What a gorgeous weekend! Fall has definitely arrived here in Maryland. The leaves have finally changed color, and there’s just so much natural beauty everywhere you look. The weather has been fantastic, and it’s supposed to be in the mid 70s all week. I really can’t complain!
Remember that summer bucket list that I made back in June? Well, I finally checked something else off of it this weekend: ziplining! Our friends had given us a gift certificate for a “Zipline Canopy Tour” through River Riders as a wedding gift (back in July of 2011!) and we finally used it this weekend. I don’t know why we waited so long- but I’m kind of glad we did, because we couldn’t have picked a more perfect day!
I rushed home after teaching Spinning class on Sunday morning, quickly showered and headed right back out the door to drive to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. Neither Greg nor I really knew what to expect from the whole zipline experience. We figured that we’d do a few different ziplines and maybe some kind of rope bridge, but were excited to find out what exactly was in store for us.
We started by meeting up with our tour guides, Jesse and Joe, who went over the safety procedures with our group (which was eight people total). We got harnessed up, put on our helmets, and took a short bus ride over to the zipline course. We went for a little hike up to the first zipline.
The first zipline was really short, and we just kind of stepped off of a rock to get going. It was a little awkward initially (just not knowing what to expect), and I felt just a little bit shaky.
But, by the time I landed on the first platform I felt like I got the hang of it. You just had to be careful not to slam right into the platform, and the guides were there to help for a safe landing.
Greg going across the first (mini) zipline:
As we went through the course, we got higher up, and went along several different ziplines.
Here’s a little video of me coming in for a landing, courtesy of Greg (I said “bam!” after I landed, but Greg stopped recording before I finished saying the word. :))
There were a few different (5 or 6?) tall ladders that we also had to climb up to get to various platforms.
If you have a fear of heights, you might have a hard time with this course.
To go faster, you basically had to tuck yourself into a “cannonball” position. To slow down, you extended your arms and legs out wide, which our guides called the “flying squirrel.” The flying squirrel was helpful at the end of the line to keep from slamming right into the platform.
We got up to about 75′ at the highest point. I get a little shaky on unstable surfaces (or like, the edge of a cliff) when I’m high up, but the key was to just look AHEAD and not DOWN when you were about to take off from the platform.
I got bolder as the course went on, and eventually was able to leap right off the platform from a standing or running start (rather than just stepping off). It was a lot of fun! The course runs right along the Potomac river, and the views were spectacular! You can see Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia from this spot.
Beautiful fall color
In addition to the ziplines and the ladders, there were also two different bridges (one in the beginning and one later on). For the first one, we had to walk along a series of planks.
That one wasn’t too hard, but where the planks were placed further apart, it was definitely a bit more challenging.
The second bridge was quite different. It was just a thin (but strong) cable that you had to walk across. In order to not fall right off, you had to angle your feet in a certain direction to keep balance. It was definitely tougher than the first one, but we all pretty much charged through it!
When we reached the final platform, we had to go through a square opening and rappel down.
This photo hurts my eyes.
There I go!
The zipline canopy tour was so much fun! The entire tour took about 2 1/2 hours, but seemed to fly by! Apparently it can take up to 4 hours, depending on how many people are in the group (I think the maximum can be 15) and how long people take to get through each “obstacle.” Luckily, everyone in our group was pretty speedy and fearless, and made it through without any problems. And our guides were wonderful. Joe kept us entertained by telling jokes (seriously, I don’t know how one person can memorize so many jokes) and both he and Jesse made us all feel safe and did their best to make sure everyone had a great time.
We had originally planned on going for a hike up to Maryland Heights afterwards, and eating our packed lunch at the overlook. But, by that time (almost 2:00) we were both hungry and pretty beat, so we just drove over to the local park and had a picnic instead. Sometimes it’s just better to relax.
Luckily, Greg happened to have a blanket in the back of his car!
What an amazing day! I highly recommend using River Riders to do a canopy tour if you live anywhere near the DC metro area (or points north)- you definitely get your money’s worth!
Today is the last day to enter the Kombucha Brooklyn Home Brew Kit giveaway- get on over there if you haven’t yet!
Have you ever been ziplining (or anything similar)? Do you have a fear of heights?