Almost Flying – A Zip-lining Adventure

I couldn’t understand why I was suddenly nervous – I’d gone zip-lining before – but while we walked through the safety instructions, my insides starting swirling, prepping for the inevitable journey upward. 

The first line was at the top of a tower with four flights of stairs. 

“Is it shaking or what?” asked Rachel Lukas, our Peninsula Pulse staff photographer who joined me that day, as we reached flight three. 

“It’s all part of the experience,” said Sam Riebe, half of our instructor duo.

An adventurous first cousin had destroyed any fear of heights I used to have by dragging me to rock-climbing walls, other zip lines and dangerously close to the edge of waterfalls, so upon stepping on top of the platform and looking down, I wasn’t worried. Once our group was up there, I felt my last jitters disappear after I could see that it was a regular zip line like any other. 

Looking at it and doing it are two very different things, however. 

Sam Riepe has worked at Lakeshore Adventures for four years. “The whole company just kinda turned into family, and then I just kept coming back,” she said. Photo by Rachel Lukas.

Rachel and I went last, watching the other six people and instructor Brian Wismar sail alongside the treetops. Then, somehow, I was standing on top of the wooden steps, clipped in, free to step into the open air with just metal and nylon holding me up.

“All right, you’re good to go,” Riebe said.

I didn’t breathe until the automatic brake caught me on the other side. But the little voice that whispered unsubstantiated fears was gone, and the rest of the lines were exceedingly fun.

Each line beside the first had a “challenge” attached to it, and if people in your zip-lining group are trust-falling off high towers, you should, too. 

Anyone who has experienced a good zip line will tell you that the guides make the experience, and ours were no different. Riebe, a four-year Lakeshore Adventures instructor; and Wismar, a three-year instructor, were phenomenal foils for the adrenaline-driven energy and competitiveness that surfaced in the branches.

On this particular course, there are four lines plus a rope bridge. Besides the zip lines, there are some beautiful nature views, with a turtle-inhabited pond and an overlook to Horseshoe Bay and the owner’s dad’s chicken farm. But the fourth and final line, a race line, was amazing.

The challenge on the second zip line was to touch as many trees as possible. Aaron Evans (pictured) set our group’s record at seven. Photo by Rachel Lukas.

“This is the race to end all races,” Wismar said. “Any arguments you guys have had in the past get settled right now.”

It’s the longest and fastest line on the course. I wish I could describe what I saw, but it was just a light-green blur, with Rachel as a peripheral speck ahead of me.

I laughed as the wind pulled my hair out of my helmet, an indescribable rush lodging behind my sternum. I wasn’t breathing for a different reason this time, too consumed by the thrill and adrenaline to worry about something as frivolous as air. What was fear compared to this?

After clambering down, taking off the helmets and then the equipment, waiting for the others to finish zip-lining and walking back to the office, I still felt that buzzing adrenaline, like I’d had two 20-ounce coffees back to back. I looked at my hands and was surprised they weren’t shaking.

But there was no trepidation, no fear. Well, no fear except for how I would focus back at the office for the remainder of the day while all I really wanted to do was get back to the treetops.

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