Woods & Water
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.