Woods & Wa­ter

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By Ken Sim­mers

Put some zip in your life!

The dol­drums of sum­mer are ap­proach­ing, and, with them, a lull of ac­tiv­ity. I know, se­niors are grad­u­at­ing and are off to OC or some­where south, but for the rest of us, life could be a lit­tle more fuller. A lit­tle zingier.

So it came to pass that I fi­nally took my first five zip line rides, and I couldn’t have been hap­pier with the fun it en­tailed.

I have al­ways had a fear of heights, so it was time to over­come them. Zip lines aren’t re­ally about heights, al­though when you zip in the desert you cross ar­royos and canyons, so you are a cou­ple hun­dred feet in the air. So it seems high, but it doesn’t seem scary, once you let go. Be­fore that, it’s a dif­fer­ent story.

I went to Ari­zona to visit Jim and Sharon Miller, and Barb and Bob John­son, with whom I used to teach. They all re­tired to a golf course in Tuc­son, Ariz., a few years ago. (Iron­i­cally, none of them golf any more.) It was re­union time once again.

As we ate din­ner at a Mex- ican restau­rant, we no­ticed an ad pro­mot­ing zip lines, so we cow­boyed up and re­served spa­ces for Sharon and me the next af­ter­noon. We were guar­an­teed three rides. How­ever, since we were last of the day, we got to ride all five.

The first was only 10 feet off the ground and about 800 feet long. Good, gets you used to the idea. Sec­ond, a lit­tle faster and longer.

On the third line we saw the fourth one, a sway­ing tower 40 feet high. Both Sharon and I said, “No way!” but there was no al­ter­na­tive. You can’t hike through the desert, down a canyon filled with cac­tus and up the other side with­out some con­se­quences. Be­sides, how hard could it be?

The wind blew at 30 mph or more, and the tower was sway­ing from side to side, and as we climbed it, Sharon com­mented on our san­ity. When I got to the top, the guide said, “Step this way,” then one more step. “Put your toes over the edge next;” that’s when I wanted down. The zip line was in­fin­itely more prefer­able to stand­ing, look­ing 40 feet down over my toes, then an­other hun­dred feet or more to the bot­tom of the canyon.

Fi­nally I got hooked in (so happy) and when I sat down (that’s when your feet no longer touch the plat­form) I took off like a dart. The ride was over 1,500 feet long, but it took very lit­tle time, since I was go­ing over 60 mph.

It was a blast! A real charge! The sud­den stop at the end, not so much. When you hit the end you let go of the han­dle, grab the daisy chain, lean back and push for­ward to slow down. Then you hit the stops at the other end, bounce back over the canyon, and they haul you back in to a step lad­der perched about a foot from the end of the plat­form.

Would I do it again? You betcha!

Each zip line is dif­fer­ent, in length and speed, as well as ter­rain. I would love to do the jun­gle zip in Costa Rica some­time, but would sure like to do Mt. Lem­mon again.


Ce­cil Whig colum­nist Ken Sim­mers en­joys zip-lin­ing for the first time.

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