All suited up and ready to ride

All suited up and ready to ride

What’s the perfect outing for someone who has a mild anxiety about heights? Zip lining of course.

My friend Shirley decided she was going to celebrate her 70-somethingth birthday with something new and exciting. She sent out the zip lining adventure invitation to all of her friends. I am the only who was one crazy enough to join her.

BTW: the coordinating outfits were strictly coincidental.

First stop, Wildflour Bread where we rendezvoused with our adventure leader, Tom and the rest of the crazy people who signed up for this zip trip.  If you have ever needed an excuse for a trip to Sebastapol, this place is it. Not for anyone on a diet or the gluten intolerant.

After Tom managed to get everyone organized we headed off down the road to Sonoma Canopy Tours for the main event. Waivers signed and groups assigned, we loaded into the truck and headed up the hill to meet our fate.

Harnesses, gloves and helmets are fitted, then it’s on to the training area. The most important lesson is braking (keep your hand flat and press down on the wire). The hardest part for me, stepping up on the stump to get hooked onto the wire. The first, low altitude training zip went fine.

Then it was up into the trees. And through the trees and by the trees and over the trees. I have a whole new appreciation for “over the river and through the woods”. The first zip line was slow and easy although that wasn’t how it felt at the time. The next a little more of a thrill. The 4th one, maybe 5th was F A S T – whoooo hoo! Then there was a long easy ride but in order to make it all the way to the next platform you have to tuck up your legs and cannonball. Failure to tuck enough results in a long hand over hand into the landing zone. I have enough mass and a good enough tuck that I made it with zip to spare. Another short zip and then a spiral staircase leading to a rope bridge to gain some elevation and the final zip. It seemed to end just as I was the hang of it and could relax on the wire.

Oh shiiiittttt!

Oh shiiiittttt!

Like all good routines, the dismount had a certain zip of it’s own. No easy walk down a flight of stairs. Oh no! We got to lower ourselves (not really rappelling but close enough for me). The expression on Shirley’s face sums up the first moments pretty well. Swinging out to start down was scarier than anything else we’d done.

Mounting and landing on the stump remained the biggest challenge for me. Gimpy knees, thanks to the dog. Ten people huddled on a small platform mounted way the hell up in a tree was a little disconcerting but the population was constantly changing as we hooked on and flew off to the next tree. A brief threat of vertigo while waiting on one of the more flexible trees was overcome by becoming an ardent tree hugger. Once it passed and I picked the bark out of my ears I was fine.

If you want to try it (and I recommend you do, at least once) check out this group: Backroads Wine and Nature Adventures. The organizer, Tom Bold, does an awesome job.

Shirley tells me we’re going sky diving for my birthday. We’ll see.