“Tim, are you sure about this?”
“No problem. I’ve paraglided plenty of times.”
“Yeah, but look at those cliffs. They look pretty steep.”
“I got this, Dave.”

As my friend Tim launches off the cliffs of San Francisco’s Fort Funston, I hold my breath and cross my fingers. I’ll give him this – Tim’s flight is certainly dramatic. After pushing off from his launch point, Tim’s sail catches the wind and he’s abruptly swept into the sky. Angling toward the setting sun, Tim makes a graceful turn to the left, shifts his weight, positions himself parallel to the cliffs, then stages his craft for a soft descent towards the sandy beach spread out before him. Except something goes wrong – I’m not sure what or why – and suddenly my friend’s flimsy contraption is careening out of control, heading directly towards the cliffs. Splat! I rush over to the side of the precipice and yell:

“Tim, are you okay?”
“No problem. I’m climbing up. I’ll see you in a sec.”


When you say “adventure sport,” you probably think of a place like New Zealand, the adventure capital of the world. But cool, urbane San Francisco, home of fine wines and elegant dining, has its own little haven of adrenaline just a mile south of the Zoo and Ocean Beach. Fort Funston is, quite simply, one of the best places on the planet to hang glide and paraglide. With consistently flyable winds year-round, easy access and a ton of parking, the site offers a convenient top landing with stunning views. A former harbor defense installation known as the “lake Merced Military Reservation,” the fort is now a protected area within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The locals are drawn here to hike, to watch the sunset and to let their pooches run off leash in the dog park. Myself, I love coming to Fort Funston with foreign visitors, escorting them up to the cliff-top platform to enjoy the view and to watch the hang gliders do their thing. For the sake of this post, I’d *love* to report my own hang gliding escapade, but sorry folks – I’ve got a fear of heights. No cliff diving for me, thank you very much. I’ll leave that for the adventurers, like my friend Tim.

(A friend of mine in college once urged me to “always do what you’re most afraid of.” I think this is a noble sentiment! It led me to start my own business (Dr. Clue Treasure Hunts), to travel to 40+ countries, to live in Japan, etc. But as far as life mottos go, it has limits. I don’t need to bungee jump, or sky dive, or take ayahuasca. I have a great life and don’t find myself needing to risk it all for an adrenaline rush. Perhaps, though, I can amend the phrase to “always do something with perceived risk.” What makes ropes courses so powerful is that you feel like you could fall from a 50 feet height to your death, but you’re actually safely harnessed in. The fear is perceived, not real. Life is like that, with myriad perceived risks that can and should be challenged. It’s scary to quit my job, but in fact I have a buffer fund to support me. It’s scary to fight with my romantic partner but in fact our relationship is solid and can certainly handle it. It’s scary to cut meat out of my diet and go plant based but there’s a mountain of experts out there who can help me navigate the transition safely. You get the idea. Definitely do what you’re most afraid of – keep pushing your limits – but stay safe out there folks!)