I am afraid of heights. I did not want to do this. However, if I ever want to be on The Amazing Race, I have to be able to do stuff like this (and even more extreme).
When the first obstacle we encountered was a 30-foot rock wall we had to climb, I knew I was in over my head. Holy shit. 30-feet is high! Maya went before me or Wayne, and she was so confident--until she got about halfway up. Halfway up, she had a hard time finding footing, so she was kind of stuck. She got through it, though! I was so impressed! My baby is almost 12, and she is getting so grown.
I got about 2/3 of the way up the wall before I froze. I simply didn't know where to put my foot! I wanted to stop right then, but I actually found my footing and continued on. Once I got to the top, I had to go ahead of Maya, which meant I was the first one from our trio to go on one of the ziplines. Did I mention that I am afraid of heights? I didn't care that I was secured by a harness and safety lines. Nope. I did not want to do it. I have to say, the staff who works at the challenge course is really encouraging (even though one of the guys smelled like weed). A staff member, who was probably 18, was on the ground encouraging me to jump off the platform to do the zipline. I thought, well, here goes nothing...
and I went. Ohmygosh. That was exhilarating! The setting is absolutely perfect for a zipline challenge course. Northwest Trek is situated within 500 acres that was donated 40 years ago, and the area where the challenge course is located is lush with greenery and has plenty of tall trees (doug fir) to work with.
I cannot reiterate enough how impressed I was by Maya's strength and courage during this course. There were a few times that I thought she would not go any further, but she just plowed ahead. Totally proved me wrong. Luckily, I was ahead of her and Wayne was behind her because there is no way that I could encourage her the way Wayne did while also trying to keep my own self going ahead. I pretty much abandoned Maya to let him handle her. He had no qualms about the course, so I knew it wouldn't overtax his psyche to have that role with her.
On the very first zipline, Maya didn't quite make it to the platform, so she actually went backwards all the way to the middle of the zipline, which was really far. She had to go hand-over-hand and pull herself back to the platform; however, she noticed a deer in the underbrush, so rather than freak out that she was stuck halfway into a zipline hanging 30+ feet in the air, she was screaming, "I SEE A DEER!! THERE"S A DEER!!!" She was so excited, and the deer was completely unimpressed. Maya got back to the platform, and that was the last zipline issue she had.
There was one part that I just wanted to skip. I simply did not want to do it at all, but I eventually got through it. This area was also where Maya had the most trouble; she cried. But she powered through it faster than I was able to go! I was so proud of her.
When we did the final zipline, I was so relieved. So happy. I was also so proud that all of us got through it! Maya and I had huge surges of adrenaline throughout the course. It was, at times, overwhelming. I don't think Wayne was as ruffled as we were. He's always so calm and confident.
After the zipline, we went on the tram. We have been to Northwest Trek probably 10 times (or more) in our lives, but this had to be the best tram tour ever. The bison are in rut, and rut makes animals particularly unpredictable. There was a bull bison in the middle of the tram path, and he would not move. He was protecting a cow bison, and he just would not move for anything. The tram driver kept saying, "I don't want to piss him off!" It was so funny. The keeper had to drive out in his truck and get the bison to move, which they finally did. We saw moose, mountain goats, big horn sheep, caribou, elk, and more, I'm sure. Deer. Yes, lots of deer :-)
Once we finished the tram tour, we were ready to leave. We were hungry, and to be honest, I was a little post-adrenaline exhausted. We finished our perfect day (and it really was) with dinner at Red Robin and frozen yogurt at Menchie's.
I would highly recommend the zipline challenge course at Northwest Trek; it's expensive ($40/person + regular admission costs), but it was really worth every penny. It's too bad that one can't pay for only the zipline challenge course since we really didn't check out the Trek except for the tram, which we did only because it began right after we finished the zipline challenge course. I'm glad we went on the tram tour, but I would have been happy to leave right after finishing the course.
Would we do it again? Yes! Northwest Trek has completed an Extreme Challenge Course, which will be open in September, but the staff has already done it several times. We saw some of the obstacles, and they do look very challenging. I don't know if my old heart is up for an extreme challenge!! However, I think Wayne is already planning for all of us to go. I honestly thought the ziplines were going to be the hardest part of this experience, but the obstacles were definitely harder for me.
As I said earlier, I was very impressed with the staff. They were helpful, knowledgeable, and encouraging. When Maya was stuck, a staff member came right to the area where we were, and she just kept encouraging Maya. Once Maya was back on the platform, the staff member radioed back to whomever that she was safe on the platform. It feels like you're out there by yourself (or with your group), but really, there is always staff quietly watching to make sure everything is okay. When you have doubts ("I can't do this!"), they are great at making sure they know you can do it, which really boosts one's confidence.
I'm so glad Wayne made us do this, and I'm really happy that I didn't whine my way out of doing it.
Waiting to start
The test course before you begin the real course
Test course, again, with the rock wall in the background
Test course. The girl behind Wayne had to go three times because she kept forgetting to attach both her caribiners to the safety line.
Starting the rock wall.
Maya stuck in the middle of the zipline.
Getting ready to walk the tightrope.
Yelling at me, "STOP VIDEORECORDING ME!"
Walking the tightrope.
Touching ground again after 90 minutes in the trees!
We survived...and we'd do it again!