“What’d You Do This Summer?”

Vacations, travel, and new experiences are the common answer to the question everyone is asking


This is one of the three ziplines at Peek’n Peak. The ziplines were just installed last August.

Lauren Griffith, Lifestyles Editor

I am not a huge fan of roller coasters. I don’t care much for flying either. And I’m the kind of person that always has Dramamine with them and isn’t afraid of using it.

    Until I went ziplining, Dozens of feet in the air, flying through tall trees, with their leaves within my arms reach. The dual ziplines at Peek’n Peak, in N.Y., were finished just last August, and there has been plenty of talk about them.

   The harness  was strapped around my legs, shoulders, and across my chest and waist. It was secured tightly, with no wiggle room. With each breath I took, the strap across my chest felt like it was getting tighter. I was beyond nervous, and my hands already started to sweat even thought I was still on the ground.Once I was harnessed in and helmeted, I made my way up the mountain by ski lift I passed other people in their ski lift carriages, and everyone looked like they belonged in some sort of adventure magazine. With my white knuckled fists gripping the safety bar, I didn’t fit that image.  A spiral staircase took me to the top of the first tower, which was moving with each gust of wind. It feels like my legs are going to start shaking any moment now. An instructor helped explain exactly what I needed to do once I was hooked onto the zipline.

   “All you have to do is lean back and jump from up here.”

   This is the instructor’s job; to calm nerves and to reassure. He had seen hundreds of people jump. He had seen people get themselves worked up, nervous, and then take the jump anyway.It sounds simple. But how do I, the person who doesn’t care for heights, grow the courage to lean back and jump? It felt like he didn’t understand how difficult that was. I had to do it, I had to jump. I was already hooked in, and I couldn’t face the embarrassment of walking down from the tower, past the kids half my age who had lined up behind me. I wrapped my hands as tight as I could around the line in front of me. Once I built the courage to jump, I went soaring.

   What I like is challenging myself. I like pushing myself. I like experiencing things for the first time, and a bit of competition. After the challenge is completed, I get this feeling in my chest that tells me, “Hey, you did this. Now you can do anything.”

    I let out a short scream, and quickly realized that a smile had broken onto my face mid-air. I held on to the harness and had my feet crossed, until I hit the braking mechanism just before the second tower. The hit the brakes a little harder than I thought, and my body went swinging even though the zipline was slowing. All the nerves, the anxiety, the white knuckled grip, well, that was all over. Instead of dreading doing it again, I couldn’t wait to get hooked back up again. This line would be a piece of cake, now that I had done the first one.

    When you are ziplining, the 2,000 feet, or the length of six football fields, goes by quickly. I had made it to the last tower, where I was given the option of taking the spiral staircase down, or taking the rapid descent. I chose the latter.  Heck, If I already jumped from two platforms, what was just one more?

    The instructor says, “This one actually lets you down slower than an elevator. You are going to step as close as you can to the ledge, and then take a step off as if you were taking a step off of a diving board into a pool. Got it?”

    This time, instead of going on the zipline at a horizontal angle, the zipline went vertically, and all that there was was a step off of a platform. And it was terrifying. It was like jumping from the roof of a house. Sure, it isn’t all that high of the ground. But this jump was new, and change from the first tower to the third was drastic.

    I took a couple of deep breaths, and told myself I would go on the count of 3. I counted to 3, and…nothing. I tried it again, telling myself that this time I would jump. And nothing happened.

   I asked the instructor standing on the ledge beside me to count down out loud. I thought a little bit of external pressure might make it easier. He started to count down from 5. I jumped, with a little yelp. The braking mechanism slowed my descent almost instantly. It was nothing to worry about. Even at the short distance of 30 feet, falling has scared me. I yelled back to the instructor that it really wasn’t that bad.

   By this time, I am sweaty, and the harness made my shorts ride up. My hair is coming out from underneath the helmet, and I am smiling. Looking down at my sneakers with dirt beneath them, I am strangely comforted. I watch as the hook and harness travel back up to the tower, as the next person gets hooked onto it. I realize that this jump happens dozens of times a day. People do this all of the time. This is routine for the instructors.

    It hadn’t been routine for me. The new experience had been a trying one for me. I tested myself, and I came out on the other side of it. While this had been a big deal for me, something that I had wanted to do for months, this was just a normal part of other people’s lives. It was just a way to spend a Saturday, or something to do with the friend in from out of town. It only mattered to me.