We went zip-lining! Aieeeeee!
There were six of us in the group: Kali and myself, two other first-timers, and our two unflappable guides. We drove up the side of a mountain on a rugged little all-terrain vehicle (with the owner’s black lab running the entire way ahead of us, which was adorable) and arrived at the first of nine platforms attached high up in the trees. We climbed a narrow rope bridge to the first platform, then zig-zagged down the mountainside (gravity’s such a handy tool) and eventually ended up within walking distance of the lodge at the bottom.
One of our guides (Adam) launched us from each platform, making sure we didn’t accidentally hang ourselves with the tethering cables or fall off the edge to a rocky death far below. The other guide (Preston) had a somewhat more entertaining job; he was tasked with catching us on the other side, which it turns out is no easy feat. The lines were all constructed with a 3-7% downgrade, so for the most part our own momentum carried us the full distance between platforms. Unless you’re Christy, of course, but we’ll get to that.
On the first half of the line you’re supposed to “ball up” – lean back and bring your legs up to become more aerodynamic. Then the last half or quarter you need to “starfish” – pull up the elbows, thrust out the chest, extend your legs, and do anything else you can think of to increase your air resistance and slow yourself down.
If you came in too hot (which everyone did at some point) then Preston had to apply the “brakes”, leaving you a moment or two to consider the tree flying at your face before you were essentially clothes-lined by the rope, jerking you out of death’s grasp at the last minute. But if you didn’t have enough momentum, well….. you didn’t quite make it to the platform, and you slowly began to drift backwards until you were stranded in the middle of the line. It was a delicate balance; Preston was harnessed to the cable and used his own weight to manipulate the line to try to bring the rider in with more control, and if the rider came in too short he threw a little bag with a rope attached and reeled them in manually.
Except when he was distracted talking to Kali and didn’t have the bag ready.
With less weight than the others, I had to “ball up” pretty much the entire time, but I was down – it was a hell of a lot more fun going fast. But on one particularly long line I relaxed too much at the end and didn’t quite make it, thus beginning the backwards descent. I actually thought it was quite entertaining, but Preston had to come all the way out to the middle of the line, attach my line to his, and pull us both to the end hand-by-hand.
Of course, after that he kept the bag ready, which came in handy when Kali didn’t quite make it to the platform on the next line. Kali caught it with no problem, but after considering his slow progress platform-ward he flipped around and used those long arms to reel his own self in. Very impressive.
Even MORE impressive were the tricks Kali pulled out towards the end. There was one line with a steep enough grade that we didn’t need to worry about momentum, so we had the chance to hurtle through the air in precarious positions. Y’know, in case swinging through the trees on thin steel cables wasn’t interesting enough already.
Of course, the guides do this every day, so they had a whole arsenal of tricks up their sleeves:
I think he’s trying to be a robot? He also did sit ups from an upside-down position (show off) and urged everyone to scream pirate quotes while jumping off the special pirate plank. SHIVER ME TIMBERRSSSS!!
Adam was equally entertaining; I dubbed this one the Dead Starfish. Very compelling.