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My first zip experience

Published: Wednesday, July 23, 2014 12:23 p.m. CST

My job as a reporter takes me on some pretty fun and extreme adventures. There is really never a dull day in this career.

The job, however, has never challenged me emotionally and physically as much as it did a couple weeks ago.

I was assigned to write a feature on ziplining at Echo Bluff Park. It’s something I’ve been waiting to write about, so when the opportunity finally fell into my lap, I was super excited.

Upon scheduling my interview with the zipline instructors, I was asked to take a complimentary zip to try out the thrill.

With an opportunity like that, I knew this assignment would definitely top my favorites.

I have never zipped before, but I have seen pictures from others who have tried out the sport. Based on these pictures, I had a pretty good idea what I was getting myself into.

For those who don’t know what ziplining is, check out my feature in today’s edition of the Illinois Valley Scene.

On the day of the assignment, I met up with the zipline instructors, and they took me out to where the zipline stands. I got my first look at the 33-foot high climb to the top of the platform, where the zipliners kickoff. The zipline itself is 250 feet long.

As I harnessed up and strapped on my helmet, one instructor attached me to a cord that would hold me in the air if I happened to slip off the pole during my climb to the platform.

The whole experience felt safe and secure, and as I started to climb the pole, I was thankful to have acquired some good Crossfit skills in the last couple months, or else I might not have had the strength to climb.

At the top, another instructor strapped me into place and sat me on my bottom at the edge of the platform.

At this point, my palms began to sweat, and I could feel the blood pumping in my ears. I quickly looked around at my surroundings and noticed the tops of trees all around. Boy, from the air, it seemed higher than what I expected.

The instructor strapped my camera on my harness. The plan was to shoot photos as I was flying through the air.

My feet dangled nervously from the platform as I heard the instructor tell me I was set to scoot off the platform and begin zipping.

This is when things got emotionally hard for me. Free falling has never been a favorite thing for me, and to push myself into a free fall was a much harder task than I had imagined. I hesitated for minutes as the instructors spoke their words of encouragement. There was no turning back at this point.

I squeezed the camera in my sweaty hands, took a deep gulp and with every ounce of courage, pushed off from the platform.

My eyes were closed, but I heard the air rushing by and felt my body moving fast on the line. Halfway through the zip, I remembered I had a camera and was supposed to be taking pictures. My fingers began snapping pictures like crazy, I figured at least one would capture the experience I was having at that particular moment.

Once I was back on safe ground, I was met with a sense of accomplishment, and I smiled at the thought of overcoming that hesitation at the top.

Walking back to my car to leave from the interview is when I was met with my biggest struggle about the experience — it wasn’t climbing to the top of the 33-foot pole; it wasn’t pushing off from the platform; it wasn’t zipping 250 feet in the air — by far, the worst thing was realizing my cap had been covering my camera lens during my zip and the pictures I took in the air were nothing but black squares on my camera.

So to summarize the experience, it clearly was memorable, but as for the photos ... well, I guess you’ll just have to trust me on this one.

BCR Staff Writer Goldie Currie can be reached at gcurrie@bcrnews.com.

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