Ten percent of the US population has a fear of heights. I am among the 10%. For me, it’s only common sense; I am high up in the air, I might fall and I don’t like it. Because of this fear, I avoided zip lining or other high height activities like the plague. If there isn’t a good reason to go that high up in the air, why should I do it?
This May, I was hired as a marketing intern for Door County Adventure Center, and was given a good reason to climb to irrational heights. To truly market this activity, I would have to partake in it.
When the first thought of riding the zip line crossed my mind I started breathing heavily, my knees started to quiver and my stomach tied itself into a knot. How was I supposed to get that high up in the air in front of all my new coworkers and not be terrified…or throw up!? These thoughts haunted me the entire first week, while the rest of my adventurous coworkers were itching to get to through training & have an opportunity to go on the zip lines.
Before I knew it, the day for my first zip line had arrived. Tim Pflieger, the company’s president, founder, and one of my zip line guides for the day, had chosen our Rowleys Bay Resort location for our first team zip. This canopy zip line includes a spiral staircase inside a silo followed by a long & daunting suspension bridge, all of which you have to do before you even get to the first zip line launch platform! As I approached the silo I found myself thinking that the zip line didn’t look too incredibly high and I was confident I could make it through the tour without making a complete fool of myself. However, once I reached the top of the stairwell, my confidence faded away and I was quickly reminded of my fear of heights. As my coworkers crossed the bridge ahead of me, I saw them doing every maneuver in the book. One took her sweet time and held onto the railings for support, another ran across as fast as he could to the other side, hooting and hollering like he had won at the casino.
When my turn came, my sister, Katie, who is also an Adventure Facilitator, was there with me and helped a bit of my confidence return. She and her co-guide, Zoe, strapped me in and assured me that everything would be just fine. With their encouragement, I started crossing the bridge. One. Step. At. A. Time. What felt like hours, was only two minutes, and I am proud to say that I successfully made it across. When I finally arrived at the launch platform everyone cheered. I was ecstatic! I had done it and everyone was excited that I agreed to go on the zip line despite my fears.
My delight did not last long. Shortly after arriving on the platform I was ready to get going on my first actual zip. I was set up, ready to zip, and the guide had me secured and ready to go. While she did that I stared ahead at the long cable ahead of me and repeatedly reminded myself not to throw up. It took a little more encouragement but when I was ready to go I screamed the magic word, “Zipping!” and my team shouted back “Zip On!” with lots of enthusiasm!
I stepped off the platform. It felt like flying in a lawn chair! I sat back in my harness and it kept a comfortable hold of me as I sailed across the field. Sophie brought me to a gradual stop at the other end of that long cable and clipped me back to safety. My mind raced with exhilaration, and instead of feeling fearful I found myself thinking “That was fantastic!”
The rest of the tour, I had a blast climbing platforms and zipping through the forest canopy. Everyone was encouraging and understanding with my slow approach. I had an incredible time with my first zip line, and the guides and teammates I experienced it with made it all the more magical. I never thought I’d say this but…I can’t wait to take my next zip!