Posts Tagged With: Alaska

Zip line mania

I love zip lining (is that how you say it) or is it, I love to ride the zip lines, or do the canopy tours, or as they called it in South Africa the foofy slide. South Africa is where I had my first opportunity to glide among tree tops.  I saw people do it on TV and heard about fabulous Zip Lines in Costa Rica, but when I got the news that we were going to do it South Africa, I was ecstatic.  Not knowing exactly what we were in for, we drove boldly to the Karkloof Canopy Tour site and presented ourselves for hook up.  The sign we read gave us a laugh, and we were ready to “brace up, take a deep breath and enter the Garden of Eden.”  Me and Indiana Jones.

“Bracing up” was quite the chore, I was thankful we didn’t have to “pack our own chute” so to speak. There was such a combination of straps and hooks, helmets and gloves that I got very confused.  Before we got to the first line, one of the guides went over all the do’s and don’ts. He was speaking English, at a rapid pace and in a very South African dialect, all that to say, the only word I understood was platform and it punctuated nearly every sentence he said.

The first 3 seconds of just walking off a platform and going straight down was a first time adventure, that I was totally unprepared to face, actually, I couldn’t do it. I had to sit on my butt and scoot off the edge. By this time, however, I did trust my harness and was quite comfortable in the apparatus.

This zip was the longest line we did in SA.  Coming out of the forest and landing on this platform was a sight to behold and worth any anxiety I had.  This is the profile of one of our competent guides who helped us to come onto the platform safely.  Happens to be one of my all time favorite pictures and it hangs in a large frame in our bedroom.

On this tour we had to actually hand break at just the right time to come onto the platform at the right speed. Dick was a pro from the beginning.  I got stuck out from the landing one time for breaking too soon, and the guide had to come to rescue me. It was painless, but the whole breaking thing made me nervous. From then on I rode piggy back with a guide who took over the break and I got to look for monkeys and enjoy the scenery.  The ride is over pretty quick and there is not much time to look for any of the above mentioned creatures.

Gina conquered her fear of heights and braced herself for the enjoyable ride, literally swinging through the trees.
Several years later, in Alaska, the opportunity presented it self again.  Between 2005 and 2011 things had changed around the zipline community. The hand break was gone, but something a lot more scary had been added. To increase the adventure, I found myself walking on high swinging bridges from one tree to the next before getting to the excitement of the zip.  I am glad the guide demonstrated how the harness would catch you if you miss stepped, but really, who wants to do that?  You can do it, but it takes a lot of concentrated effort, at least it did for me.

The bridges were high and the platforms were small. We had to do some serious ‘tree hugging’ to make it around to the edge where, with no help or touch, from the guide, you had to step off into mid air to be on your way. The only thing that gave me the courage to do so was that I was there, and everyone was waiting for me, encouraging me to take that first step.

Here I am making my way gracefully across the rope bridge, hanging on for dear life, but no slips and therefore no need for the harness, but grateful it was there.

All kidding aside, Skagway, Alaska was a thrilling but frightening experience.  Glad I did it though.  It made this one in Pennsylvania a piece of cake.

On this one line across a valley you just had to walk until your feet left the ground and go. NO FEAR!! Here I come!
When our Thailand mission team learned that the largest Zipline in Asia was located near Chaing Mai, we wanted it on our agenda.  Thirty-five lines and a full day with lunch included for 100 extra bucks, we were in.  Even those who, at first, had no interest or had never done it before were so excited to come on board and everyone, as you can see here, had a great time.

With some experience under our belt, Dick and I both felt that this was the best and most user friendly line we had encountered.   We had not discussed the bridges, but they were all easier than Alaska’s.  Emily’s expression gives words to our feelings.  “YIKES!”

The Zip Line is called Flight of the Gibbon and it is advertised all over the city. This treat to your sense of adventure should not to be missed if your are ever near beautiful Chaing Mai.

Here is the closest we got to the mighty Gibbon, he was hanging around a set of trees where there were no zip lines. While taking a short break, we got to walk over and have a look. Believe me there are no monkey sightings while zipping.

The quality of the picture tells you that this is no close up.  The Gibbon doesn’t really like to be disturbed, and it look to me like he is wearing sunglasses.  Maybe not.

We hung around in very tall trees ourselves.  The 35 lines were all different, high, lower, longer and you could always sit in your harness before taking off, so much easier than stepping off the platform on your own power.

This time it wasn’t me who got hung up on the line and had to be rescued.  Steph was a great sport about it, while we all stood around taking pictures. The look on her face is one of doubt.  She really doubted that this lone rescuer could do the job.   She was right.

If you want to know the truth, this picture describes the way I really felt about the Flight of the Gibbon zipline. Need I say more?
I love how their evaluation form translates to please complain.  In my language, all I can say is— Not a chance.
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