Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Ziplining a life experience. Who knew?

Our brave group of travel writers.
There’s something terrifying about climbing high above treetops and jumping off. It’s not the worry about falling to my death. Because I understand that two levels of ziplining cables, the trolleys and the double carabiners will protect me. What I feared most was having to brake myself at the other end.

My first ziplining experience was in North Carolina where a group of us zipped through several lines as snow softly fell. It was both exhilarating and horrifying, because as much as I enjoyed flying through the winter air and viewing the gorgeous mountain scenery I kept spinning and forgetting how to brake at the other end. The guides assured me they would catch me if I failed, but the first time I screwed up my brake and rammed into the guy. Which was enough to scare anyone off the sport.
Bill and Erin, our trusted guides

Later, I would zipline without the need to self-brake and loved that so much better. I started gaining confidence and would gladly raise my hand when the offer to zipline emerged.

Until last month. 

A group of travel writers — me included — were invited to zip through the canopy of Adventures Unlimited near Milton, Florida, in Santa Rosa County, an attraction that also offers cabin accommodations and paddling down Coldwater Creek, one of the most pristine waterways in the state — and one that I highly recommend enjoying. As we walked to our first run, I was told that self-braking was in store, but no worries, they would explain and all would be fine. Guess what? After listening intently to the instructions, I stuck my hand in front of the trolley to brake — it goes behind — and screwed up my brake on the first run. I ended up stumbling horribly, then stopping before the platform, having to turn and pull myself in.

Are you kidding me?
“I don’t worry about you,” our guide Bill told me. “I can tell you have no fear so you’ll be fine.”

Was he blind?

Our next run was a LONG climb up, so my second attempt was frighteningly high, as in seeing magnolia blooms at the TOP of trees. I couldn’t imagine stepping off that platform. I asked to go last — as if that would help. And then I stood there like a zombie, staring off into the trees hiding the next platform where Bill waited, a man who believed I had no fear.

“You can do it,” said Erin, the other guide who waited patiently behind me.

“No, I can’t,” I thought, but I walked off anyway, flying through the air like a fool but not spinning and remembering to brake the cable above my head, but this time behind me. I actually slowed the dang thing down and slipped into my guide’s arms without a problem. I don’t know who was more excited, that man or me.

Me finally learning to zip.
It took a few more attempts before I felt confident, but by the seventh run, a long, delicious stretch that veers over Coldwater Creek, I actually enjoyed the run, stopped thinking too much about my braking and started relishing the scenery. As we walked back to the outpost with our gear beating against our legs and our bandanas glued to our humid foreheads, I was a new woman.

I came. I ziplined. I braked!

Want to see Bill easily flying over Coldwater Creek? Click here for my Facebook post.

For more information on Adventures Unlimited, visit Be sure and stay the night, enjoy the cabins and paddle the that gorgeous creek.

Coldwater Creek at Adventures Unlimited

We're actually happy at the end. We did it!
Cheré Dastugue Coen is a travel and food writer from South Louisiana who appreciates the weird and wild side of life. She actually ziplined over alligators near Shreveport (read about it here), but the braking there was easier. Write to her at

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