Sunday, January 3, 2016

Zip Line? Why The Hell Not?

Way up in the trees with lots of steel cables -- de riguer for Costa Rica.
Today is a snowy, cold day in Portland. As a result, I am thinking fondly of our recent vacation in Costa Rica. One good memory is the day we spent zip lining.

While I was in the haze of beach reading and sloth imitation (based on observation, not conjecture), the kids began to pester me about wanting to go zip lining. All of their classmates who had been to Costa Rica had done this, and should they return without having done so they would be cruelly mocked.

Fine. We will do this, I said. We walked to the outskirts of the town where there was a concession and I signed up for the three of us. Out in front of the building was a cable strung between two trees. I thought we would gear up and take a few runs on this.

As expected the staff fitted us with a climbing harness, a couple of carabiners, leather gloves, and a helmet. The piece of cable out front turned out to be for demonstration purposes. After a brief intro, our guide yelled, "Everybody into the truck."

Turns out the kids were as clueless as I was about the exact nature of zip lining. We all agreed that steel cables were involved, but beyond that we were stumped.

The truck took us up a winding dirt road that climbed a few thousand feet at a steep angle. We got out then hiked up a path another few hundred feet. When we got to the first section of cable we could see a vast expanse of tree tops and the coast several miles below. The cable appeared to disappear into lush jungle with no discernible terminus.

"You go first," the kids decided.

Turns out the zip line experience was a series of 13 cables, some as long as 400 feet, zig-zagging down a hillside between 50 and 100 feet above the ground.

The system felt robust, for after a turn on the cable the staff clipped your carabiner to a saftey cable on the tree platform. We saw some birds, but other wildlife fled in annoyance as we felt compelled to yell as we buzzed (zipped?) down the hill.

I understand why this is a keynote experience. For while I was flying down a cable, all I could see was jungle, sky, and the ocean in the distance, all amplified beyond any normal experience with a thrilling dose of speed.

Here's the surviving footage.



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