Ziplining wasn’t on my bucket list. When life presents you with an unexpected opportunity to do something you hadn’t planned for, I call it the Sieve List–those moments that demand “In or Out, you have five seconds to decide.”
My friend Susan is a master of seizing the moment. When my other friend Beth had talked me into The Zip, we agreed to meet at 2 pm outside our mountain lodge to drive down to the start point. Susan arrived to check in just as we were about to head out, and when I ran over to hug her hello, I joked, “I’m going on the new zip line in the park, so just wanted to hug you goodbye before I go.”
She said, “Wait a sec,” reached in and grabbed her purse, and climbed into Beth’s car. Susan doesn’t let any moments go by.
The first thing you need to know about ziplining is that the stool is scarier than the line. You go out on these tall platforms jutting off mountains, but not before the guides (in our case Tim the humorist and Dalton the straight man) hook you to a wire, to themselves, and at one point to a concrete block. You cannot fall off. It feels safe. But then they ask you to mount the stool (named for what it inspires people to do, joked Tim) and it’s high. Like two whole feet straight up. And you feel like you’re scraping the sky with your head, and there’s nothing to hold onto–unless you do like Beth and grab Dalton, but hey, he was cute. Then you’re standing on this tiny platform in the middle of the air–
–and catch your first full view of where you’re going. On the inaugural run, I was last. Just in case I wet myself, no one would see from behind, y’know? Once I got up on the stool and had a death grip on the tree behind me (Dalton having learned his lesson from Beth and keeping well back) I looked down into the gorge and thought, “Nope. Never mind. Changed mine.”
I looked back at Dalton, who was busy doing something with a big hook that looked all tangled in a rope. “Does anyone ever yell a terrible curse word as they launch?” I asked him.
He shook the hook and frowned at it, then glanced at me. “Haven’t seen that yet.”
“I’m surprised,” I muttered, staring at the canyon, and the thin, thin, wire spanning its deep, deep crevice.
“Well, it’s my first day, ” Dalton responded, and clicked the carabiner into place above my head. “You gonna jump or lean and slide?”
He gave me a thumbs up. “You got this. When you’re ready to go….”
Bad word choice, kid. I checked that my conscience was clear with God, prayed for world peace, and jumped. Figured if it was my time, I should go big.
Here are some things you find out the first time you zippidedoodah. If you let go of the handles, you spin. If you stick your legs straight in front of you, you go faster. And if you keep your eyes open, you see the most amazing views. It was such fun, sliding over the water a few hundred feet below, watching it sparkle in the sunlight.
We got two more chances to practice the cannonball (tuck your knees to your chin) and starfish (let go and spread your arms and legs wide, screaming optional). It got easier with each jump–for the jumpers. Tim told us one of the things guides watch for is when people get cavalier or casual, and they don’t let anyone take anything for granted. It was Check One, Check Two, Zip Ready, Zip Go all the way down the lines.
If you get the chance to go zipping, I recommend it. And keeping your eyes open. You see the world in a whole new way.