Sunday, September 07, 2008

Tree top trekking

Tree Top Trekking

(try saying that five times really fast!)

Ready to climb and play

(I'd like to preface this writing by mentioning this post is out of order from the roadtrip excursions, but we really wanted to get this up to show the big kiddos out in the west.)


The hotel lobby had numerous tourist attraction pamphlets available for the taking, and as I browsed, I carefully perused each one I touched, wondering about the value they could add to our exploring/vacation time on our road trip.

I found one holding high interest to me, never mind the children. Ha! After all, I liked being outdoors, loved adventure and heh, I'm a good sport for trying almost anything at least once. The adventure I held in my hands was called "Tree Top Trekking" and located not too far to make the time spent trying it out do-able.

I surprised the children the first day my husband had to return to work by announcing we would rise, eat our breakfast in the hotel restaurant, and then depart for the entire day until dinner time. A few jaws fell while wondering just what their mother had planned.

"Hmmmpf"; they thought, "What in the world DOES she have planned ?" (especially after they were also informed they would need a jacket and good sturdy athletic shoes, water bottles in tow too.)

"Good grief" they thought! Do we really want to be a part of this ?" I heard as I rounded the corner and headed for the elevator. I was almost busting a gut with laughter causing such a commotion, but I also knew this would prove to be a day they would surely NEVER forget! And it was!

We headed north traveling for a while, that is after mommy here was able to land a delicious hot coffee latte along the way. With my trusty mapquest and guide map book in hand, I singlehandedly arrived at our location with four sets of bugged eyes wondering why we were at a ski resort! hee hee

We stopped to speak to a park director who informed us of all the activities during the summer there, and as he rambled them all off, the segway and ATV tours, horse trail riding, golf and beyond, I could see shoulders stand to attention and half smiles perk up on faces surrounding us while talking.

Off we went to our exact parking location, and there we were altogether wondering just what lay ahead, me included when I noticed my older daughter forgot to get her proper shoes on, and that would eventually leave me no option but to have to do a "freaky friday" shoe exchange with my teenage daughter. gulp...

Our "Freaky Friday" mother/daughter shoe exchange

Onward ho, we never knew we had to hike into the tree top trekking excursion area on foot after parking in the allocated lot, but it was a lovely day, perfect for everything about to happen. Without a reservation as the pamphlet indicated as a preference, we actually landed a spot one hour from the time of arrival. The information I had was anyone over the age of 5 years could participate, but younger ones would be segregated to a children's section where they would be attached to a zip pull line at all times.

The children's section, ages 5 - 11 years

Our children though were tall and passed for the junior levels, so all four children were prepped, dressed and orientated at both stations before heading to the beginner ladders. Ladders? Heck - these were LADDERS folks! HIGH ladders!

It was really a very safe activity. Here is our
youngest daughter on the platform to the right
....way up high!

Tree top trekking encompasses many skills. Leadership, organizational, logic, teamwork, co-operation to the list of rules, and physical everything. I felt so ripped off when I was asked NOT to climb because one parent must be on the ground at all times for all children under the age of 12, so there I was, feeling blue about not being able to play Tarzan (you DO know who that is, right? snicker), wearing my daughter's sweaty shoes, and my only option was to crank my neck upwards for three long and boring hours! At least that's what I thought...until I was smitten with the excitement ahead. Wahoo!

Tree top trekking is really playing games high above the ground in trees, the games all attached to trees and platforms joining everything together. I immediately thought of our older bunch and knew they would love all this next time everyone huh?

Orientation #2 section,
landing in nets, climbing platforms, and using ziplines.

The games are varied and increase in challenges along the way. The two younger ones were only allowed to participate in two of the four levels, and use the children's area if so desired. But once using the adult options, the children's area felt babyish to at least one of these guys here. Each person playing was identified by a wrist band color, and staff were scattered about all over the property guarding everyone climbing to assure their safety.

Colored wristbands alert staff to where one is allowed to go

The theme for tree top trekking is "Always be attached" by one of the clips, and when using the ziplines, proper orientation assured they were using all together properly. If someone were spotted unattached somewhere, a staff member slapped a green wrist band near their other mandatory one as a warning, and two bands meant they would have their gear removed, no longer able to play. It was a safety feature I came to appreciate especially when our youngest daughter climbed her first ladder just fine, clipping each link properly all the way up, and then she grabbed both clips and flung them onto the platform - UNATTACHED! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Not only I freaked a bit, but also a friendly grandfather at the end of the line, but staff members never saw so she wasn't gifted with a green band, nor did she ever earn one again! Our other daughter was caught for a tiny brief moment unattached, and she was the lucky owner of everyone playing in the trees noticing her reprimand.

Never mind the warnings though, because when our children were almost finished their day, a bus load of juvenile delinquent teens arrived and were being taught leadership skills and entering into a full day of "boot camp"in every way possible, including games with blindfolds used to cover their eyes so each would become trusting and completely dependent on a partner. Whoa! Most were fairly stressed out about climbing the first ladder, even the biggest boys and girls, screaming like silly ninnies about even having to wear safety gear, let alone climb up into the tress and work away. As I passed by I made casual conversation with a few girls who were remarking wildly about what was expected, so I casually told them to lighten up because my nine year old just completed it all. wink, wink They looked at our daughter, and then at one another, and then back at me again and half laughed. I couldn't help but reassure them to follow the rules and they would learn to love it.

Okay, back to tree top trekking. Picture rock climbing in trees, always linking up to a well marked area showing certain colors where each safety attaching item was to be clicked onto. Check out one of the areas home page, an activity originating in Australia actually and many of the original organizers are in Canada showing everyone how to run such an outdoor adventure business. Here's the link to the home page.

At days' end, everyone was exuberant and filled with adrenaline. The adventures built up newly discovered levels of confidence, offered extreme balance maneuvers and mastery over the mind to accomplish each feat. With multiples of participants throughout the trees, one had to keep on moving. There I was snapping photos, so many of them and living vicariously through them ...on the ground. Shucks! But, the whopping grand finale for the three brave ones was a final ride down the Grand Zip, a zipline 900 feet long! Imagine flying down that and landing into the net below? They loved it, wanted more, more, more.

The following day, not one of the children forgot their fun, however there were plenty of sore muscles, especially arms to deal with.

Did we make a memory? Oh yeah!

Is this mother going next time? You betcha!

And up for consideration - moonlight tree top trekking. Imagine that! :-)

Below are three mosaics I made using my photos over on Flickr. You can click onto any photo to see it up close and larger, or use any of the corresponding links at the bottom of each mosaic. Happy browsing, just think about all that fun they had!

1. Gearing up, 2. Working with cables and zips, 3. 1st orientation, 4. At the beginner's station and ready to climb, 5. holding on to my cables, 6. climbing up, again, 7. Forging through the nets, 8. Wire walker, 9. walking the logs

1. always be attached, 2. zip line fun, 3. barrel hopping, 4. watch out for the sacks hitting us!, 5. Yikes, 6. Finally making it over on the rope swing, 7. Cable hooking; always be attached!, 8. Getting onto the platform, 9. Walking the wire

1. zip line fun, 2. zip line fun, 3. ready for the next game, 4. zipping down the line, 5. whoa, balance required, 6. Platform hold, 7. net walking, 8. Ready to blast, 9. wire hopping