Monday, June 17, 2013

Weekend Idea: Adult Tree House

Tree houses lose their magic as you grow older.  You get bigger, they get smaller.  Dizzying heights turn into short drops.  Tree houses are for kids.

I was less than excited when a seventh grader invited me to his birthday party last Saturday, which he said was in a tree house.  Not wanting to say no, I drove an hour and a half to arrive at Tree to Tree Adventure Park, near Gaston, Oregon.

And wow.  This place is insanely fun and intensely scary.  It is not your normal tree house.  Think of it more as an obstacle course anywhere from 25 to 60 feet off the ground.  If you are scared of heights like I am, you will find yourself sweating and clammy try to navigate the course 60 feet off the ground.  

Our party did the Aerial Course (there is also a zip line tour).  They harness you up, and run you through a beginner course teaching how to use your "lobster claws," the things that save your life when you inevitably fall.

Then, just as the name says, you spend your time going from tree to tree.  Or trying to.  There are six different, and progressively difficult courses.  The obstacles are called "elements", the majority of which are  wobbly beams and tightropes, with varying amounts of things to hold onto.  Each element does have a guide wire above you, that you're clipped into, but they encourage you not to use it if possible.  The courses also include zip lines.  

Up in the trees, fear is powerful.  Feats I could have done easily on the ground became nearly impossible in the sky.  Still I managed the early courses relatively well, but the fifth course "Red" shook me.  By the time we graduated to the final course, ominously labeled "Black," I got the sense that whoever designed it did so to purposefully and sadistically break my spirit.  I spent the majority of it clutching the guide wire and praying.  

The worst single obstacle was jumping from one platform to another, 60 feet off the ground, with nothing to hold onto.  No beams, no ropes, just my courage.  Which sadly failed.  I held the guide wire and awkwardly stepped across the chasm using my abnormally long legs.  My seventh grade companions made the leap with little to no hesitation.

Pictured:  Easy elements

The course requires faith.  Faith in the equipment.  I know its all rated to thousands of pounds, but still its just little strips of metal and cloth.   I would hate to be the one guy in a million who has his harness break.  And its hard for me not to think about that when I'm putting my life entirely in its hands.

I was I was glad to be done, but unsatisfied with myself.  I'll go back soon and challenge myself a little more.  

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