Once we hit a certain age, I think we all start to examine our lives and realize we might be at the top of the hill and there’s nowhere but down from here. I’m hoping to take a leisurely, smooth roll down from this point. At the same time, I find myself wanting to tackle things that I have historically stayed away from—activities like ziplining at somewhat alarming heights. So when I ran across a good deal for the aerial park in Frankenmuth I grabbed it, not fully aware of what it might entail.
If you’ve read my columns in the past, you may have seen the one about my experience of being somewhat stranded on Mt. Baker in Washington and enduring an emergency zipline rescue, you would know ziplining might be a little traumatic for me. It’s a great story. I wrote about it back in the Sept. 20 and 27, 2017 issues of the Tri-City Times. It even got me the 2018 best columnist award from the Michigan Press Association and I’m convinced it’s really because of the story line. It was a harrowing experience and widely told. It became part of an article about glacier instability in The Planet Magazine; you can read that story here https://theplanetmagazine.net/the-boom-4978719424da if that kind of thing interests you.
So I thought well, let’s try ziplining under controlled circumstances.
It was fun but stressful for me because it wasn’t just some professionals hooking me up to a harness and letting me zipline through the trees. It was more like a scene out of Fear Factor where we had to use our balance and agility to get from tree to tree to even get to a zipline. Now take away the fear of actually falling 35-40 feet because you are harnessed and always attached to a cable so even if you did misstep and go to fall, the harness and cables wouldn’t let you fall far. Apparently, to my brain that didn’t matter because I kept going through the what-ifs in my mind. What if that cable has just had enough and snaps from my weight ziplining from here to there? What if one of my harness straps fail? And maybe I won’t fall but what if I miss my landing and face-plant into the tree? LOL. It was never ending.
Needless to say, after conquering the easiest course designed for 7-year-olds and graduating to one of the tougher courses, I began to sweat a little, probably due to the increased heart rate and constant physical presentation of stress in my body. Meanwhile, my husband is telling me how awesome this is, and my bestie Shawn is rappelling off trees at 35 feet up grinning ear-to-ear yelling, “Whooohoo, look at me! This is so much fun!” While I’m literally shaking in my shoes.
I have no sense of balance, never have. I didn’t know I’d be walking tightropes, or stepping on small stumps of wood independently strung together to make for one shaky walk up high, or climbing 10 feet up a tree off of a platform that is already 20 feet high so yeah, what was I thinking? I only swore out loud once. And I apologized, but I was coming in hot off a zipline into a tree and landing on a two-foot wide platform surface. It was kind of scary for me. (Pan to me wearing a “But did you die?” t-shirt. Yes, that is what I heard I needed.)
But it was nothing like ziplining over a raging mudslide rock river 10,000 feet up Mt. Baker on a zipline that was thrown over a river and tied to a tree and a bush, knowing that if anything failed you would certainly face death.
I’m glad we went though.
Face your fears and live while you are alive, I say. When I am ready to leave this Earth, I will be able to say this life has been quite an adventure. It certainly has.
Email Paula at paulaparisot@gmail.com.