by Sally Matheny
|The Gorge Zip Line Canopy Tour|
It’s not bike riding.
It’s zip lining—the fastest and steepest zip line in America—and it is a phenomenal adventure for the family.
The Gorge Zip Line Canopy Tour located in Saluda, North Carolina provides 1,100 vertical feet of zip line, 3 tree-mendous (easy and smooth) rappels, and one fun, swinging sky bridge.
My husband, known for his fear of heights, zipped the Gorge several months earlier with his co-workers. He loved it so much he wanted to treat our son, two daughters, and son-in-law to a day of zip lining. He also thought it would be good for me.
I spent the summer of 2014 learning physical therapy exercises for my feet, I’m thankful for the progress made, but zip lining still sounded like a stretch for me. My walking still compares to that of a chicken’s with a little less swag.
Nonetheless, my husband had faith I could do it. Our girls were excited and eager for a fun challenge. However, our ten-year-old redhead and our sweet son-in-law were quiet, deep thinkers en route to the zip line.
I don’t know if it was the unusually cool weather or our nerves that made our knees joggle as our guides cinched up our harnesses.
The heights didn’t concern me. It’s knowing there would be no opportunity to go to the bathroom for four hours. No medical condition exists, it’s just knowing there will not be a bathroom that makes me think I have to go. After three trips, ensuring there was nothing left in the bladder, I was ready to zip.
Harnessed in and triple-tethered with carabiners to a steel cable, one has to feel safe, because “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken,” right?
Right. The guides said we could trust the zip line. Although the weight limit to zip was 250 pounds, they said the cords construction could hold thousands of pounds.
|My Family's Phenomenal Zip Line Adventure|
Our kind and patient tour guides gave instructions. I understood what they were saying, but I wondered if I’d remember them when speeding across treetops faster than a hummingbird.
The excitement escalated as we lined up at the first platform, which the guides called “The Fluffy Bunny.” Awww…who can be afraid of a fluffy bunny?
Amazingly, the somewhat timid ten yr. old is instructed to go first. He climbs on top of a tree stump. His knees bend, straighten, and bend again. He leans forward to jump but leans back again. Still not off the stump, the family begins to cheer him on.
“You got this. You can do it.”
A second hesitation and suddenly he steps off the platform.
A high pitched, whizzzzzzzzzzz….zip.
We can't see the landing platform from where we stand. No screaming or crashing sounds are heard. The guide at the end radios the line is clear for the next person. Oh, good, he made it. What? It’s my turn? If the timid one can do it, surely this will be a breeze for me.
You know that stump can be very deceiving. It appears to be 12-15 inches high but when you step up on it, it feels more like 12-15 feet!
I’m clear to go. I bend my knees but my feet don’t move. Bend, straighten, bend, straighten. Oh, good grief. Why couldn’t they choose another adult to go first? I’m delaying everyone’s fun. Then, I hear the cheers.
“You got this, Mom. You can do it.”
Swaying for a moment, I finally just lean forward and step off. I am like that pig in the commercial who hangs his head out the window yelling, “Whee! Whee! Whee!” I love it!
By the time the whole family reunites on the second platform our knees are still shaking but our eyes are brighter and our smiles bigger. That is until the guides tell us the next zip is named “The Hawk that Ate the Fluffy Bunny.”
|Zip Lining is exhilarating!|
We continue to root for each other and hug every tree together. With each zip, our apprehensions fade into the cool, fall air. Zip lining is exhilarating!
Before we know it, three and half hours fly by. After eleven, fabulous zips, we arrive at the end of the tour.
I hope our family is able to do this again. Zip lining is fun! It's also empowering. We squashed doubts and fears. Together, we learned how to soar.
The hardest part? Leaning out and taking that first step of faith.
The coolest part? Trusting the strong, narrow cable even though it may be eighty feet off the ground. And, even though I can’t see the next destination, I know it’s straight ahead. All I have to do is hold on, lean forward, and trust.
Another amazing addition is the precious people I have encouraging me—those behind me, and those ahead of me in my journey.
Now, because of my experience, I can encourage you. Be strong and courageous. Gather your family and inspire them to stretch beyond their comfort zones. Don't just tell them, show them with God nothing is impossible.
|That's Me--Rappelling & Rejoicing!|
Post Note: I highly recommend The Gorge Zip Line in Saluda, N.C. The staff are very friendly and well trained. The zipping did not aggravate my health issues. You’ll need to determine what works for you. I didn't think it was a jarring experience due to the self-braking system. You aren't on your feet for long periods. The only parts that were sore after the trip were my arms and hands from hanging on so tightly!