Perched on the edge of a platform 40-some feet in the air wrapped around a sturdy pine tree, my 69-year-old knees were quivering as much as nearby aspen trees.
I was just starting my zip line canopy tour in the high hills above Boyne City and Young State Park at Wildwood Rush. I missed the first couple of lower to the ground zip lines, which the three other people doing the tour said were a little easier. You didn’t have to step off a platform. A running start on the ground got you going.
As I stood there holding tightly to my harness, hands sweating, one of our guides, Andrea Westrick, said, “Just sit down and go.”
She was right. When you sat down into the harness you are wearing instead of jumping off the platform, it was much easier. There was no momentary drop or sinking feeling. You just took off down the line feeling secure and elated. It was a thrill and indeed a rush, but a good one.
Once over the initial uncertainty of flying through the treetops and walking across narrow rope ladders in high the trees, it was a blast.
My companions, a couple from Indiana and a local Boyne City resident, had never done a zip line tour before and were elated with the experience. Not unlike me, heights made the wife Laura a little nervous.
“It was a gut check on that first platform, but once you lift off, the thrill takes over any trepidation. I’m really enjoying this,” she enthused. We had reached the fourth zip line on our tour.
At the fifth station she saw a couple of deer below in the valley while crossing on the zip line, which the guides said is fairly frequent with quiet, smaller groups.
“No ‘wee, wee, weeing,’ like the little pig in the Geico commercials,” laughed guide Wesley Ricker.
There are nine stations in all on a full tour, which takes about two-and-a-half to three hours to complete. I have done a couple of other zip line tours in the Midwest, and there is nothing else like this around the Great Lakes. More in line with western zip line tours, it’s a canopy tour as well. You are high in the trees, but never off of a safety line securing you to cables. It’s a very safe experience.
There are five “sky” bridges connecting the nine zip lines, spanning more than a mile-and-a-half tour over the ridges and through the trees. Jaw-dropping views of Lake Charlevoix can be seen from five of the tree platforms. It’s also an eco-friendly tour as the guides clue you in to the trees and foliage around you. All cables are secured to trees in a non-lethal way so as not to damage them.
There is over 5,000 feet of zip lines, the longest being 1,200 feet, which is the last line. You reach speeds up to 40 mph racing down the wire from a high ridge to a twostory platform at the bottom of the hill. A reliable braking system slows you down as you reach the platform, and a guide is there to help steady you as you land.
Reservations are required for the canopy tours, which are available seven days a week through October. With all the hardwood trees in the area, fall would be a surreal experience flying through the colorful foliage.
No reservations are required for single rides on the 1,200 foot Triple Zip Line, which is also the one that ends the canopy tour. It’s open daily on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. The full canopy tour is $75 per person, and the Triple Zip is $20 for one ride and $35 for three.
For more information and reservations you can log onto www.wildwoodrush.com.
I can’t wait to go again.