Apparently, when I filled out the form with Anywhere Costa Rica about things we wanted to do, I must have checked the box that said Extreme Sports, because what, to our wondering eyes did appear on the itinerary? A zip line, that’s what. Not just any zip line either. This was EIGHT lines all sort of connected. Although we had seen zip lines before (and heard lots of screams, we presumed from delight) we had never actually done this ourselves.
Well, when we saw it scheduled we kicked around whether to cancel or go for it. I kinda wanted to do it, Dianne kinda didn’t. As we looked into it further we found that they give you a short trial run. After that you could decide whether to go the rest of the way or not. AND there are other activities as well, including a nature hike and a tram ride. After much discussion we decided to give it a try. Here is the layout:
Our driver arrived right on time at the Trapp Family Lodge to take us to the Sky Park. Fortunately, the first order of business was the nature walk, the area in green on the map. The heavy lines you see on said map represent these:
A series of seven suspension bridges helped us over the deep ravines. Of course, the guide wasn’t happy until we looked down at the deepest spot, which, to us was merely a black hole:
Our guide was quite good. Not only could he explain many of the exotic plants that grow down there, he also was excellent at spotting wild life.
This was our first ever two-toed sloth:
Followed very soon by our first-ever howler monkeys:
And, our first-ever centipede!
He was also very good about taking pictures for us:
But, all good things come to an end. It was now time to tackle the zip lines. If you go back to the map above, you will see that the zip line course outlined in red. Essentially, you zig-zag down the mountain, in a series of 7 lines. The first line is the trial line where you declare yourself to be in or out. If you are in, you are in for the entire run. You can’t just do a line or two and say, “I’m done now.”
So you go up to the shack and a couple of guides meet you. Ours were named Bernie and Elvis. There were only four people in our group, Dianne, me and a couple from Amsterdam. The guides fitted us all with harnesses and helmets. For me, they provided a helmet with a bracket for a GoPro which was a big help. I had brought a clamp, but it would not have worked.
After we were secured in our harnesses, the guides gave detailed instructions on how to hang from the line, how to put your feet out before they apply the brake, and so on. Then it was show time. The couple from Amsterdam went first. Dianne, understandably, had serious doubts. To her credit, she gave it a try:
After her trial run, and gauging the impact on her newly replaced shoulder, she decided to settle for the tram ride up the mountain and then to call it a day.She did get a damn fine glamour shot though:
As it turned out, this was a good call. On some of those lines you go lickety-split and the stops are very sudden indeed. Much like a jet landing on an aircraft carrier. When that hook grabs you, WHOA NELLIE! Not something you want to try with a bionic shoulder.
So, that left three of us. We all rode the tram up the mountain (the orange lines on the map), said our farewells to Dianne and proceeded to climb this big tower to our first line. The climb pert near killed us.
Then it was time to go! The couple from Amsterdam did a fine job of cheering me on, a much-needed service. Elvis and Bernie were VERY professional. There was no funny business with these guys. They were all safety first. That’s what sold the deal. That and the fact that I could almost see my destination at the end of the first line. Quite helpful. Then it was WOOSH and I’m hanging over some ravine at a fairly high rate of speed. The boys told me that the worst thing would be to not go fast enough and get stuck out there somewhere. In which case you have to turn yourself, while suspended, and pull yourself hand over hand to the end point. In other words, they are not coming out to get you. (Although, I suppose they would if there were no alternative. They can’t just leave you hanging. Probably)
Well, it was immediately clear that lack of speed was not going to be a problem. What was a problem was that my head was up too high and the GoPro was scraping on the zip line. I had a hard time keeping far enough down to prevent that. So, not only did I grind off a fair amount of the case, but the video has a lot of buzz on the sound track from the cable hitting. That is why you are getting a video of the second line (Line 3 on the map) instead. They were able to adjust my harness and lower me down a bit. That mostly solved the problem. Here is the second line:
The way the brakes work is, they have a long cord hooked to a tubular pad. They run that pad out a hundred feed or so and when you hit it they pull on the cord. It is the cord that absorbs the impact, and the guide pulling it that slows you down. It is all fairly abrupt, however, and it gives you a pretty good jolt. It is actually as much fun as the ride itself.
Well, in time, we became pretty comfortable with all this and it was really a LOT of fun. In no time at all we had knocked out all the remaining lines except the second to last, the one the You Tube people call, “Big Papa”. The guides did not. To them it was Cable 7. Cable 7 is 2,460 feet long, 196 feet at its highest point, with a maximum speed of 46 mph. This is what it was like:
At the end of this line we had the choice of jumping off the platform we were on using something like a bungee cord, although you don’t bounce back up. You free fall for a while, then it sort of catches you. ( I have video of the Amsterdam couple doing it. If you want to see it, send me a message). This is not what I signed up for, however, and I wanted to do the last zip line. So, Bernie rode over first to catch me, and off I went for the last ride, which was event less.At the end, Bernie was gracious enough to pose with what was probably his ten thousandth tourist.
Well, we had done all this and it wasn’t even time for lunch yet! We had to get back to the lodge so we wouldn’t miss our ride to the afternoon coffee plantation tour!