Friday, November 18, 2011

Zip Zip Zip, From Tree to Tree

amy and me
Have you ever been on a zip line? Last month, when my sis and her family were visiting from Australia, four of us went zip lining in the Nantahala Gorge.

It is awesome. The first thing that happens is that you drive out into the woods. Seeing as you are already out in the woods, this will be a feat in itself. Then some rustic gentlemen help you don a complicated system of nylon straps. That is a novel experience in itself, potentially worth the price of admission. The gentlemen have names like Tbone, Porkpie, Grizzly, and Chad. One of them, perhaps Chad, will be playing an honest-to-God banjo while this is happening.

I liked the strapping-up part. Any safety fears I had went away when we got all that gear on our bodies. (Amy was still nervous though, I think.) Each strap could hold, like, a school bus, and it just feels pretty secure. And I first thought the helmet was unnecessary, but I can't tell you how many times I went on to conk my head against the cable.

Then we had a brief tutorial in how to start and how to stop. Starting is easy. But here's a fun fact: On a zip line, the brake is your gloved hand pushing down on the top of the cable. I was a little worried that there wasn't more technology involved. Push harder to stop faster. Do not grip the cable, however, as then your body will be traveling, quickly, away from your clenched hand, and your shoulder does not like that. I did that once, ouchy.

I had nervous butterflies for the first zip, but then it felt wonderful, not quite Segway wonderful because nothing in this mortal plain will ever feel that good, but still really good. Amy was a little scarified, so every time they would give us instructions or tell us about a line coming up, one of our guides would look at her and say, "Amy, don't freak out." Old Tbone and/or Chad really had an astute grasp on that girl's personality.

Again, look at her selling it.
It's a great squirrel's eye view of the woods, but one tricky part is when you're out in the canopy and all ten or twelve people must stand on a platform the size of your kitchen table, if your kitchen table had a tree growing up through the middle of it. Your safety line is always clipped to a cable, but if you slipped off the edge, it would be a bruising experience.

Zipline platform
40 or 50 feet up.

My Zip Buddy, Brother Dave

zipline view
Up in the trees.
We did this for almost three hours, but I could have gone on longer. I discovered that by leaning way back in my harness and pulling my knees up, I could go faster, though sometimes this sent me in to slow spins that I could not control. And Amy was like, "How do you do that?" And I'm all, "I'm a natural."


After Ziplining

Y'all, if you get a chance to do this, you should. It was great as a way to see the woods, and it was cool to get out and do something new and different with my people. We had lots of adventures that trip, actually. One thing I love about being in the mountains is that the adults get out and play. Aside: One of my favorite mountain memories ever was the time we found some fallen apples and took turns pitching them to each other and whacking them with a bat, just to see who could bust one into the most pieces. Then we went after some old potatoes. Why don't we do stuff like that all the time?

Here's a quick video my brother-in-law Jason took of me on our last zip run, which was about 600 feet. Or was it 600 yards? I dunno, it was really long. Observe my balletic grace. RIGHT?

Zip lining: gentle thrills and a fun time for all.



Amy said...

Yay!! I'm so glad you posted this--it's a post I've been wanting to do and haven't.

It was such a great time. And Blue was the banjo player, remember? And the other guy who was always telling me not to freak was very helpful. I don't know why I was so nervous, but I must say I loved it! And if I loved it, anyone can!!

You were great on the zip, Beck! Such smooth moves. So of course I had to "sell it" on the ground. How else could one compete?

I also want you to know that I totally got that your title is a Backyardigans reference. Sweeeeet.

Formerly known as Frau said...

It looks like fun...I trust you but I'm way to afraid to attempt! Maybe someday!! Great pictures it looks beautiful there.

Elizabeth said...

I would never have even contemplated trying that, but now I am. I think it was the balletic video. You could be the white swan in that horror movie "Black Swan." :)

delaine said...

What fun you guys had! I'm glad you were able to book it and that the weather was fair. That was a great family time in the mountains.

Kate said...

i really need to give that a try even though i am afraid of heights!!!

Aimee said...

Oh, you HAVE to come up this direction, cross the border, and do it in Whistler, BC, Canada! The guides are all kids from other countries, you don't have to brake (THAT would freak me out), and you're in Canada. I would love to do it anywhere, actually. I loved ziplining more than almost anything else in the world. (At certain times of day, that includes my children.)

I never did blog about that, did I? I think I have a new one for the queue...