Cheré Dastugue Coen
Ziplining a life experience. Who knew?
Flying over Coldwater Creek in Northwest Florida with Adventures Unlimited.
There’s something terrifying about climbing high above treetops and jumping off. It’s not the worry about falling to my death. Because I understand that two levels of ziplining cables, the trolleys and the double carabiners will protect me. What I feared most was having to brake myself at the other end.
My first ziplining experience was in North Carolina where a group of us zipped through several lines as snow softly fell. It was both exhilarating and horrifying because as much as I enjoyed flying through the winter air and viewing the gorgeous mountain scenery I kept spinning and forgetting how to brake at the other end. The guides assured me they would catch me if I failed, but the first time I screwed up my brake and rammed into the guy. Which was enough to scare anyone off the sport.
Later, I would zipline without the need to self-brake and loved that so much better. I started gaining confidence and would gladly raise my hand when the offer to zipline emerged.
But then I had the opportunity to zipline with a group of fellow travel writers through the canopy of Adventures Unlimited near Milton, Florida, in Santa Rosa County, an attraction that also offers cabin accommodations and paddling down Coldwater Creek, one of the most pristine waterways in the state — and one that I highly recommend enjoying. As we walked to our first run, I was told that self-braking was in store, but no worries, they would explain and all would be fine. Guess what? After listening intently to the instructions, I stuck my hand in front of the trolley to brake — it goes behind — and screwed up my brake on the first run. I ended up stumbling horribly, then stopping before the platform, having to turn and pull myself in.
“I don’t worry about you,” our guide Bill told me. “I can tell you have no fear so you’ll be fine.”
Was he blind?
Our next run was a LONG climb up, so my second attempt was frighteningly high, as in seeing magnolia blooms at the TOP of trees. I couldn’t imagine stepping off that platform. I asked to go last — as if that would help. And then I stood there like a zombie, staring off into the trees hiding the next platform where Bill waited, a man who believed I had no fear.
“You can do it,” said Erin, the other guide who waited patiently behind me.
“No, I can’t,” I thought, but I walked off anyway, flying through the air like a fool but not spinning and remembering to brake the cable above my head, but this time behind me. I actually slowed the dang thing down and slipped into my guide’s arms without a problem. I don’t know who was more excited, that man or me.
It took a few more attempts before I felt confident, but by the seventh run, a long, delicious stretch that veers over Coldwater Creek, I actually enjoyed the run, stopped thinking too much about my braking and started relishing the scenery. As we walked back to the outpost with our gear beating against our legs and our bandanas glued to our humid foreheads, I was a new woman.
I came. I ziplined. I braked!
Want to see Bill easily flying over Coldwater Creek? Click here.
For more information on Adventures Unlimited, visit http://www.adventuresunlimited.com/. Be sure and stay the night, enjoy the cabins and paddle that gorgeous creek.
Cheré Dastugue Coen is also the author of the Viola Valentine paranormal mystery series under the pen name of Cherie Claire. She used her experiences at Adventures Unlimited for her latest book in the series, "Ghost Fever."