The other day I was at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma, WA. and discovered that they have a Deep Forrest Challenge Adventure course there. For the last couple of years I’ve thought that zip lining would be really fun, but due to my weight and general health never thought I would ever do it.
I have lost 50lbs in the last 2 years so I looked in to the requirements to see what else I needed to do. Turns out all I needed to do pay them money, I was already under the weight requirements. Yea! Ok. Lets do it!
I thought that it was just going to be the Zip Line, but it was an aerial adventure course. While it seemed very high, it was only about 30ft. off the ground. I wish I had some pictures oft he course, but i was not able to any before, during or after. I will do my best to describe what I saw and did for the most memorable obstacles.
This is the DFC at Northwest Trek. This course is a little different because it is bigger but, it will give you an idea of some of the challenges.
There was a solid thirty minute training session to go over safety, getting on and off the lines and using the zip pulley. The harness has two clamps on long cables that use a magnetic closure system that requires one of the clamps to be in a closed position on the guideline at all times, so you are never completely loose from the course until you exit and then there is special short unconnected piece of cable that allows the clamp to close enabling you to slide it off the guideline.
I’m starting the course and looking at this 20 foot wall with holes in it thinking “go big or go home” may have just bit me in the ass, but I was here and I was at least gonna try. I scaled that wall. Remember that harness we talked about, I was safe and I was never afraid of falling, so I reached for areas that were a little farther away. I have long legs and I intended to use them.
After the wall were several bridge type obstacles with different bases. One all rope and one small logs strapped together and both suspended between different platforms. I’m thinking “ok, so far so good”. One small step, for me, on a Tarzan swing (yes, put your foot in the loop and swing) and your on the next platform looking at a tightrope that looked longer than it probably was.
Ok, this one I really thought I might fall even though there was the overhead guideline you were connected too as well as two elbow high guidelines on either side of you to hold onto. I started out slow and found the tightrope was taut and a little shaky. However as I got towards the middle it became quite slack and very shaky and I realized right then that it was not completely about getting through the course, it was about how you approach the challenge. Any challenge. I reminded myself to keep my shoulders back, back straight and chin up. Balance really is a by-product of good posture. Across we went. I have a new respect for high wire acts.
After that it was the first zip line. All I can say is… WOW. To be totally suspended in the air. It was amazing. It was a short zip and I did not have time to get my feet into position to make the next platform. The gentleman ahead of me offered a hand to help onto the platform, but I passed with a thank you, I needed to attempt it on my own first. Turns out he was a reservist who totally got it and stood by while I pulled myself backwards up the line and onto the platform. Don’t forget, I’m suspended and the only thing in reach is the guideline above my head. It was eye opening to succeed at that. The guy was smiling so big.
A few more variations of rope ladders and bridges later we were to the second zip line. This was much longer and I had plenty of time to get into position and I made the platform with a smooth little bump as this platform was slightly lower than the one you had just left. It was exciting and you are zipping downwards and a little faster than the first one. My friends were at the bottom watching in amazement.
One last bridge to go and the end was in sight, which was good because I was starting to get tired and my stamina was waning. The logs that made up this bridge were individually hung from above and not to connected to one another. Hmmmm. The guide on the ground said it would be easier (not easy, just easier) if I could walk straight across one foot after the other. That is right foot log 1, left foot log 2, right log 3 etc. Hmmm. Ok. I wobbled. A lot. I got across without falling. Score.
So now I’m standing at the end of the course feeling an incredible sense of accomplishment. I did it. OMG, I really did it! Now, I wanna do again, but bigger. I’m working to increase my stamina so I can take several of the guided canopy tours of some of Washington’s flora and, hopefully, some fauna.
Go out there, do something new. Be spontaneous. Surprise yourself. You’ll be glad you did.