you can literally see for miles during your six-to-seven-minute jump.
Most people might ask why any sane individual would jump out of a perfectly good airplane. Those people have never felt the exhilaration of skydiving. And the bonus of seeing fall foliage makes the sport a feast for all your senses. According to JumpTN’s Angela Alley, October is one of the prime times for skydiving in eastern Tennessee. Spring is the other busy season.
Greeneville, in the northeastern corner of the state, lies in a valley at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains. About 30 miles west of Johnson City, Greeneville is within view of the mountain range separating Tennessee and North Carolina. It’s an area that enjoys a dazzling foliage season.
Two Kinds of Jumps
As a beginner, you may want to sign up for a tandem jump, where you’re safely anchored to an experienced jumper. To make a tandem jump, you must take a 20-minute course for basic freefalling and parachuting skills. Then you’re flown up to 10,500 feet and, securely attached to your jump partner, you get to experience almost a full minute of freefall (it’ll seem longer). Your guide deploys the chute, and you get five to six minutes gliding gently down to the ground for a soft landing on your backside.
If you’re ready for more, try accelerated free fall. You have to take the first jump course, which lasts four to six hours. The course is offered once a month. Then you get to jump along with two certified instructors. You can even pursue a U.S. Parachute Association “A” license, which requires 25 jumps. JumpTN offers both tandem and accelerated free fall jumps, as well as a night jump once a month on the Saturday nearest to the full moon (for licensed jumpers only).
A tandem jump at JumpTN in Greeneville costs $189 booked in advance ($30 more without a reservation). You can even jump again that day or within a week for another $129. If you opt for the accelerated free fall jump, the course costs $60. Your first three jumps, each with two instructors, cost $189 each. Each of your next five succeeding jumps requires only one instructor and costs $169. It’s a bargain for the thrill of skydiving.
You’ve never seen foliage from above the tree line. Even ziplines don’t get this high. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget. And you can get it all on high-definition video. The media package at JumpTN costs only $99 more, and it will capture your expression during your descent. There’s a keepsake to share with your family and friends.
To contact JumpTN, call 423-765-5111 or go to JumpTN.com. In the near future, maybe by Spring 2016, the company plans to roll out hot-air balloon jumping, where getting up to altitude is really half the fun. Book your leaf season jump early, as they are becoming increasingly popular.