Hip on the Zip

Photos and experience by W.A. Davis and M. Gallagher

They say that the young are fearless and the old are fearful. We tested all sides for the truth of this axiom while recently checking out the ZipQuest Adventure Center in Fayetteville, North Carolina created and built by S.T.E.P.S., Inc., a challenge course construction company.

Tucked away among acres of trees and fauna on an old family farm this site includes the only waterfall in eastern North Carolina. We, a perfect multi-generational group of two females 60 and 40, myself a 60 year old male, and a thirteen year old boy, checked in at the visitors center which includes a small souvenir shop.

After meeting our two guides we moved to a staging area where they helped us into our “zip” gear, including helmets, gloves and a multi strap parachute style harness. Tightly but comfortably “harnessed “ our guides explained what the next two and one half hours would have in store for us with the words “Well your feet won’t be touching the ground for quite a while!” And they did not.

A safety and instruction lesson is given to each participant on a ground level line so one gets the feel of the harness and how to slow down , reverse and self rescue if necessary. Then it was forward to the first raised platform.

The first “zip” is the real test of our ambitions. Each participant in our group was a little nervous as we stood on a “launch” log ready to leap into the air. The guides really give you a sense of security with their continuous training and watchful eyes plus you’re tethered to a safety line that only allows one to fall a few feet if you back off a platform or happen to let go. After the adrenalin rush of the first ride it seemed everyone wanted to go first, zipping through forest and over streams. My fearfulness as a somewhat older person evaporated and it felt like I had recaptured “my long lost youth” as the poet Longfellow said.

All of North Carolina’s seven or more zip line courses follow a similar pattern of platforms and wiggley “rope” style walking bridges. ZipQuest has 13 platforms and three “rope” walking bridges which eventually go higher and higher until the next to last line gives one a ride over the only waterfall in eastern North Carolina and it is spectacular. The good news is by that time we were all confident enough in our zipping and bridge walking abilities to look down for good views of the falls.

Keep in mind you should be in reasonable physical shape to complete the zip line course. Generally speaking if you are able to walk a mile you’ll be fine. There are age (over 10) and weight (under 260 lbs) restrictions at ZipQuest and most other sites have similar requirements.

Casual loose comfortable clothing is recommended and some sites have more specific rules. I don’t think it would be wise to be too “bare” because of the harness and you are in a forest, long loose hair styles or open toed shoes are generally not allowed. It was nearing 100 degrees when we finished our adventure but water stations on various platforms kept us hydrated.

Be sure to secure your camera with a good strap. Any other personal items you’ll want to leave in the car. Everyone is required to sign a waiver of liability and if you are bringing children under the age of 18 who are not yours be sure to download the waiver from the website and have their parents sign it.

Fayetteville was recently listed as one of the most “American” style cities to visit in the United States with its rich historical and cultural venues and ZipQuest is a great addition to its attractions.

You’ll enjoy nature with your family and friends of all ages for a few hours in a new way with minimal training and no equipment purchase. The zip line sites in North Carolina continue to add more features, and plan special events for Halloween, night zips and other occasions. Birthday parties for teens would be a blast!

See the websites listed below for more information.

ZipQuest.com Fayetteville A variety of seasonal events throughout the year to coincide with fall foliage, spring birding migration and the like are planned.

Kerseyvalleyzipline.com. Greensboro This is a closed course that starts and ends on the same Sky Tower. The tour takes guest across 15 Sky Towers on a 1.5 mile long tour over the Maize Adventure corn maze and at night over their haunted attraction through laser light effects.

Richlandcreekzipline.com Asheboro At the base of Purgatory Mountain in Asheboro Special events for Halloween October 28, 29, 30th

Carolinaziplines.com Winston-Salem/Greensboro Opt for the “high course” or “the Web” tour, which is great for groups or kids. Offering a Lantern Light Tour at Night for groups of 8.

Screamtimezipline.com Boone NC Home to the first triple-wide 2,000-foot line an add-on to the standard six-line tour.

Bigwoodszipline.com Located at Sanders Ridge Winery in the Yadkin Valley. Then toast your bravery with one of Sanders Ridge’s award-winning vinifera or muscadine wines.

Go to www.visitnc.com/journeys/articles/hang-gliding-skydiving-parachuting-ziplines for even more locations.

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