Summer break is vacation time for my family. A few weeks ago, I wrote several articles while planning for our road trip from Virginia to the Midwest to share my family’s road trip tips. More recently, we tackled amusement parks and national parks. Over the next week or two, I’ll share some lessons learned from our camping trip and amusement park trip. Today’s article though is going to focus on a family first for us—zip lining.
We live just a couple hours away from the Massanutten Resort. During the winter, the resort offers plenty of snow activities such as skiing and snowboarding. In warmer seasons, the resort ingeniously converts to a wide variety of no-snow activities including tubing, go-karting, and zip lining.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with zip lines, a zip line is a pulley suspended on a cable mounted on an incline. Riders are harnessed and attached to the pulley and then gravity propels the rider down along the cable. In many locations, zip lines run from platform to platform forming a course so that riders can take a “tour” above the forest trees.
The resort we visited offers several different zip line experiences ranging in length and intensity. Their Kids’ Zip Line included a ropes course that children had to navigate in order to reach the launch point. It was open to children ages 5-12 who weigh between 40 and 250 pounds. My 6-year old daughter and 11-year old son had no trouble navigating the ropes course and both LOVED the experience. We had just as much fun watching them and cheering them on. Here are a couple of pictures from their adventure.
After the kids finished their course, I and my two teens hit the Mega Zip Line. There was no minimum age to ride the Mega Zip Line, but they don’t recommend it for children under 7. Minimum weight was 70 pounds though (maximum of 260). Unfortunately, they actually checked our weight by having us step on a scale (am I the only one who thinks this is as invasive as asking to see what color underwear I am wearing?). Thankfully, only the clerk sees the number and no amount of cajoling from my desperate children could persuade ours to reveal my number.
No rope course for us, just a moving walkway (i.e. giant conveyor belt) that carried us up the hill to the launch pad. Even though I’m afraid of heights, I wasn’t particularly fearful on the zip line. I thought it would be hard to talk myself into stepping off the platform, but the harness gives you the sensation of sitting on a swing and the gradual slope towards the landing platform forced me to look forward, not down. I will admit to being a little nervous as I continued to pick up speed heading down the hill, wondering how on earth I was going to stop before smashing through the back wall of the landing platform. I’m happy to report the braking system works remarkably well (and without giving me whiplash!).
I feel compelled to share the final phase of our adventure, even though it was the most humiliating part of the whole experience for me so that you can mentally prepare yourself and hopefully avoid my fate. You see, the landing platform is not on the ground. Instead, it sits about 60 feet off the ground. So, after you’ve zip lined down the mountain, in order to rejoin your family members on solid ground, you have to belay down from the landing platform. I stood on the platform, waiting for my turn, patiently watching as one person after another (one of them my daughter) stepped gracefully off and slowly descended safely to the ground.
When it was finally my turn, instead of stepping casually off the platform, I stumbled (insert several gasps from onlookers) and then slid awkwardly to a seated position with my legs dangling off the edge of the platform with the frustrated attendant gently trying to nudge the rest of my body off, urging me through gritted teeth to “just lean forward.” I’m still not sure if I actually complied or if she laid all 90 pounds of herself into me until I finally fell off, but I did manage to leave the platform and descend slowly and safely to my family who were each brandishing various shades of red, embarrassed that the woman who caused a spectacle on the belay cable was related to them. My husband was the only one smiling broadly, proud of himself for capturing the whole event on video.
So, if you’re looking for something different to do that everyone in the family will enjoy, check out the nearest zip line. Click here to find one near you.