July 22, 2013 Monday
Today I learned that ziplining can be awesome fun! I had a vague idea what ziplining was (from watching the movie Medicine Man several years ago), and I knew that it was becoming a popular recreational activity. A couple of months ago, in thinking ahead to this trip, it occurred to me that there ought to be some ziplining companies operating in this area. It also occurred to me that with E’s whole family along, including a couple of adolescent boys, we should be able to find at least a couple of willing souls to give it a try. So earlier this month I had done the research and located what looked to be a highly regarded company, Smoky Mountain Ziplines. Four of us had reservations for 10:00 this morning.
Here’s the scoop. This company has 9 different “lines” set up on a single mountainside. They truck you to the top of the mountain. The first couple of lines are short and not very steep. They use these to train you. There are two guides with your group: one at the beginning and one at the end of each line. The end of one line generally is right next to the beginning of the next line. (It’s a bit like a golf course in that sense.) After you get the basics in those first two short lines, the lines are longer and steeper. You are fitted up with a harness that has a detachable pulley. (It detaches from the zipline, but not from your harness.) The guide attaches you to the line and, when the lower guide signals the “all clear,” gives you a push. You control your speed by pulling down on the line with the hand that you’re holding behind your head. As you get to the end of the line you want to have enough momentum to make it all the way to the platform, but not so much that you’ll crash into the guide. That lower guide detaches you from the line, and you wait for everyone to be ready to start the next line. As you go down the lines, you are generally descending the mountain, so you end up pretty close to where you started. A very short truck ride takes you back to the facility.