That moment when you realize you will be hooking up your own harness hardware (sans supervision) to the 650-foot TreeUmphant! zip line that is the grand finale to the new aerial base camp experience outside of Bradenton, Florida. Or when you realize that despite all training, you are coming into the landing backwards.
Which is most terrifying?
All about Safety & Adventure
Upon suiting up in my aerial obstacle course harness, I sat with others to watch the safety instructional video.
My stomach was fluttering a little, I won’t lie. I had watched others already taken to the sky-high course of impossible swing and monkey bridges, hanging barrels, steep vertical ladders, tight ropes, net walkways, suspended climbing walls, bungee swings, Tarzan ropes, zip lines, and other means of torture.
Even the kids’ courses were looking a little frightening.
In Your Bucket Because…
- You have an insane urge to channel your inner Tarzan.
- You are fairly fit and adventurous.
- Best for kids and adrenaline junkies.
The video went far to allay fears and instill confidence. Until that part about how to hook the carabiner clips to the pulley that zips you along cables at I’m guessing 100 miles per hour. That may be an exaggeration, however.
I started on the course’s “bunny hill,” where I could test the truth of the video’s assurance that if you lose your footing at any point, your harness will hold you. You won’t fall. Taking falling out of the equation was empowering, which is the point of TreeUmph!
If you do it according to instructions, your harness is always hooked to something, whether you are climbing the ladders, crossing obstacles (a cable overhead allows you to “hook up” and hold on for dear life), or zipping.
The excellent team of guides starts each participant out with instruction and encouragement. Then, if you pass muster, you’re on your own.
Plotting Your Aerial Course
As it turns out, zip lining was the tamest, easiest part of this sky-high jungle gym in the pine forest. I’ve done it a number of times, but always with someone staffing the stations and hooking up my equipment.
The challenges start with a kid’s Ape-Up course. And of course, the kids are fearless as they climb like monkeys.
I started on a more advanced course that had me holding my breath a time or two as I completed one challenge only to be faced by a more daunting one.
Suffice it to say, I did not feel compelled to progress to the higher, more difficult courses with obstacles described as “Leap of Faith” and “free-falling.”
To attempt the “black diamond” of courses, known as the Summit Course, you must prove to the guides that you are capable. Sixty-feet in the air, you maneuver eight insane, superhuman obstacles.
Fortunately, you need not pass that test to zip the final TreeUmphant, the only zip line that is staffed at the end. I’m telling myself that’s because I’m not the only one who approached it backwards. I’m telling everyone else, that’s the way I planned it!
TreeUmph! lies east of Interstate 75 outside of Bradenton on State Road 70. Call 941-322-2130 or 855-322-2130 for more information. In fall 2016, TreeUmph! will open a second Florida location near Brooksville.