Jeremy Markovich: Cody Adams takes a drag off his cigarette, and looks over at Andy Smith.
“You scared yet?” he asks.
“Definitely scared,” Smith tells him. “I’m trying to convince myself that I’m not.”
“It’s good to be scared,” Adams says.
Adams and Smith stand in the fog in the middle of the 3,030 foot-long New River Gorge Bridge, in the dark blue of an October dawn in West Virginia, 876 feet above the water below. Adams is skinny, with a gray hoodie, a shaved head and camouflage pants. Smith wears his long brown hair pulled back into a ponytail. He flashes a nervous smile through his beard. Both of them rode down from Pennsylvania with a group of 10 people. They drove six and a half hours to be here.
“This is definitely a BASE jump,” Smith states, with a tense laugh.
“Yes. It is,” Adams says, dryly.
Around them, the other BASE jumpers are setting up metal barricades, staircases and everything else they’ll need to make Bridge Day work smoothly. Next to them is the flatbed truck that holds up the platform they’ll jump from later. A photographer looks at the bucket he’ll be standing in all day — it’ll swing out over the edge so he can get shots of jumpers coming right at him. His will be one of four cameras that capture every jump, generating about 25,000 images in six hours.
Smith has already looked over the side of the bridge 10 times. Adams puffs on his cigarette. This will be Adams’s second BASE jump. It will be Smith’s first.
Adams was here the year before he went to basic training at Ft. Sill. The first time he jumped from the bridge, in 2011, he threw his pilot chute before his feet flew over the edge. This year, he wants to do a backward somersault. A gainer.
“Kinda cold out here,” Adams says, and lights another cigarette.