Everybody Has A Story: Checking zip lining off the bucket list

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Zip lining has been on my bucket list for quite a while. I put it there because it looked good. Not that I was ever going to do it. I’m afraid of heights, so the idea was pretty laughable.

I started watching it on the web and it looked fun. The people were all smiling, and the reviews they wrote were full of good times. So I decided to get zip lining off my bucket list — as in, go ahead and do it.

But I’m old, 67; can old people actually do zip line? I took the first step and looked up a place to go. Luepke Senior Center was going to Pumpkin Ridge Zip Tour, near Portland. See, it said “Senior.” The first blank on the form was “age,” and 67 fit right in. Dang, no excuse.

I looked at pictures and videos from the Pumpkin Ridge site. Gulp, so high up, but it sure looked fun. “I can cancel any time.” That became my mantra. Plus, the date was in the summer, months away. Good. I signed up.

Remember mantra

But before I knew it the date was here. Eight of us met at Luepke; only two had gone before. We arrived around 10 a.m. and were split into two groups. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. There were seven zip lines, starting from not very high up (15 feet) and not very long — to very high (120 feet) and very long. I looked at the first zip line nearby and tried to concentrate on the line, not the height.

We were geared up: helmets, gloves and tons of belts everywhere. Our guide talked to us about safety things and the fact that, yes, we could still choose not to go at any time. Ah, my mantra.

There were two guides, a “release” person at one end and a “catch” person at the other end of each zip line. Our guides were so young — kids, at least to me. Probably in their 20s. How could they possibly know how an old lady like me felt, doing this for the first time?

They demonstrated catching and releasing each other to show how it was done. We climbed up steps and onto a platform. I wanted to go first, so as not to back out when I saw others go. The young “release” guide was so nice, I did not look down but straight at him.

He hooked me up to the line with this huge hook, then told me to sit down a little and begin to feel my weight hanging from the harness. I was still on the platform, but I could feel the harness holding me. This made me feel so much better.

He asked if I was ready, I said no. He waited and asked again and I said no. I was being totally honest, poor guy. He said, well, let me know when you’re ready. I thought of my mantra: I can cancel at any time. Part of me felt sick but the other part of me said, “Oh, what the heck.”

I said I was ready. He released me and off I went! It was so weird; when I got “caught” on the other side and got up on the next platform, I could not remember just having done it. It’s like I blacked out or something. I think I was just so scared. But, the fact was, I did it! And I was alive. OK then, on to the next one.

As we worked our way downhill, each zip line went to a taller platform, and that got us to a more difficult zip line. It began to get fun zipping from platform to platform — until we came to the three highest platforms. Instead of another zip line, there was a long, steep swinging bridge of steps that led to the next platform. The guys would go first and reach down to help the ladies up onto the platform.

Then we were hooked up to our last zip line, which started 120 feet off the ground and ended up on the ground platform. It was breathtaking to watch the others as they zipped down the line. I was so glad to be a part of it. I never did look down, just ahead at the beautiful trees.

We had just come off an amazing experience. We stood there looking up at the lines and trees. We were all smiles because, by golly, we did it. As far as my bucket list, I now have zip line checked off.


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