Zip Lining on Catalina Island (Or: “Just Step Aggressively Into Nothing”)

by Jackie D on September 25, 2015

zip lining catalina 6You know you’re about to have either a really fantastic time or a really terrifying time when the guide for the activity you’re about to attempt says to you: “So, what you’re going to do is: just step out aggressively into nothing.”

Apparently if you step too “delicately” or hesitantly off the zip lining platform, you run the risk of giving yourself whiplash or falling back a little and hitting the platform. So really, you do literally have to just step out aggressively and confidently into thin air in order to get yourself going.

You’re harnessed in, obviously. And we weren’t up that high on the course in Catalina. And the zip lining itself only lasts for a matter of seconds before you’re on safe ground again. And I figured if I had survived volcano boarding in Nicaragua then zip lining probably didn’t pose much of a threat to my health. But still. The thought of just jumping out into thin air, harness or not, has never really brought me much comfort.zip lining catalina 3My mom suggested that our whole family (me, my sister, my dad, and her) try zip lining during the one-day excursion to Catalina that we’d had planned. I was the person most likely to disagree with this suggestion because, as a rule, I am generally terrified of everything, but zip lining actually seemed like fun to me because like I said, you aren’t that high off the ground and you’re completely strapped into a harness. So we went for it. (And as you can see in the above photo I wore a dress for the occasion, because, well, because.)

My mom went first (in contrast to me, she is generally afraid of nothing), and then my sister went, and then my dad, leaving me on the platform with the rest of our small group (thanks guys!). As our guide was harnessing me in, I told him I was really nervous.

“Oh, are you scared of heights?” he asked.

“No, I’m scared of dying,” I told him, and the two young kids who were in line behind me suddenly looked really afraid, as though they’d never really considered dying until right then. I am a very comforting presence to children, clearly.zip lining catalina 2But guys: it was so much fun! When you step off the platform, you don’t feel a drop in your stomach or whiplash in your neck (unless you choose to step off un-aggressively). It was a beautiful day and we had views over the water as we were in the air, and our two guides — two young guys in their early 20s — kept us entertained with jokes and stories about living on the island.

Apparently Catalina Island is one of the only zip lining courses in the world (if not THE only one) where the brake system is automatic. Apparently on other zip lines in Costa Rica and elsewhere, you have to actually put the brakes on yourself, to make yourself stop. Scary? I appreciate that California doesn’t trust people enough to accomplish this on their own and therefore put laws in place to make these brakes mandatory. You know us well, California.

I got to practice my photography a little and managed to get several good shots of the family. It was so nice to be outside and exercising some muscles that I don’t get to use sitting at a desk or on the train all day (although I might have actually given myself slight whiplash), and it was great to finally explore a part of Southern California that I’d never seen before (more photos of Catalina Island to come!)zip lining catalina 4zip lining catalina 112026688_10103905653016873_1893361810_nzip lining catalina 5Thanks Mom for the great idea! And sorry to those kids for mentioning death.

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