Tag Archives: courage

Ziplining Just Like Real Housewives


Adventure Zip Big Sky, MT

High Thrill No Skill

I’m a stepmom. So when my step-daughter wants to go ziplining, I oblige. After all, that’s the beauty of being a stepmom. I get to have all the fun and not (as much) of the responsibility. I’m like a really close aunt to the very best 11 year old in the universe.

On a recent trip to Big Sky, Montana, Evelyn wasn’t the only one encouraging me to try the new Adventure Zip. The employees were proud of this new four line trip that included a traverse 200 feet high, a rappel and the chance for some great photo ops.

Ziplining is fun, but it isn’t scary. I’ve always thought it a bit pedestrian–a high thrill, no skill activity for people who don’t live and play in the outdoors. But still, I was game. Especially since my step-daughter really really wanted to zip with me. How could I refuse?

When our small group of clients and guides met to don our full-body harnesses and helmets, I was a little surprised by the fear rising from the group. At first I wondered if I had signed up for something else. But no, this was the Adventure Zip–four cable rides through the trees of the lower slopes of the ski area. How hard could it be?

If The Real Housewives Can Do It…

I’m inspired by people who face their fears. And when I met Laura and Janet–two sisters from New York City–I almost envied them their fear. Jacked up on adrenaline, these two women twittered nervously on the chairlift ride and short hike to the first line. Having grown up in the city, Laura only recently learned to drive a car. And ziplining was definitely not in her wheelhouse. She was afraid of heights.

Chairlift ride to the zipline

Chairlift ride to the zipline

“So why ziplining?” I ask Laura.

“Because I want to face my fears.” She says. “And if the Real Housewives of Orange County can do it, so can I.”

Apparently the Real Housewives–a reality show populated by privileged women who gossip and kvetch about the difficulties of being pampered–recently went to Costa Rica to try ziplining.

As I stood at the top of the first metal platform, prepared to launch into the trees, I tried to conjure up a little fear and adrenaline. Maybe because my step daughter has nerves of steel, or maybe because it just didn’t look that scary, I stepped off with an even heartbeat and dry palms. It was fun. It was fast. I liked it.

And at the bottom platform, I did feel a little dopamine boost.

Facing Fear

Then Laura stepped off the far platform and sailed through the trees. Her body was scrunched tight like the guides had instructed. The only skill involved in ziplining is grabbing the orange rope on the other side so you don’t slide back into the middle sag of the line.

This should be the cover of the brochure

This should be the cover of the brochure

Laura took that job seriously. She reached her open palm to the rope, her hands shaking like an aspen leaf in a windstorm, and grabbed it on the first try. She landed on the platform and started crying tears of joy.

I was impressed. Here was a woman facing her fears. As the morning progressed, Laura’s fear receded. She opened her eyes on the next line, and let out a little whoop of joy at the end of the final zip. She’d conquered her fear.

Me, I shared a fun morning with my step-daughter, impressed by her unflappable courage.

As we walked down from the final platform into the village I felt a part of that energy too. We can all push ourselves to try new adventures–whether ziplining, kite boarding (haven’t tried it yet, but I’m getting there), or doing live radio–facing our fears only makes us better people.

So I’m curious. What fears have you faced lately?

Guest Post: Rowing My Boat Quickly Down the Stream

I love guest posts. Not only does it take the searchlight off me for a moment, but it also provides you all a different perspective. Today I’d like to introduce non-extreme sport athlete John Gower. John was willing to share his day in nature with us. I especially love how a single day on the river transforms his definition of nature. Thanks John. Take it away. –kk 

Rowing My Boat Quickly Down the Stream — My Day in Nature

by John Gower

Old view of nature

“Nature” once meant public parks and baseball fields

First things first: growing up, I didn’t think I was a nature person. I was always the guy who’s told he has “soft hands” and looks like he spends way to much time indoors, and who might spend a little too much time on the computer. However, that all changed when I took on my very first job out of college at an outdoorsy non-profit, which we shall call “Tree Huggers.”

I had been working at “Tree Huggers” for about two months when our brilliant CEO decided we needed to have a group outing. And said group outing was of course going to be in the middle of nowhere, in a secluded forest. Gulp.

Everyone else was excited for our group-bonding trip. Not only were we heading to the middle of the forest, we were renting canoes and paddling two-by-two from one end to the other. Little did I know, that day would teach me some valuable lessons. The first being: I’m competitive. That’s what got me into this mess in the first place. I wasn’t about to be left behind—and what’s more, I wanted to excel. Even at being in nature.

Canoeing Day Begins

Treehuggers aren't so bad after all

Treehuggers aren’t so bad after all

On the day of our big canoeing trip in the middle of the forest, I arose extra early to meet the rest of the “Tree Huggers” staff in a suburban parking lot. After a short minivan ride, we reached the edge of the forest, where the canoe rental stand was located. The start to end point on this little river turned out to be a few miles — a decent distance when you’re traveling by arm. Thankfully I was in the front of the canoe, which apparently meant I had to do far less work. That said, I still couldn’t move my arms for like a week after we were back on dry land. But, on the bright side, I definitely didn’t have “soft hands” anymore!

Occasionally we would pull over to take in a supposedly “scenic” spot or to rest our arms. When lunchtime finally arrived, my coworkers all found it hilarious that I refused to sit down on anything before pulling out a beach towel to protect myself from the dirty ground. However, despite never having touched an oar before that morning, my boat ended up finishing our “chartered boat cruise” a good half-hour before the rest of the staff. Suddenly, being outdoors was starting to look up.

Lessons Learned From Nature

What the “high” gained from my competitive instincts allowed me to see is that nature is actually kind of peaceful. With all the distractions in our daily lives — cell phones, computers, television, etc. — it can be difficult to disconnect. Spending a day in nature forced me to get away from all diversions and simply focus on the now. To my friends and family’s amazement, I have become a nature convert, and go hiking at least once a week now.

John Gower is a writer for NerdWallet, a personal finance website dedicated to helping you save money with financial tips on everything from travel to 30 year fixed mortgage rates.