Zipping Away My Anxiety of Heights
I like to consider myself somewhat adventurous, so the idea of zipping through tree tops at 25 mph should be appealing. Even though I’m 6’4”, heights have never excited me. I don’t have a fear of heights; it’s more of a respect for them. So, when the owners of Hocking Hills Canopy Tours invited me to bring the travel counselors who answer our 1-800-BUCKEYE calls, I admittedly was apprehensive.
There was a slight rain in the air when the five of us checked in. No matter, as the zip lines fly rain or shine; only lightning will cause a tour to be halted or rescheduled. Our guides, Joey and Kevin, met us with enthusiasm and reassured us that we would have a fun and safe experience.
We were outfitted with the necessary gear, which includes a leg and waist harness followed by a chest harness. Next stop was a quick course on “zipping” hook-up procedures and more safety briefings. Then we took a one-mile gator ride to the Bunny Zip; so named because it’s not high off the ground and only about 20 yards across.
Before we got started, there was another safety briefing (notice a theme) and our initial hook-up. This reminded me of my time in the Army, not because I jumped out of airplanes, but because of the songs we sang about those who did–“Stand up, Hook-up, Shuffle to the Door.” Our shuffle was up a cable bridge to the first platform. Joey explained in detail how the remainder of our tour would proceed, along with some additional information about the plants and animals that inhabit the area.
At this point, Joey and Kevin had done a good job putting everyone at ease, but it was time for my first zip. My legs were a bit shaky and I had an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach. With some trepidation, I obediently climbed to the top step as instructed. Kevin attached me to the cable for my ride across to meet Joey on the next platform. Joey yelled the “all clear,” followed by the “go” command from Kevin. I clasped my hands over the rigging and stepped off the platform for a free fall to my…death. What really happened was the same thing that happens for everyone—an exhilarating ride 20 or so feet above the forest floor. As I sped toward the landing platform, Joey gave me the brake signal where I slowed myself to an awkward but safe touchdown.
The remaining nine zip line rides were remarkably uneventful. Uneventful in the fact that I was no longer nervous, the pit in my stomach was gone, my legs were (mostly) steady and I was able to have FUN. I was surprised at how little I thought about the height of t he remaining lines and I was able to relax and really enjoy the experience, which passed amazingly fast.
So, despite my apprehension of all things vertical, the folks at Hocking Hills Canopy Tours, namely Joey and Kevin, ensured–through proper preparation and good natured joking—an enjoyable day in the canopy of the Hocking Hills forest.