June 26, 2012 § 2 Comments
On Day Three Hundred Fourteen I joined my friend Melanie for a canopy tour at Lake Lanier Islands, a first for us both. There are a few different options for tours, some all or mostly through the tops of trees, others emphasizing the thrill of zooming down a thick metal cable with only a gloved hand to slow you. Our tour, with its eleven lines built around an old golf course, definitely catered more to the thrill seekers than the leisurely nature lovers.
Our group was small, only six of us, including the two tour guides. We began our journey on the practice course, working on clipping and unclipping our carabiners with a single hand across the cable. Then we climbed a short spiral staircase and zoomed across a zip line, practicing stopping by applying pressure to the cable above us with a garden glove-clad hand. We were ready.
We walked to the first zip line, climbing what felt like hundreds of feet up winding metal stairs, a taut cable acting as the railing. I looped around the post slowly, feeling every gust of wind push me to and fro. I’m not really afraid of heights, but this wavy motion was trying my theory. Once we were at the tiny platform so far up, swaying in the gentle breeze, I tried not to look down and squeezed to the edge, reaching up to grasp a support cable over my head. One instructor lead the way, landing gracefully on the wooden platform a couple hundred yards away. I went next, a little nervous at the idea of jumping from a slowly moving wooden deck and relying on an uncomfortable harness to keep me safe. I leapt with a whoosh and quickly traversed the path to Point B. I braked like we had been taught and was caught by the instructor at the other end.
What a rush.
We did ten more zip lines, and a few stand out in my memory more than others. The second line had us sailing by the lake and was the fastest trip. We were warned repeatedly about making sure to break sooner rather than later. I enjoyed the speed, but could probably have taken more advantage of the speed had the line appeared later in the course.
After that we marched across the “sky bridge,” the most terrifying leg of the tour. My heart raced as I stepped from one wooden slat to the next, the ground dizzyingly far below and highly visible through the gaps between planks. It didn’t help that my carabiner and cable attachment to the wire above me continuously became caught on each joint in the railing. Did I mention how much it swayed??
Two zip lines ranked as my favorites. The first one was a racing zip line, where two riders began at the same time and tried to beat each other to the finish line. Melanie and I took our posts at the top and waited for the word “go.” She had a head start, but I quickly caught up, mostly when she began to brake twenty feet before the end. Maybe it was just luck, but I prefer to think of it as pure zip lining skillz.
The other line I favorited wasn’t a fast ride at all. In fact, it was probably the slowest journey. The fun part arrived when the instructors began pulling up and down on the cable at the end of the line, causing ripples to peal through the wire and my harness as well. All of the sudden I found myself bouncing madly up and down in waves of pure joy. It was like a bouncy castle/trampoline combination on a wire, the only pitfall being the massive harness wedgie I emerged with after the adventure.
At the end of our course, Melanie and I gathered everyone up for a picture. I felt like I had been at an immensely fun day camp, full of exciting childish adventures and experiences. We had made friends for the day, and both left happy with the experience. I would recommend zip lining for anyone who isn’t afraid of heights or fun.