A while back the opportunity presented itself to go ziplining through the mountains in Asheville, NC. Shannon and I were joining my friend John and his girlfriend Birdie. We met at a McDonald’s early on Saturday morning and piled into the same car to head to a new zipline park called Navitat.
It was a cool morning and the weather was very mild. We registered with the front desk and while we were waiting there was an older couple that came in. They brought this little white dog with them and wanted to know if they could take the dog on the zipline tour. I don’t mean just to watch, they wanted to take the dog on the ziplines. The Navitat employees politely explained that there was no way that was going to happen and the old lady actually seemed annoyed! Who brings a dog and expects to take them ziplining? We joked amongst ourselves about bringing my wife’s chocolate lab next time.
After a short while the rest of our group showed up and they took us back into a room to get geared up and do a safety speech. We had to wear a harness that went around our necks and around our legs. They also gave us a helmet and leather gloves. Here’s a tip for the guys, get the boys adjusted with some extra room or you will wish you had the first time your harness has to support your weight.
Now that we are all geared up we head out back and load up on a people hauler to get up the mountain. It looks kind of like a golf cart with knobby tires or maybe a really long four wheeler. The ride up the mountain was a lot of fun. It wasn’t fast, but it was definitely offroad. Everybody was bouncing all around. We probably looked like we were jamming out to some good metal music the way our heads were bobbing with the bumps!
When we got to the top our guides started explaining the platforms and instructing everyone to always be clipped in to the safety ropes. The only way you could get hurt doing this is to be careless, and I mean very careless. Ziplining is a very safe activity and our guides were methodical in making sure everyone was following the rules and getting clipped in properly.
The first platform was pretty mild. We were only about 10
feet off the ground and it was a low speed zipline. They use this one to help
you learn how to land on the next platform and get the feel for your equipment.
It takes a few minutes to get the whole group from one platform to another, but
once everybody understands how it works the flow gets very efficient. After the
first platform they get better, higher, and faster as you go.
Oh yeah, did I mention that Shannon is afraid of heights? She knew this going in and I was very proud of her for facing that fear and pushing through to get the ziplining experience. When we started she was just a bit nervous, but as the platforms escalated they became more and more difficult for her. She just kept going! Half way through we were about 40 feet up in this huge Oak tree. We could see that the cable went out of the canopy, but the leaves were thick so that’s all we could see. We clipped in and took off. As you come out of the tree canopy the sky opens up! We were literally ziplining between mountain ridges! We were hundreds of feet up in the air and flying very fast across the valley. The view was fantastic! I thought Shannon was going to lose it on this one, but she rocked it out and still managed to have a good time.
We took a few more platforms and then we came to a place where we had to repel down about 25 feet or so. I was excited about this. I have always wanted to repel, but Shannon was definitely NOT excited about this. When you repel you really have to take a leap of faith. Once you are clipped up you have to step out with one foot and pivot around using one hand to steady the rope and the other hand just behind your hip as a brake. John and I went for it with enthusiasm, but Shannon and Birdie had to work for it a little bit. They both started to step off several times and then couldn’t! John and I had a lot of fun watching them beat their fear and accomplish the task at hand.
The next notable feature was the rope bridge. This bridge stretched across a valley and consisted of two ropes for your hands and wooden slats to stand on. The slats were laid parallel across the bridge so they were easy to walk on. There was also a line stretched above our heads that we were clipped into so there was no way to fall. You did have to step carefully to keep the bridge from shaking and twisting. I went in front of Shannon and after I made it across she stepped out. By this time Shannon has had a nerve racking day. She has confronted her fear of heights for hours. This bridge nearly got her. She stepped out and was fine at first. As she made it to the middle the bridge was shaking more, the ground had dropped out from under her and she had to look down in order to see the wooden slats. I know she was scared, but she did it! Her fear nearly locked her movement up. Her feet moved like they were glued to the slats and she had to pull them up with each step. Here arms were pulling forward on the side ropes and her feet were lagging behind. The whole group was cheering her on. She made it across and I could see a swirl of emotion in her eyes when she stepped off that bridge. There was fear, relief, and accomplishment all at the same time!
Times like these make me so proud of her. When someone conquers their fears it is a big deal. So many people in this world miss out on great experiences because they are unwilling to face their fears. It takes a lot of heart to pull off something like this and she did it! After that bridge, the rest was easy.
After the zipline course was done we all piled back up in
the car to head home. We had a great time with great friends and I think
Shannon could even be convinced to do it again!
What I Learned:
- Ziplining is a lot of fun, but the lack of danger didn’t really get my adrenaline going.
- Repelling is easier than I thought it would be.
Proverbs 24:10 KJV "If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small."
I was so proud of Shannon working through her fear. She displayed great strength and courage and she did most of it with a smile on her face! Shannon now knows more about herself and what she is capable of. Getting through that zipline course was a great accomplishment for her. When an opportunity presents itself for you to face one of your fears will you gather up your strength or will you faint in adversity? How would it feel to conquer your fear?
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