A New Tree Climbing Experience: Not For Kids Only
An Amazing Aerial Adventure
Tree2Tree Adventure Park opened spring 2016 on the grounds of the Cape May County Zoo. It took the entire summer for me to gain the courage to try it out. This September I climbed my first tree, jumped from mini platform to mini platform, got good at clipping and un-clipping safety latches, and ended the day courageously jumping out on five increasingly descending zip lines.
It’s not an experience for the faint of heart, but it is a bucket list experience for sure. Having never done zip lines, Outward Bound, or even 5K runs, this relatively sedentary gym rat (I limit myself to seated weight machines rather than treadmills), learned that it’s never too late to unleash your inner Tarzan or Jane.
I am thankful that I’ve spent the last two years at the gym gaining a minimal level of fitness to at least attempt the park. The park is made up of five fitness courses labelled blue, green, red, silver and zip line, with each colored course increasingly harder, higher, or more challenging. Many first timers like myself stop after the blue course, however after seeing my younger compatriots take on the green course, I am somewhat regretful I didn’t move on, but someone had to get the water bottles!
Park guides state that you know when it’ time to quit. I stopped after the blue more from thirst and heat than the course, and I do recommend that older participants take breaks to find water. It’s likely not smart to sit down on a lovely park bench, because once down, it’s hard to convince yourself to not only get up, but climb up a 10 or 20 ft. tree again. Wisely, the park guides state that once you say you’re done and take off your harness, they don’t let you gear up again. They intrinsically trust your own initial body intuition. If you even once say “enough is enough,” they take you at your word. Don’t cry “uncle” unless you’re 100% sure you’re done for the day.
Even if you opt out of the other colored courses at any time, if you keep your harness on, you can always still do the zip line at the end of the park. Calling it a zip line is somewhat of a misnomer as it’s five separate zip lines. Having my only prior zip line experience been the very low training course at the beginning of the park, I was not prepared for the amazing height of the first line. It took lots of coaxing by my guide and one of my tree swinging partners already on the far platform to take the leap into the air. I had to close my eyes to push off. There was just no other way for me to take flight. However, by the third platform, I could jump off with eyes open. It helps to know that each zip line is ever lower to the ground. Once you’ve done the first, you’ve done the “worst,” or highest, longest and best depending on your personal point of view.
I didn’t know that an adventure park experience was on my bucket list, but it now is and has been crossed off. That said, I could easily be convinced to go again. The green course is calling my name as again the zip lines.
Tree2Tree is a seasonal adventure park that will stay open in the fall as long as the weather allows. Spring and Fall are great times to try the park as a cool breeze is very welcome while you work up your own inner heat from the high wire balancing act you didn’t know you had in you. Reservations are required as you must have guides assigned to watch, coach and encourage you along. All equipment is checked twice daily, and all wires are said to be military grade. It’s a small, but much needed comfort when somewhere during the course your fear center kicks in and you wonder if you’re truly safe. You are. My moment came when I was afraid of holding on to my carabiner on the zip line, not trusting my own upper body strength. Chris, my guide, then informed me that I really didn’t need to hold on at all. The carabiner clip and zip line would hold my body weight for me, and could even hold a car. I don’t know if the latter is true, but the first was and by the fifth line I was arms out while zipping away for the true flying experience!