Shirley goes to new heights
Going Ape in Delaware exposes a reporter's sensibilities [video]
Go Ape, a treetop adventure course, opened at Lums Pond State Park three months ago, and it’s taken me three months to work up the nerve to get up into the trees and actually do the course.
Let me start by saying, I completed the course. It wasn’t pretty, but I did it!
The treetop adventure course zig zags across Lums Pond, with 400 to 700 foot ziplines, rope bridges, Tarzan swings and other obstacles that take you upwards of 50 feet in the air.
I would not consider myself a thrill seeker; I hate roller coasters, and other rides that drop multiple stories. Yes, I have ridden pirate ships and free falls at amusement parks in the past, but while everyone else is screaming, laughing with their arms in the air, I’m in a cold sweat, frozen with fear, white knuckling the safety bar and not making a peep. Therefore, the idea of stepping off of a high platform embedded within the canopy of the trees didn’t really seem like ‘my thing.’
“We encourage you to try it out at very minimum,” Brian Bailey, Go Ape Delaware’s site manager told me. “Usually once people get up there and they sit in their harness for the first time, a lot of the fears get shed away.”
I enlisted the help and moral support from coworker Mark Eichmann. I figured bring him along in case I chicken out last minute. That way, I would at least get some point-of-view video from the course.
Nervous throughout the 30-minute training, I learned how to ‘always stay attached,’ because Go Ape employees aren’t stationed at each challenge. Once you start the course, it’s just you, the tree and the obstacle before you.
Ready for the real thing, right?
Training is done and as I climb up a wood/rope ladder to get to the first platform, I keep telling myself, ‘Don’t think, just do.’ The first obstacle was a Tarzan swing, where I swing into a cargo net and use my out-of-shape arms and legs to climb up to the platform. That first step was rough, but again, ‘Don’t think, just do,’ and next thing I knew, I was climbing up the net. I DID IT!
After walking across wires like a member of the Wallenda family and traversing tentatively across wobbly bridges, I made it to the first zipline. Maybe 20+ feet above ground, that darn first step was, once again, the tough part. And I think Mark can back me up on that. Once I took that leap of faith, or in my case, step of faith, I soon learned how much fun zip-lining is! Now if only I could perfect the landings. Mark can definitely back me up on that!
Mark and I worked our way through the course as the challenges got higher and the ziplines longer. Shooting across Lums Pond, I saw a bunch of turtles and it was a really beautiful way to check out this Delaware State Park. Next thing we knew, it was two hours later and we had completed the course.
All in all, I am so glad I did it. What a great experience and I will go again. And from the sounds of it, Go Ape will be sticking around.
“We have people coming out every weekend,” Bailey said. “And then weekdays tend to fill up with people just showing up to try it out, or people who are in the park already and decide, ‘Hey, this is something that’s pretty cool, we’d like to try it out.’
Mark edited a video of our experience at Go Ape for you to enjoy. But some advice from a former scaredy cat: ‘Don’t think, just do,’ you'll thank yourself for it. I did.