Well, the day finally arrived.
When we began planning this holiday, Dad expressed a strong desire to go zip lining. An 83-year-old hanging high above the ground on skinny wires? He knows no fear! So who would go with him? Mom? Not in this lifetime! The Kid? Just as unlikely. She has trouble climbing stairs with her cane! Well, that leaves me. Am I up to it? I sure hoped I would be!
So, this morning Dad and I headed out before daylight to check in for our zip lining adventure. Only about a 20-minute drive from our condo, Flyin’ Hawaiian is considered to be the most extreme zip lining course on Maui (there are several other companies in various parts of the Island). I had been impressed with the reviews and the length of the course. They have eight zip lines ranging in length from 250 to 3,600 feet in length. 3,600!!! That’s two-thirds of a mile. On one zip line, we floated across 650 feet of nothingness (that is, the valley below us was 650 feet down). The course travels along the lower eastern slopes of the West Maui Mountains from north to south. On a good day, the views would be spectacular.
We checked in at about 6:45 am, signing a waiver that would protect the zip line company from every possible happenstance — from a hangnail to catastrophic failure of the lines — we were fitted out in our harnesses. This company uses sophisticated full-body suits that make for very, very comfortable zipping. We weren’t at any time constricted by tight wires or cords. An excellent system! Even the helmets fitted me (I seldom wear hats becaue I can never find them big enough)! Our group was small on this day with only four other participants. We were accompanied by three guides — strong, friendly and local. They were just terrific!
Our adventure started with a brief ride up the mountainside in a shuttle bus. At the starting platform, the guides gave us some instruction and prepared us for our first zip — the shortest and most gentle, a training run.
To be honest, I never really had time to be afraid. Our group was small, so zipping happened rather quickly and smoothly. There were no greatly fearful people, so we didn’t have any blood curdling screams. It was all quite matter of fact, but thrilling just the same!
After our first training zip (Dad kept forgetting to lift his feet), we faced a relay of rides further up the mountainside in an ATV that seated a maximum of five. Dad and I were in the first group and, once we arrived at the top of the narrow, twisting, rough, rough, rough track, the guides pointed us to the trail that headed further straight up the hillside to the first true zip platform. I was glad we had that head start because the climb was a challenge for both of us. Neither of us is terribly in shape, although healthy and able. I found carrying the equipment we were given was difficult. This equipment is what you hang from as you glide along the zip line. The weight (about 15 pounds) wasn’t the issue so much as the fact that it completely threw me off balance as I struggled up what passed for a trail up the hill.
Eventually, we made it to the top and stumbled onto the viewing platform. The day was beautiful and perfect for our adventure! The sun was peaking over Haleakala (the volcano across the valley from us). Eventually, as we zipped from platform to platform across the mountain gorges, we could see both north and south shores of Maui simultaneously. Just exhilarating. The guides and other participants kept an eye on Dad. I’m sure they were worried he’d keel over because of his age. But, in fact, he did better than I did with my wonky knees. The guides called Dad “Brah Rick” and “Slick Rick.”
My brother, Steven, had lent us his GoPro for this trip and especially for this adventure. You can watch some of our zips here: http://youtu.be/S9O9mpofJVw, http://youtu.be/I5CqXyH64JE, http://youtu.be/5TYo5kCbeh0, http://youtu.be/dYqngQvphRQ, http://youtu.be/Ca5HG1fa-A4.
When we’d finished the last zip, we were pretty tired, hot and sweaty. We climbed into that small ATV that had brought us up the mountain at the beginning of the course and was now waiting for us miles away at the end of the course. Then began our last adventure of the morning — going DOWN the mountain on a spectacularly badly rutted track. Watch some of the process here: http://youtu.be/2wFD7_EzDeY.
When we finally arrived back at our condo, we zoomed down to the pool and hot tub for some wonderful recovery time.
This was a most excellent adventure and I’m so glad Dad wanted to go zip lining. I probably wouldn’t have chosen it on my own. And Slick Rick is happy we did it, too!