Thursday, August 12, 2010

Zip Lining...the French Way

On Tuesday, we headed off to Adventure Park for a little zip lining.  Were we in for another adventure, but at least this one was planned!  The zip line park was about an hour away.  When we arrived, there were a lot of cars...turns out it's a very popular place in August.  The owners spoke perfect English (in fact, I don't think they are French) and we were able to get checked in oriented without any issues.  James and I decided to sit this adventure out (me because I'm still having trouble coughing when I exert myself too much, James because he's smart!)

The park had 9 different trails to choose from, each taking about 35 minutes each.  Three of the trails were for little kids (the white trails).  There were then two green trails (easiest), blue, yellow/red, red & black, with each color getting harder.  After the orientation, Kerry and the kids decided to start on a green trail, as recommended by the staff.  This way, everyone could become more comfortable using the equipment, while only 10 feet off the ground.  That's right, they taught you how to hook yourself in and out, as you were completely responsible for your own safety.  There were no staff members at the various lines to make sure you are hooked in properly.  It's up to you.  We had never been to a zip line park where you were completely responsible for getting yourself hooked on the lines, even when we zip lined in Belize!  This was definitely going to be an adventure.

Still happy on the ground!

Getting harnesses on.

Are we really going to do this?

Ready to go.

Requisite butt shot (notice Kerry stepped out of the photo!)

Learning the ropes.

All of the zip lining adventures we've done had you climb up long stair cases to get to the top of your zip line.  So, you get lots of exercise, but it's climbing up stairs.  This park was a little different.  There were no stairs.  To get to your zip line, you have to traverse various rope courses.  Some of the courses were fairly easy (easy for me to say, from the ground) and they became more and more difficult.

Katie's the first one up!

Ethan on the logs.

Kerry on a platform.

Kerry on the spiderweb!

Kerry's first zip line.

Lukas' first zip line.

Katie on a platform.

Megan on a tightrope!

Ethan on the tightrope...piece of cake!

Megan and Katie in a tall tree on a platform.

Yep, that's really Megan, on a zip line.

Katie on a zip line.

Pure Megan!!!!

Katey zip lining!


Lukas was the only one who looked down at the right moment.  Good thing I have a great zoom...he was 30 feet up!

Ethan with a new technique on the zip!

Katie & Megan on a rope bridge.

Oh man...I'm high up!!

Another zip line for Kerry!

Here's where things got interesting.  Kerry and the kids had done two full courses, a green and blue.  They wanted to do one more, so they skipped the yellow/red and went for the red one.  About 3/4's of the way into the red course, you have the choice to continue on with red or to take a detour and do black.  Everyone could make up their minds when they got to this juncture.  The last three obstacles before they had to make a decision were on a black level, so if these were too tough, they should decide to finish red and not try the full black course.  The start of the course was a climb up this wall.

Katey doing a great job!

Lukas scaling the wall.

Ethan, making his way up.

Everyone made it up the wall and they were off.  The obstacles were definitely more challenging and required good balance and lots of upper body strength.  This course was at least double the height of the other courses that they had done (so about 30 - 40 feet off the ground on average...with some areas substantially higher).

Ethan on the single line tight rope!

Then, the group got to this obstacle.  Katey was the first to go and didn't quite make it on her own.  A guy behind our group decided to get on the obstacle with her to try to help her along.  The way to successfully traverse this obstacle was to get both your feet on one of the poles, pull the next pole to you, then wrap your leading leg around it and then release the first pole.  There were about 15 poles that you had to get across.  Katey chose a different method and tried to hand from the safety wire and scoot along.  Soon here clips were stuck and she couldn't slide anymore.  This guy help Katey get her pulley attached to the safety wire and helped her scoot the rest of the way.  Unfortunately, at the end of the obstacle, her lines got tangled in his and she fell back off the platform, onto him.  Luckily, all the lines held and Katey managed to get up on the platform.  Her first words were...I'm not doing black!!!

At this point, one of the staff members was on the ground, watching our group.  After Katey's troubles, she told me that our group should not do the black course, that it would be too difficult.  I had been watching some others do the black course and it definitely looked like it was going to be a significant challenge.  Katie and Megan were next on the poles and they made it across without any trouble, as did Kerry.

Megan triumphing over the sticks!

Katey proceeded along the red course.  Katie, Megan and Kerry had a decision to make.  They all wanted to do the black course.  There were two black obstacles and then a ladder to get down or continue.  So, they decided to try the first two black obstacles.  All three made it, but the second obstacle took a lot out of Kerry (at this point everyone in our group had been doing courses for three plus it was not surprising they were getting tired.)

Kerry on a black course obstacle.

Waiting for Kerry to complete this obstacle.

At this point, a final decision had to be made.  The girls could continue along the black course, or they could climb down the rope ladder.  Here you see a guy (an American), who had attempted the black course, got half way through and couldn't make it, so he had to back track through two difficult obstacles to get back to the tree that had the ladder to exit.  He told the girls that one of the obstacles just required too much upper body strength and he couldn't do it.  Megan and Katie wanted to continue on, but Kerry was ready to be finished.  When the American got down to the ground, I questioned him about the obstacle.  In addition to saying that it was incredibly difficult, he said that the obstacle required you to unhook your safety lines after every other step and re hook around the hanging ropes.  That was enough for me to decide that Megan couldn't continue.  Since I was responsible for her, I felt it was the appropriate decision to make.  If Ethan had still been up there, I would have told him he had to come down too.  After a little more debate, Kerry told Katie that she would need to come down too.  Needless to say, the girls were very disappointed.  But based upon the information that I'd been given, I didn't want the girls to get stuck where we couldn't get to them. 

Talking to the American about the difficulty of the next phase.

The girls decided to re climb up to the end of the red course so they could at least finish with two cool zip lines.

The girls climbing back up to finish the red course.

Megan on the logs!

Megan's last zip line!

Katie's last zip line.

I'm really proud of everyone.  They each pushed themselves past their limits and did a great job.  I'm amazed at each of them for their tenacity and ability to dig deep to push through their fears and physical limitations to accomplish what they did!  We've all agreed that if we return, everyone can start out on the red course and do the black course if they want to (we found out after they'd finished that you don't have to unhook your safety lines on the black course obstacle as the American guy had told me...we think he must have hooked into the wrong line, which is what made it impossible for him to complete the obstacle).  Just another day in France!


Michelle said...

Wow! I can't believe everyone did that. I heard parts of the story but you really have no idea until you see these pictures. I'm really proud of how brave everyone was...and thanks Steph for grounding Megan. She's lucky to have such great aunties...I'm sure I wouldn't have let her go any futher than the green courses. Love you guys, Michelle

Steph said...

We love you and miss you too!!!