Saturday, March 3, 2012

Zipping The Canyons - Part One

There's a cool new place that has opened in Ocala in the last few months - Canyons Zip Line and Canopy Tours. Since we did the one straight zip line at our first Clergy Kids retreat in 2011, Daryl and I thought it would be cool to do it again. So for Christmas I bought us certificates to try it out. We were supposed to go a couple of weeks ago on a Friday when we were off, but I got sick. So we rescheduled for yesterday.

Canyons Zip is in northwest Ocala (only about 20 minutes from our house) and is built over an old limestone quarry that was abandoned back in the 1970s. Mother Nature has taken back over, with water filling the canyons and all kinds of wildlife around.

We were signed up for the 10:30am tour. We zipped with five other people: a mom and her two teenage daughters and a set of best friends. We were led by two tour guides, Rob and Misty. Rob always explained the zip and led off first to catch everyone at the end. Misty helped everyone get set up to zip and then followed up at the end. Misty also took pictures (along with another guide at a couple of places). We were able to purchase a CD at the end with over 300 pictures of our experience. Here we are on the pad outside the main building getting geared up.

We rode out on mules (off road golfcarts) to the start and then spent some time on a line just a few feet in the air practicing our skills and learning our safety signals.

Daryl getting ready to go on the first zip, Big Beef. His hand is on the trolley, which is what we held onto with both hands while zipping. We were hooked into the trolley with two carabiner clips. If you needed to brake, you put one hand out behind you flat and pressed down to slow your speed - which explains the really heavy duty gloves you wore.

The first two zips were short, maybe 200 feet or so long. We could see the end from the beginning and they weren't super high, maybe 3 stories up? This was the third one called Ridge Runner and the first one where we could not see the end from the beginning.

Looking back at the platform from midzip.

Getting ready to head up to the platform for the fourth zip. There were occasional treks up a rope bridge or sloped platforms and even the occasional hike along paths between zips.

The fourth zip was called Give a Hoot because of all the owls that nest in the trees around the landing zone. If you look closely you can see the third zip below us running right to left.

We don't have any pictures from the fifth zip Breakout which is the first one to take us out of the canopy of trees. The sixth one, Prairie, was the first one that went out over the water in spots. Here are some views from the tower and our zip #6.

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