I’ll admit I’m an adrenaline junkie. I love roller coasters, harbor some ill-advised motorcycle fantasies, and love a good and fast ski run. But as a notorious klutz, I tend to stay away from activities that actually involve free-fall. Just running down the stairs often ends in injury, so if you’d told me a few months ago I would willingly strap myself into a small canvas harness, clip on to an impossibly thin wire and launch myself off the side of a mountain, I would have said you were crazy.
But when a LivingSocial Adventures (love them!) deal popped up advertising a Zipling trip in the Catskills for cheap, I was intrigued. I cajoled and pleaded my good friend and fellow cubicle denizen Emma into joining me and before I could over think it, we booked the trip. (Crucial tip for leaving your comfort zone: rope a friend in so you can’t back out! This also holds true for dieting, exercising, speed-dating, and buying spec-tacky-ular sequined dresses you will only wear once…)
So on a gorgeous October morning, Emma and I showed up bright and early to meet our bus in midtown Manhattan. With two hours to kill on the ride up to Hunter Mountain, we got more and more nervous the closer we came to our destination. I was really anxious about not wearing the proper ziplining gear, but ended up being comfortable enough in yoga pants, a sweatshirt, gloves and sneakers. If you go on a similar trip, definitely shoot for comfort and warmth; no matter how toasty it seems on the ground, the wind will cut right through you once you’re up high. And gloves make it much easier to hang on for dear life when your fingers are freezing!
When we got off the bus, we were sorted into groups and began the looong process of getting into our gear. Some helpful guides from Zipline Adventure Tours suited us up in a fancy harness, several industrial-strength carabineers and a dashing red helmet. Then it was a slow ride up the chairlift to the top of the mountain to get oriented and get zipping!
I was running on adrenaline up until this moment, laughing and talking excitedly with the rest of the group but when we got our safety lecture, I started to freak! The trick to zipping at high altitudes is folding into an aerodynamic position to successfully make it between platforms. If you spread out too much, the wind resistance will slow you to a halt. Stopped in midair, dangling hundreds of feet above the ground suspended only by my harness did NOT seem like a good time.
Heart pounding, hands shaking, I stepped up to the platform for the first zip. Emma was on my right – we’d be pushing off and zipping at the same time on two different lines. At the count of three and the all-clear from the guide, we ran down the platform, pushed ourselves off the edge and flew down the wires.
This was definitely my least agile take-off for the day, my feet scrambling over the edge, barely pushing off the platform. I folded myself up into a little ball, legs bent and supported away from my body (thank YOU Pilates class! Core strength was definitely a plus for this), arms clinging to the hand-hold above my head. Sadly, I did stall out on the first zip – my worst fear! – but it wasn’t too bad. I was only a few yards away from the destination platform, and a guide spider-monkeyed out on the line to pull me in before I had a chance to get scared.
The adrenaline rush from the zip was INTENSE! My fear of hurtling to my death ebbed away, and I could enjoy the thrill of flying down the remaining four zips and the distinct sense of bad-assery at being a real zipliner.
As we progressed down the mountain from platform to platform, the elevation decreased, so there was less wind resistance to worry about. After the first two zips (where you had to worry about folding yourself as compactly as possible to make it across), you could spread out, let your legs dangle, spin around and enjoy the gorgeous fall panorama.
Towards the end of the day, it started to drizzle and our last zip through some very solid looking birch trees was a soggy affair. But the cold and the wet didn’t dampen the excitement – Emma and I boarded the bus with big smiles! All in all, a fantastic day, and definitely made me want to explore more adventure opportunities. Bungee jumping anyone?