“Should I give you a little surprise push?” Brianna asked. “Yes,” I squeaked with as much confidence as I could muster at the moment. Suddenly my feet were out from under me and I was in the air. Then I felt the straps catch me and I realized I was flying along. I actually had time to start enjoying looking out over the cliffs and the mighty blue Columbia River. At 52 years old I was on a zip line for the first time in my life and I was loving it!
I’m a nervous-nelly, a worry-wart. So I’m obviously not a dare-devil or any kind of extreme sport person. But last summer David, Josh and I had the opportunity to try out the new Tunnel Zip Lines just outside of the town of Chelan in central Washington. Since I had never been on one before, I stressed about it for days because the brochure said, “…an 880-foot sheer drop from one of the cliffs down to the highway.” Sheer drops are normally not my idea of a good time.
We had reservations for 4:00 and arrived right on time. We spent several minutes talking to Loretta Kelley, who, along with husband, Richard, own the zip line. She proudly explained that the zip line was all his idea. Currently there are four lines and they plan to expand that over the next two years, and will also expand to include a winery, wine tasting room and viewing patio which will look out over the river.
We met our guides, Brianna Larson, Trever Larkin, and Joey Frazier, along with our fellow “zippers”, Lisa Lingenfelter and her daughters, 15-year-old Brooklyn, 13-year-old Alison and 11-year-old, Madison. “Are you scared?” I asked them. Lisa wasn’t, she had zipped before in Mexico. Alison was really nervous. OK, that made me feel better, I was as nervous as a 13-year-old but if she could do it so could I.
We got our gear on and first went on a practice line. I liked this one – it just went straight across for a few feet. Then Richard picked all of us up in a van and drove us up to the next station. Along the way he gave us a little history lesson about some of the old items on the property such as “The Teacher’s Cabin” that gave us a fascinating look at the past.
We arrived at the second station. The three girls went first. “Good job, Peanut!” Lisa shouted to her daughter. OK, I thought, if Peanut can do it so can I. However, Josh went after the girls and there was a little glitch with the brake after he landed. So for safety considerations, Lisa, David and I walked back down and up another small hill to get to the second station so we could zip to the third station. This time, no problems and we all completed it. I was feeling pretty good. But now was the time for that 880-foot drop. David went first. My turn. The line did not go straight down a sheer cliff like I had imagined but I was still having second thoughts. Oh, but I couldn’t chicken out in front of the kids, could I? Brianna hooked me up and noticed my hesitation. “Should I give you a little surprise push?”
And I was flying – freely and safely. My fears were all for nothing. It was simply fun. At the end I asked the girls if they had fun and they all eagerly said yes, their fears were gone as well. It will be exciting to go back in 2014 to try out the new lines that will be added and see all the Kelley’s other plans take shape.
Getting there: Tunnel Zip Lines is located at 19840 Hwy. 97A, Chelan, WA 98816 (509) 682-0152. From Chelan, go south on Hwy. 97A for about three miles to just before the tunnel. Tunnel Zip Lines will be on the left. From Wenatchee go north on Hwy. 97A for about 32 miles and just past the tunnel, the zip line will be on the right. www.tunnelziplines.com
A word of caution: If you have any back or neck problem, make sure to discuss it with the guides. The last line jerks you a bit as you hit the brake at the top, so depending on your medical issues, you may want to skip the 4th line.
Note: As is common in the travel industry, we were provided with complimentary admission for the purpose of review. While this has not influenced this review, we believe in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.