I gave my Mom two gift cards to Tree Top Trekking in Barrie for Mother’s Day. At the beginning of August we picked a day to take advantage of this adventure.
We were treated to a sunny day that was not overly hot, which was perfect for climbing in trees! We booked a 10:30 time slot at the advice of an employee. This gave us three hours on course before most of the crowds hit. On arrival we checked in, signed a waiver, and were being fitted for a harness and helmet in no time!
I have been zip lining twice before, but I liked this facility as they allow you to move through the course on your own. You get a quick lesson on safety, but after that it’s all you. This affords a bit of independence and adventure that I did not experience at other facilities. You have two clips (I am sure that is not the technical term) and a third piece for zip lining. You must have at least one clip attached to the safety lines at all times. The other facilities I visited had an instructor at every tree moving the safety harness for you. Tree Top Trekking does have instructors placed, sort of like lifeguards, on the ground and throughout the course.
My mom and I were first of our group to try the practice course and were quickly moved on to the real course. Tree Top Trekking has several levels to progress through. If I remember correctly, there were three beginner courses, two intermediate courses and one advance course. You have three hours to do this at whatever level you choose. The exception being advanced, which required the completion of the more difficult intermediate course. They also feature the “Big Zip,” which is a long zip line that reaches much higher speeds.
We started on the first beginner course behind a large group that looked somewhat apprehensive. I imagine if you are afraid of heights those first few steps are hard. You began on a fairly basic bridge that gave us little trouble. There were also suspended barrels that proved easier than they appeared and a few other bridge obstacles. My first difficulty arose at two suspended wires. You walk across one and hold the other above you head. There is really no way of walking straight, so you have to go sideways and shimmy across while holding the line above you. Perhaps it’s my lack of upper body strength, but this one seemed more difficult and made me a little dizzy looking at my feet high above the forest floor. This course ended with a short and easy zip line.
The next course started easily and quickly came to a longer zip line. This one was higher and carried more speed, which was nice. It was also the first zip line that we did not have an instructor right there. It was here that we hit our first road block, as a man farther along could not bring himself to swing across a Tarzan rope. You are not allowed more than two people per tree platform, so we had to patiently wait for him to move. He finally made the big swing and we continued on. The next obstacle for me was a wood bridge that was rigged to drop a slat every three steps. There is nothing like walking across a swinging bridge to feel the floor drop out from under you – of course there is no danger, as you are in the harness, but it’s still alarming! After I figured out the pattern, I elected to jump those slats. We had a few more obstacles and arrived at the Tarzan swing. This was another intimidating one because your head is telling you that you must reach the other side and not let go! Again it’s hard to look past this and remember you have a harness on. I got across without any trouble. On my mom’s turn, I grabbed her harness to keep her on my side. Her being a few inches shorter than me, made it difficult to get her feet on the platform.
At this point, the man who had trouble earlier had given up/fallen off another set off double suspended lines. The instructors tried to coach him along, but in the end they had to go up and do a “rescue” to help bring him down. We got a break at this point and sat up on one of the platforms. The next few obstacles were easy enough and ended with individually suspended logs that moved as you stepped across to the next one. If you went too slowly you swung backwards, as you stepped to the next log. If you went too fast it became difficult to balance. At the end of this course, the instructor said we could skip the next beginner course and continue onto the second hardest, as we got held up.
This course started with four longer and higher zip lines — the best part!! The first one was very fast and I was a little apprehensive as I had watched someone else miss landing on the platform and bounce back into the middle of the zip line. The person had to pull themselves back in. I went fairly fast, but managed to stay on the platform. It became evident that my mom had much better zip lining form, as I tended towards flailing around in the air (see video). After the zip lines we came to double suspended lines again. After that we had another group of individually suspended logs. These ones were longer and were certainly ramping up in difficulty. At one point I executed rather spectacular splits in the air! The next obstacle was a bridge of upright logs attached to each other, requiring the person to walk across the small log tops. I saw people doing all sorts of interesting moves attempting to balance on them! Finally the last obstacle before the zip line was suspended rings attached to a line. We had to walk across the line and navigate through the hoops. This also meant we had to watch our harness, so as not to get tangled – something I failed at. Finally we came to the last zip line on course, which was a nice long one from the trees and down to the ground!
On the bottom side, we were tired and sore, so decided to skip the hardest course and finish on the “Big Zip.” A small hike through the woods brought us to a platform in the trees. This one goes fast, so required a different set up and instructors to assist you. Although this zip line was not the highest of the day, it certainly was the longest! There was also a group of people to help riders stop at the other end. But what an adrenaline rush!!
We finished off our day with lunch at the Horse Shoe Valley restaurant. A fun belated Mother’s Day!