Monday, October 28, 2013

I Stepped Off a Perfectly Good Platform to Glide through the Air on a Small Cable

"You are ZIP READY!"

BS! I call BS.

Let me backtrack. For Christmas last year, my husband got my stepson and me (and my husband) gift certificates to go ziplining at Hunter Mountain in New York.

Being procrastinators as we are, and with all the baseball we have between April and October, we finally got around to scheduling that trip for this weekend.

And because we procrastinated, only the Sunday morning 8:30 a.m. time slot was available. After this weekend, the ziplines are closed for a while until the chair lifts open for skiing (because they won't be able to drive a small bus up the ski slopes once they start making snow).

It's about a 3 hour drive, so we left Saturday night and stayed in a hotel near the mountain. Sunday morning, we only had to drive 5 minutes to get to the Zipline Adventures office.

It was a crisp 35 degrees, so we bundled up in layers upon layers. For me that meant long underwear under jeans, two long sleeve shirts, a fleece jacket, my ski coat, thick ski knee socks, hiking boots, hat, scarf, and gloves.

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I felt a little like a kid stiff-walking in a snowsuit. I'm in there somewhere.

We met our guides (Doug, Cesar, and Puma) and they helped us into harnesses and helmets. They shuffled us onto a small bus which proceeded to drive up a blue (i.e. intermediate) ski slope. During the steep and bumpy ride, they gave us some rules: don't touch the carabiners (EVER!), and don't touch the cable.

At the top of the mountain (yes, I said top, as in 1,600 feet high), they gave us a brief lesson, reviewed the rules again, and gave us each a trolley (the piece that hangs from cable to which your harness and carabiners get attached).

They said, "Look at the view! There's your first zip."

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See that curve of lines across the center of the picture that disappears somewhere far away? I looked, then I considered taking a nice solitary hike back down the mountain.

Not wanting to chicken out, I followed everyone else to the first platform and watched as two of the guides zipped across a 3,000 foot line, shrinking to barely visible dots on the next platform.

I stayed in the back as couple after couple was hooked to the pair of cables and given clearance to "zip away."

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Finally, the only ones left were me, my husband, my stepson, and the guide. It was time to go.

I stepped up on the platform and watched intently as Doug looped my trolley over the cable, attached one carabiner, then another, tightened them securely and checked all straps, connections, and that my helmet was secure.

Then he attached my husband to the other cable. I tried to watch, but the cable I was attached to bounced and swayed as the person ahead of me was pulled in (she stopped a bit short of the platform) and released from the line.

My heart thudded double time.

Doug radioed to the guides across way, "We have two and they are ZIIIIIIIP READYYYY!"

No, we aren't. BS. I am not ready. Why would I ever be ready to step off a perfectly good platform to careen across the vast space between two mountains hanging by my hips from a one inch cable? What about that is a good idea?

Cesar radioed back from the other side, "ZIP AWAY!"

Doug unhooked the rope from the gate in front of me (because that little rope would have kept me from falling off the side of a mountain). Then, he unhooked the rope in front of my husband and said he would count us off, but it was okay to wait until we were ready.

"Ready" is kind of interesting word, isn't it?

He counted us off: "1..." I thought about how nice that hike would be down the not-yet-snowy ski slope. "2..." It really wouldn't be much trouble to undo these carabiners. "3..." Oh God, he's at three already. "Zip away!" The longer I wait, the worse it will be.

I lifted my right foot, then my left, leaned back and tucked myself into a cannonball as best as I could.

Then I was moving.

Nothing to do, but go with it. I had left one mountain and the only option was to make it to the next.

The trolley glided along the metal cable sounding like a jet flying overhead. Zzzzzhhhhhooooooommmmm.

I watched the sky and noticed how blue it was. How puffy and white the few clouds were. How happy and calm it looked.

And at such a heart-pounding moment for me!

It was a long ride, but finally the other platform came into view. I was already slowing. There was no way I was going to make it all the way. I prayed that I would at least make it far enough that they could get me by tossing a rope and not having to actually attach themselves to the cable to hand-over-hand climb out and get me.

Puma threw the rope. I reached for it and missed. It swung back to him.

Nooooo, I thought.

He threw it again and I grabbed it, looped it around the handle of my trolley, and waited as he pulled me in.

I thanked him while he deftly unfastened my carabiners and handed me my trolley. I watched for our stepson to come across, which he did, followed lastly by Doug.

Then we moved to the next platform to begin the next zip. I think I was only slightly less nervous the second time.

So we did it all again. This time I could sort of mostly see the other platform and I watched woman after woman get pulled in on the other side. When it was my turn to go, I reviewed the tips for this run with Cesar, then I yet again stepped off a perfectly good platform.

I tucked in a cannonball, focused on relaxing into it, reminded myself to keep my back more horizontal for better aerodynamics. I noticed the blue sky and clouds again. I listened as my husband caught up beside, then surpassed me.

And something cool happened: I made it across. All the way across. My feet touched down on the other platform. I didn't have to be pulled in. No one had to throw me a rope.

"YES!" I said it loud. "I made it across!"

I saw reassuring smiles from the other women, one of whom said Puma had to come out and get her.

After that run, Cesar gave me the title of "Zip Mama." (Or maybe it was Doug. I'll be honest, I don't really remember.)

The last few runs were less nerve-wracking. I learned how to relax into the harness. I tried to take in the views.

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Side note: Look at the picture above, toward the center, you'll see a black dot on a white cloud. That dot is not a speck on my lens or a bird (or a plane or Superman). It is a person ziplining across the first span, as seen from somewhere around zip #3.

We zipped a total of five lines that morning. (Is that how you say it? I don't even know.) I made it to the opposite platform on three out of the five. Not too shabby.

When we were safely back in the warmth of our car, my husband asked if I would do it again.

My first thought was that I felt like that box was checked. Done. No need to do it again.

But, I think I'd like to go again. Maybe just one more time, so that I can try to enjoy that long 3,000 foot run. Because that is a heck of a place to be hooked to a zipline for the very first time. I think I might like to try it again, now that I know how it works.

I feel like I should be having some profound revelation about conquering fear. I'm not.

I'm happy I survived. I'm happy I didn't chicken out. I'm happy I made it all the way across a few times.

I'm happy I dressed warm.

I'm happy I got to see what a ski place looks like when it's not ski season. When it's empty of people, the slopes are green, and the trees splash yellow across the mountainside.

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I'm happy I got to spend time with my husband and stepson.

I'm happy that I have an experience that makes my heart beat faster when I think about it.

And that is good enough for me.

 

3 comments:

  1. I dub thee..... FOUR!!!

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  2. retain up the excellent work about the web site. I kinda like it! Could use some more frequent updates, but im sure you got more or better stuff to do , hehe.

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  3. […] You can see it here, complete with photos: I Stepped Off a Perfectly Good Platform to Glide through the Air on a Small Cable […]

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