After Daily RFT
received a head cam in the mail last week, your reporter graciously agreed to test it out last Thursday at the Grafton Zipline
The course itself runs through a lush green forest, high above the confluence of the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. It occupies about 150 acres, but is likely to expand into the rest of the 250-acre property, says spokesman Jason Martin
"It's exceeding our expectations," says Martin of the operation, which opened in May. He says it's the second largest in the Midwest.
The course has nine zips
; you travel from point to point along a ridge, then start zig-zagging across a ravine to the bottom of the hill, at which point a van carries you back up to the office.
The zip that I found the most "X-treme" is the "Soaring Eagle," on which you can hit speeds of about 50 miles per hour high above the ravine. If you look off to your right, you can even glimpse the confluence, but it's impressive enough to be able to look down on the tops of oaks and maples.
You're attached to the zip line by a device hooked to a belt harness, which wraps under your butt and supports your weight so all you have to do is sit down. That means you don't need to hang on tightly with your arms (which I did anyway, out of fear). You do need your hands up on the device, though, to apply the brake. (Of course, our guide, Mike, assured us that he'd prevent us from slamming into the tree: "You'll take me out before you take the tree out." Mike seemed trustworthy; I elected not to test him.)
Other than that, the course requires almost no physical strain. There's very little walking or stair-climbing. Martin says an 80-year-old woman did the course two weeks ago.
Can YOU do the zipline? The requirements are not based on age, but
rather on your weight: you must be under 275 pounds or over 45 pounds
(it's the lighter folks who don't zip as fast and risk not having enough inertia to finish a zip -- but don't worry, the guides will come out and haul you in if you get stuck and don't want to pull yourself).
I asked Martin, the spokesperson, if he himself had done the zipline course. "Oh yeah. My favorite is the second to last one," he said, referring to the Barnburner, which runs under the canopy toward the end of the course. "It's the fastest."
He was right - check out the last part of the video.