After a quick breakfast and checking out, our family drove to CLIMB Works to start our ziplining adventure. We had seen their large ad displayed on our way back from Wildwater rafting. Since their location was closer, we decided to try them for this adventure instead of driving all the way back to the Hartford area.
The drive was only about 40 mins from the hotel, but we were asked to arrive 40 mins before scheduled time. Once again, we relied on screenshots and the huge sign pointing the way to the location. There was sufficient parking space for several vehicles. Once we checked in, we were weighed and asked to fill out the participant forms. These were available on iPads located in the lobby and parents could add-on the minors to their forms and sign for them. Everyone had to wear closed toed shoes and long hair had to be restrained in a ponytail.
The lobby also provided a locker area to store valuables in. After using the restroom (since there aren’t any on the course, although water is available), we went in with another group of four to get the harnesses on. We had two guides with us and they had us all geared up and ready to go in about 20 mins. Each group then hopped on to an ATV for the 400 feet nearly vertical climb to the top where the course starts. It was really cool.
Now, our family had ziplined once before in 2012 in Maui, but that was a smaller course designed to accommodate Sonny JJ who was a first grader then. This course had nine ziplines in total and the website promised that our feet wouldn’t touch the ground for 2.5 hours! I was excited and a bit nervous as well. Sonny JJ hardly weighs over 70 lbs (minimum weight requirement) and I wondered what would happen if he got stranded on the long courses. But the guides assured me that this wouldn’t happen.
We took a skybridge to our first course and we were explained how the system would work. After securing the harnesses, the first guide would make his way over the next tree top and then would be our turn. On the second course, the last person would head out first and so on. It was an interesting experience to zipline our way down from the top, surrounded by mountains and trees. The courses varied from 900-1200 feet in length as high sometimes swooping as low as 40-50 feet above ground.
At the second station, we took group photos and at the next one, we had individual shots taken while we held on and looked back at the guide from the departing one. The difficulty and change of scenery kept the courses interesting. Sonny JJ was boosted a couple of times by our second guide but he made it safe across each time.
On the last but one course, riders could hold on and completely drop upside down. Most of the group tried it but I was too chicken to do so. It was fun to hear everyone yelling and screaming as the rider took off. For brief periods as I ziplined, I could feel the serenity of the place and the amazing vistas fly past me. Even amidst the people around me, I felt alone and content to be luxuriating in nature’s beauty.
At the end, we had to cross another skybridge one by one and the guides took photos of us at this point, two people at a time. The last part was a surprise and an exhilarating one, since we still nearly 40-50 feet off the ground. It made us all a little anxious to be getting down to ground that way. The other group had done it before and assured us that while it may cause palpitations, it worked and was safe.
Finally, it was my turn to go after the members of the other group and when I did it felt completely natural and not at all scary. Now I can’t reveal the surprise and break the suspense for you, the reader. You’ll just have to try out the course for yourself and see.
After walking back to the main lobby area, we got out of our gear, retrieved our belongings, looked through our photos and then headed out. The photos were eventually emailed to us.
All in all, it had been an exhilarating experience. Had we planned properly, we could have taken either a Go Pro or a camera secured around our necks. Perhaps, next time around.
We were headed back to Knoxville airport but stopped briefly at No Way Jose’s Cantina for lunch. The decor was colorful as befits a Mexican restaurant. The portions were huge and the food was delicious.
Back on the road, we passed through Pigeon Forge, en route to Knoxville. We made a quick visit to the Sunsphere at World’s Fair Park and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Being a Peyton Manning fan, I had to stop by to see their football stadium and drive along Peyton Manning Pass.
Eventually, we made our way back to the airport and home to Dallas. This was a trip we needed to make, to get away before the pressures of school and work started all over again. For being a last-minute getaway, it certainly didn’t disappoint. There’s a lot more to be done and experienced in the Smoky Mountain area of Tennessee and I hope we will get back to try something new, sometime soon.