I was not even sure if I should get up today. It was a gloomy morning and the night was really cold, so cold that my idea of synchronizing our body flips while sleeping did not work.
All I wanted to do was to cuddle as close as possible to another body without much care about my knee positioning. Besides being chilled to the bone there was also another reason why I was delaying my day. I am really not fond of heights. I prefer life without ladders.
I hate heights!
I was secretly hoping that Chutes Coulonge would not be open today. Chutes Coulonge is an aerial park having been entertaining height-loving folks in Quebec for the last five years. However, the recent storm of July 19, 2013 damaged many sections and the park needed to close for repairs.
Today was the day the park was to reopen. I am a cautious individual and I am not aiming to be at the front line to hell. Neither did I want to be the first visitor to fall into the deep canyon from a possibly damaged zip line, so I was taking my sweet time in the morning hoping that either the park would not open or the weather would really get bad and we would not have to go… but we did.
I thought green bracelet was safe
Chutes Coulonge is really well tucked away from the curious eye. If you cannot find it on the internet do not hope to find it on a map. Road signs would not help you either. Actually the road leading to the park feels so remote that you may have the impression you are lost, especially that no 3G or other signals are available in the vicinity. Yet, we arrived. The park was open and there were only a few visitors.
I do not like anything higher than my five steps on the porch, so I purchased a green bracelet, an entertainment ticket for “inexperienced visitors” or bluntly put “height cowards”. Andi’s recent scaffolding adventures around our clinic were enough to put him in “experienced” category and he ended up with a red bracelet, or I should say “you are either on drugs or crazy”.
There were like eight people in our Chute Coulonge adventure group including us two. All, except Andi wore green bracelets. People at the front desk told me that I could decide half way through if I want more thrill and if not, I can come back. I felt comfortable with their assurances. Little did I know it was a total set up. This is where it all begins:
Oh God… she screamed!
First challenge: a zip-line. No problem. I can do a 20 foot rope, one foot above the ground. However this was a bit different. This was not a piece of cake. My face turned from sun-tanned to ghostly white for a minute. This incredibly long zip line was dangling 100 meters (330 feet) above a white water rapids canyon.
I think they had to push me off the dangling stairs eventually. I took too long deciding whether to go or not. Yes, the view was awesome from the platform, but once in the air I do not think I was even watching. Oh, God, Oh God… what did I sign up for? This was character-building, but also nerve wracking. We have a matching video to support that claim.
It was pure adrenaline
I was happy to land on the other end thinking it may get easier from now on, but my hopes were shattered once they made me (I am sticking to my story) cross the canyon on a wobbly suspension bridge 100 meters above the raging water.
From now on I was fueled by pure adrenaline. If you think the bridge ends up conveniently on a platform you are WRONG! The bridge ends up in the middle of a totally vertical cliff you have to scale up. Once you are there, you have no choice but to keep holding on for dear life and keep on climbing a completely vertical wall or risk falling down. This is what they forgot to tell me… the bridge is the start of the “seldom anybody returns” red bracelet zone.
That’s when you wish for kettlebell grip
While pulling myself up on a life line and balancing on narrow rocky ledges high above the canyon I felt foolish for skipping all those Wednesdays kettlebell mornings Andi nagged me about. I was glad though for the days when I embraced the routine.
Now I needed maximum grip strength, leg stretch, shoulder reach, and agile stabilizing muscles. Kettlebells are the best preparation for that. The only thing that kettlebells could not provide is an adventurous spirit and an infusion of courage.
Dripping sweat, forget wiping
Thank God I took some extra vitamin C in the morning or my adrenals would be completely out of fuel. I was so “high” that drops of sweat started to close my eyes. Sorry, no wiping… I’d better cling on to the life line instead.
From now on things become more boring as my muscles get tired, my make-up gets completely washed off by my constantly running from under-helmet sweat and I am counting minute after minute hoping I have enough “juice” to last to the end.
Holy F… this is just a metal cord!
The park is cleverly designed though. Before letting you finish and to keep your interest aroused it forces you onto another suspension bridge some 200 meters (660 feet) above the canyon. Here is the thrill: the bridge is not really a bridge, but a metal cord with an approximate diameter of half inch you need to walk over. This is not a joke, folks. We have a video.
After two exhausting hours hanging to a cliff the very last thing we need to do before going on solid ground was to zip line back to the exit platform that was on the other side of the canyon. After all I have done today this long zip line looked more like a life-saver than a scare. I clipped my pulley onto the zip cord, sprinted along the platform, jumped, and … trusted the rope. I flew with the speed of a jet 260 meters (850 feet) above the white rapids with a smile. I am going home!
Go to our zip lining and cliff climbing video
Go to Bon Echo to Ottawa Part 4
Go to Bon Echo to Ottawa Part 1