News from Vermont #270 - Zippin' Right Along (part two)

September 5th, 2012


Hello again Maple People,
At my last writing, I had just left you thoroughly hanging when I stepped off a platform forty feet up in a tree. That's "hanging" just like what I'm doing right now. I'm also flying through the treetops like a bat-outa-hell and scared to death! I'm with a group of five friends, all fellow members of the Vermont Attractions Association board of directors. We're at ArborTrek Canopy Adventures, one of our member attractions, for a little "hands-on" peek at what they have to offer. The other five are having a ball but I'd be much better off at a more docile attraction like, say, Neighborly Farms of Vermont (how could you possibly be scared at a place like that?) or curled up on a couch at the Northshire Bookstore with a good book. Instead, I'm headed straight for ArborTrek's platform number three and if I don't slow down, I'll smack head-on into a massive Hemlock tree.
A petite young lady named Stephanie, one of our group's two guides, has zipped ahead and is making the universal "slow down" signal with her arms. It's up to me to apply the brakes; brakes that, in this case, consist of my leather-gloved left hand held against the  steel cable that I'm trolleying on. If there was any time to think, it might be about my logging winch cable back home that's full of steel splinters, but there's no time to think. I reach my left hand up behind the tiny trolley that my 185 pound frame is clipped to, apply pressure, and slow down, just like Stephanie said I would. I glide...hell no, I "blunder", all arms, legs, and quivering mass, in to the plank landing where petite Steph grabs and tethers me before I could possible fall forty feet to the ground.
Whew...two zips down but six to go. Off to one side of the platform where we huddle tethered like pet monkeys, is an "escape" line but at this point, it would be a humiliating, I'm in this for the long "zip". Our guides, Stephanie and Chris, explain the unique qualities of our next run, using words like "steeper" and "faster" and "higher" (I'd add "terrifying"). Like before, Steph goes first and then Chris helps us step off the platform one at a time. I go last for no particular reason except even if I were a freakin' lemming, I'd go last. This time, somewhere in transit, I get a fleeting rush of euphoria but it's instantly cancelled as I approach my landing; I brake and once again blunder in to Steph's able arms.
By this time, I'm well established as our group's "weak link". They're all being duly encouraging but Vicky Tebbetts, VAA's "fearless leader" and the only one of us who had previously done the zip line, can't soften it when she tells me we'll soon have to rappel forty feet straight down. "Is it scary?" I squeak. "A little" she replies which to me means "get ready t'soil yer britches Burr!"
After a couple more terrifying zips, we get to the platform where it's either "rappel or live in the trees forever". Here I must explain how gravity has always been my enemy in every respect. My wife is forever pulling up my pants, tucking in my shirt, or pointing to untied shoelaces...think Charlie Brown's "Pigpen"!  This disheveled state is usually caused by my constant picking in an attempt to make "things" fit more comfortably and the cussed harness I'm wearing today has apparently required extensive, involuntary "picking"...I've managed to make it hang too loose on my body! We all get briefed in rappelling and I, once again last, find myself pushing off a deck and dangling in mid-air like a big fat spider...the only problem is that as I relax my grip on the rope to lower myself, unlike my peers, I'm upside down! I clumsily reach Terra firma where my pals guide me back upright, laughing about my unusual form. Chris, our young male guide, approaches me and, as discreetly as possible, cinches the harness I had almost fallen out of! We proceed toward one last zip and a final, shorter rappel (this time, I look like a pro!).
Upon my final (and soft) touchdown, euphoria hits big time...I've done it, we've done it...our group is all "high fives and hugs" including Steph and Chris, our two very professional guides. An exhilarating "rush" propels us to the waiting van and the end of our tour. 
I still feel remnants of that "rush" one month later as I end this epistle by answering two questions:
Would I recommend ArborTrek Canopy Adventures to anyone else? Yes,'ll change your life!
Would I ever do it again? Hell no...once is all it takes.
As we enter our spectacular foliage season here in Vermont, we're thinking of you. I first met many of you folks when you came here for foliage season and we've continued our relationship through email. You are great friends and you help Morse Farm so much through your patronage and your praise of News from Vermont. Thanks! Please keep in mind as we enjoy leaf season once again and then head on toward the Holidays.
Zippin' done,