How did my father know there was a zipline in the wilderness of Tanana, Alaska? Who had revealed the secret? Was it a hidden treasure from the Fort Gibbons’ era of 1899 to 1923? How had it remained when the wilderness had stealthily taken back reminders of the 1,000 people who had lived at the military outpost along the Yukon River? Potato and hay fields, telegraph poles and a lookout tower, were long gone

by 1957, when my father accepted the position of Medical Officer in Charge at the Public Health Services hospital for the 300 people in the village.

I followed him into the thick woods that smelled of spruce and damp earth. “Watch me,” he said.

He threw off his red wool jacket, pulled himself up the tree-post, and pushed off a narrow wooden ledge. My eyes grew wide. A second later he was standing on the ground.

“I want to do that!” I said.

He grinned, loped back in his characteristic half-walk half-run, and boosted me up to a crooked slat nailed onto the tree. I reached for the next slat until I was up to the take-off ledge. My small hands clasped the bar that connected to a long cable…….and pushed off. Air whooshed through my short hair and adrenalin pounded in my veins. My feet hit the soft mossy tundra and I ran with the force of impact – until the bar stopped at a level spot in the cable line.

I laughed. “I want to do it again, Daddy!”

In 2009, I boarded the train at Durango. Halfway to Silverton, CO is Soaring Tree Top Adventures. The staff outfitted our group with harnesses. A strap with snap-clip hung off the middle, ready for action. Then, I stood in line and listened to the safety and environmental lectures. Before I knew it, the real action had started at the front of the group. When my turn came, the sky-ranger attached the snap-clip to the heavy cable that led to the next platform. Off I went! Wind whooshed through my hair and adrenaline pounded in my veins. Over and over I climbed to the next platform, pushed off, and soared between trees and over the river. Twenty-four zip spans later, the pounding hadn’t stopped.

In 2010, I caught the Alaska Marine Highway from Whittier to Juneau, AK. A short boat ride took me across Gastineau Channel to the site of the old Treadwell Mine on Douglas Island. A jolting army truck hauled our small group up the hill to the base camp of Alaska Canopy Adventures. I put on a helmet and gloves – and hiked a rain forest trail between moss-covered trees, moss-covered old mining equipment, and moss-covered everything. I climbed a platform for a short practice run. Then it was time to soar. Air whooshed through my hair and adrenalin pounded in my veins. After 10 spans and two aerial suspension bridges, I turned to my sister and said, “I want to do it again!” Dad would have said the same.

More than 120 ziplines exist in the 50 United States. They vary from fast and furious high-speed adventures to scenic canopy tours. In Alaska, ziplines are the number one growing segment of tourism. Icy Strait Point zipline in Hoonah, AK boasts the wildest ride with a length of 5,330 feet, 1,300 foot vertical drop, 60 mph speeds – in 1.5 minutes. Six people strapped to seats launch at once. That’s more whooshing and adrenaline than I want!

But, I’m looking for something in Colorado this summer.

What would you recommend?

Where have you been?

Where was your wildest ride – or most enjoyable soaring tour?

  • Soaring Tree Top Adventures – Colorado

Alaska Canopy Adventures