…continued from Sonoma Zipline Exhilaration! Part I

From platform three we graduated quickly from “warming up” to “hair-raising”. This zip was much farther, spanning a 300 foot deep ravine! “Relax a bit, let your left hand hang, and take a look down on this one”, we were advised. Hmm. Ok. As one person stood on the log he said “I’m not going to lie. I’m scared sh*tless right now.” It was a thrilling ride. As I soared through the air the sound of the trolley on the cable made an increasingly high pitched whine. I let out a loud “WHOO HOO!” and took a quick look down. It was high but my mind was too caught up in the moment to dwell on it. I looked forward and skimmed my helmet along the underneath of the cable. Breaking took even longer but I reached the platform smoothly. I had a light feeling inside, that sense of elation that comes with doing something you weren’t supposed to do.

The next zip is something of a blur. I remember the views but the exhilaration of the last ride seemed to be carrying me along. It was something of a respite between “WHOO HOO” and what turned out to be “WHOA!”

Leaving the fifth platform you couldn’t see your destination. It was 800 feet away! A tree branch seemed to be hanging right over the line but beyond that I couldn’t see what was coming. We were advised to curl up into a cannonball to keep our momentum so we could make it all of the way to the platform. One by one we were off, legs tucked in. Confidence was up at this point but as my trolley screamed along the cable I felt my eyes widen. It was only a matter of seconds but the ride felt long. I looked down towards the platform as it got closer. That was the “WHOA” moment. The moisture in the air was whipping into my face making me blink frequently. Without thinking I unrolled from the cannonball, waiting for the break sign. I felt sure I was going to slam into everyone. Instinctively, I put my hand in front of my trolley and touched the cable. No! I quickly corrected myself and, at the break signal, pressed hard. Sure enough the cable swooped down at the end, slowing the ride quickly, and Luke had to reach out to pull me to the platform. Whew.

The final two ziplines were shorter, interrupted by a 30 foot spiral staircase up a redwood tree and two long bouncy suspension bridges through the forest. You could feel the excited energy from the group; that smug satisfaction of having gotten through the most challenging part of the course. The early tension was gone and we were free to just enjoy the natural beauty of the redwood forest. The final thrill of the day was the 80 foot rappel from the last platform. There were some deep breaths and long pauses as we took turns swinging out over the edge and gently lowering ourselves down to the end of our adventure.

In the end I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. It was a fun group of people on the zipline that day, all of us momentarily bonded by an adrenalin rushing experience. We lucked out with a great pair of guides too. Luke and Joey kept us swiftly and safely moving through the course, always giving us a heads up about what was going to happen, interjecting interesting facts about our natural surroundings, and providing ready entertainment from quirky humor to unexpected beatboxing. Even the cool drizzly weather turned out to be an asset, making the zipline even faster! My first zipline adventure at Sonoma Canopy Tours has definitely given me, as advertised, the “memory of a lifetime.”