Braden­ton tree­top course chal­lenges body and mind en­durance

RSWLiving - - Cover Page - BY KLAU­DIA BALOGH Klau­dia Balogh is an Ed­i­to­rial As­sis­tant for TOTI Me­dia.

state as flat as Florida, couch potato gets climb­ing ex­er­cises by driv­ing in­ter­state en­try ramps.

But for adventure-seek­ers there are views and chal­lenges from above. The TreeUmph! na­ture course in Braden­ton is South­west Florida’s only el­e­vated park. Vis­i­tors strapped into a se­cure har­ness stand atop a 14-acre rope course in the trees, ei­ther zip-lin­ing, walk­ing or climb­ing ob­sta­cles be­tween plat­forms. It is in­cred­i­bly fun and ex­hil­a­rat­ing. It may sound easy—―un­til fac­ing mul­ti­ple chal­leng­ing sit­u­a­tions from up to 60 feet in the air. Ja­son Pit­sas, op­er­a­tions man­ager at TreeUmph!, says many vis­i­tors imag­ine the course as just zip-lin­ing. “Most [vis­i­tors],” he says, “are sur­prised of the scale of what we have and how many el­e­ments the park has.”

TreeUmph! is a se­ries of wob­bly bridges, hang­ing nets, bungee swings, swing­ing logs and foot bridges. The key to nav­i­gat­ing the course is fol­low­ing rules. Vis­i­tors watch an in­struc­tional video, learn park rules and un­der­stand safety pro­ce­dures be­fore latch­ing to har­nesses. Know­ing you’re in con­trol is what makes the trip so much fun.

TreeUmph! is struc­tured to slowly lead clim­bers into more chal­leng­ing heights and lev­els. Pit­sas ex­plains that there are five adult cour­ses. Vis­i­tors start at the demon­stra­tion course, which is only four feet off the ground. The first course is 15 feet up, ris­ing in 10-foot in­cre­ments as the cour­ses ad­vance. And if you did the math, by the time you get to the last course, you will be 50 to 60 feet (six sto­ries) in the air bal­anc­ing on wob­bly bridges and telling your­self don’t look down but, of course, you do any­way. As clim­bers tackle each ob­sta­cle, they will have to take their own phys­i­cal ca­pac­ity into con­sid­er­a­tion, es­pe­cially once they get to the Lead and Sum­mit cour­ses.

Steve and Jen­nifer Hargis have made re­peated vis­its to Tree Umph! Steve Hargis finds the course chal­lenges a great mo­ti­va­tion to stay in shape and keep his fit­ness level up. “You get bet­ter and bet­ter at it, ev­ery time,” he says.

The first time the cou­ple vis­ited they could only get to course 3. Then Steve made it all the way through the sec­ond visit, while Jen­nifer only felt ready for course 4 and 5 af­ter six trips to the na­ture park. “I just said, ‘You know what, I’m go­ing to look at the ob­sta­cles, and I’m go­ing to ac­com­plish this to­day,’ ” she says of proudly ring­ing a bell at the end of the fi­nal Tarzan rope chal­lenge.

Park guide Mary Moora en­sures that all the clim­bers are safe and sound. She says less than half of the clim­bers get through cour­ses 4 and 5 be­cause those are the great­est phys­i­cal and men­tal chal­lenges. At all times there are 10 to 14 guides on the ground ready to help any­one who has dif­fi­culty mov­ing on. Guides have stan­dard first aid and CPR cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, and the train­ing to be able to han­dle ev­ery sit­u­a­tion, give ad­vice or help clim­bers de­scend if needed, Moora says.

Treeumph! wel­comed its first clim­bers in Jan­uary 2013 and is plan­ning to open a sec­ond lo­ca­tion in Her­nando County in late 2016. The idea of Treeumph! Adventure Course was orig­i­nated in Europe, where it was a pop­u­lar out­door ac­tiv­ity in France and Ger­many. Zip-lin­ing, in fact, has been in use for cen­turies to de­liver sup­plies and mail in re­mote moun­tain­ous re­gions. When the con­cept first crossed the At­lantic, it landed in Canada, then in 2007 in up­state New York as the first U.S. aerial adventure park.

TreeUmph! own­ers Aaron and Kathy Corr saw the op­por­tu­nity in in­tro­duc­ing the park to South­west Florida, and they couldn’t be hap­pier with the de­ci­sion. “We had seen a park built by the same builders in Canada,” Kathy says. “We loved the con­cept and en­joyed the course and thought it would be great to do our­selves.”

It’s been re­ward­ing see­ing clim­bers ac­com­plish the cour­ses and hear their feed­back, she says, adding: “Many folks love the chal­lenge and many tell us that they were able to over­come their fear of heights due to the grad­ual in­crease in height as they progress through the cour­ses.”

As clim­bers tackle each ob­sta­cle, they will have to take their own phys­i­cal ca­pac­ity into con­sid­er­a­tion.

TreeUmph! in Braden­ton is South­west Florida’s only el­e­vated park.

Course ob­sta­cles (above) are in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult as har­nessed clim­bers ad­vance. An ex­hil­a­rat­ing zip-line ride to base camp (be­low) re­wards them for their tenac­ity.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.