Next in the Pedro-likes-thrills series is ziplining in southern Oregon last month. So, MY idea was to go to Ashland for Shakespeare. That’s the kind of stuff I think of to do. But…we had all day on Thursday to get to Ashland, which is only a 5-hour drive. I found a ziplining company along the way. I know my man loves thrills, so I asked if he wanted to do that. Of course he did.
It was super easy to make a reservation online with Rogue Valley Zipline Adventure. I called instead because they have discounts for military, students, and AAA, and I have all three. (Luckily I still don’t qualify for the senior discount) They asked us to plan for 2-3 hours for the entire thing. They do not have a big facility or room for parking up on the hill where their adventures happen, so they ask people to park at the bottom of the hill at a golf course parking lot. We parked, and found a bathroom, and chatted with other adventurers while we waited. Then the van showed up and our ziplining guide hopped out and started taking our names and weighing us. The weights help them choose the right gear for us. Then we hopped into the van and rode up the hill to our start location.
This zipline company says it’s one of only three in the United States that is equipped to help people who are unable to walk go ziplining. They can assist people who use wheelchairs into the harnesses, and let them fly through the air just like anybody. I think this is awesome. I’m going to add it to my mental list of Outdoor Things I Can Do When My Legs Give Out. Up till now my list only had wheelchair-friendly hikes, but now there’s a wheelchair-friendly high flying adventure company! And it goes without saying, they can handle kids too – this is a good choice for family adventure.
On the deck of the General Store (you can see the edge of the deck in the photo above, on the right of the building) we received lessons while we put on our harnesses. They quickly and clearly went through all the rules, the frequently asked questions, the safety procedures, the protocols, all with many quips and puns thrown in. This included a list of potential poses we could strike while zipping through the air. Then the two guides went from person to person, checking each harness and helmet to make sure we were all snugly put together properly.
Then we began hiking up the hill. It was a decent hike, and it made me wonder about the hypothetical person using a wheelchair, or their person who helped with pushing. Oof. But we did all reach the first platform with ease, albeit in varying degrees of being out of breath.
Now I saw how people using wheelchairs could manage this. The guides do EVERYTHING for you, short of pushing you off the platform. You stand still, they hook you up, check your connections, radio the person on the other end, ask your zip name, and then give you permission to go. We each picked a ziplining name, and then we were announced each time we flew. On the second one, they told us we could actually pick a new zip name for each zipline. I picked Appa, Aang’s sky bison from the show Avatar the Last Airbender. I thought a flying bison would be a good name for me, and I stuck with it the whole time. No one had heard of it. Ah well. I amused myself. Pedro chose Il Cabroni, the Italian version of our joke name for him, El Cabroncito. Nobody got that either, but at least they pronounced it better than Appa.
On the other end, the other guide “catches” you with some sort of apparatus on the line, then pulls you in, then disconnects you and connects you to the next line, all while telling you the things you did wrong or right. You are not allowed to touch anything or do anything for yourself except launch yourself, but only when they say so. It was unlike previous ziplining I had done, where I was by myself and hooked and unhooked myself and jumped and stopped myself. Anyway, like I said, I see how ANYONE could do this safely. I highly recommend this company to anyone who is nervous because there is no way anything will go wrong when professionals handle each step.
The scenery was really beautiful. We enjoyed the dry forest filled with Madrones and Manzanita, and the occasional expansive views of the valley below. Once in the ziplining course, there was not a lot of walking between most of the lines – no walking at all for one of them. The very last line required a short but quite steep climb.
I was having a lot of fun. Ziplining is not too scary for me. The first part is a little bit scary, right when you kick off the platform. But after that, the sailing through the air part, that part I love. It’s never long enough.
You are securely connected to the wires above you, and you can feel its hold on you because the harness wraps around your butt and your chest and back. You are out there alone, peaceful, in the air at tree height, whooshing through with a breeze in your hair. I let out a whoop! a few times, and laughed when I lazily drifted around backwards so I couldn’t see where I was going. You can reach out to touch a branch, or swing your legs, or let go with both hands, or hang on with both. You can lean your head back and stare at the sky. Whatever you want, you are safe, and it is over in seconds.
The time goes by quickly, especially when your group is smaller. They can take up to 14 people in a group I think they said. Ours was 6 people, which made it go quickly in between turns. Rogue Valley Ziplining Adventures goes year-round and they said the busy season is over. So if you want to try them out during the winter months, you’ll get the more exciting, smaller group tours.
Our last zipline was the 5th one of the day. They said it was an average of about 32 seconds long in the air. That is a really long time and it was by far my favourite of the day. Just me and the trees out there. I was so happy. But finally I hit the final platform and was pulled in and disconnected.
Then we were all hyped up on adrenalin and it was time to head back down. We were only a short walk from the Saloon and General Store from there. We got all our gear off, bought souvenirs, then piled into the van for the ride back down again.
Then we drove the rest of the way to Ashland and checked in with our Airbnb and got ready for two solid days of plays and culture.