Adventure tourism rode into Lake Country on a steel cable last week when Oyama Zipline Forest Adventures opened for business, welcoming guests who were eager for a chance to soar with the birds.
A few short words from the proprietors and a “cable-cutting” photo op in place of the typical ribbon cutting made up the short opening ceremony. The five members of the Madsen family wrestled with a bolt cutter to chop the cable but in the end, only managed to fray the cable slightly. No matter, it only made the friends and neighbours in attendance more confident about signing their lives away before heading up the hill for their tour.
Mayor James Baker was in attendance with District staff Willene Perez and Reyna Seabrook. James was in a hurry to get to his next meeting so the Madsens arranged for the three of them to go as a small group and I was asked to tag along.
We met our guides Amber and Todd at the bottom of the hill. They strapped us into our harnesses, handed out our helmets and a few minutes later we piled into a van and were headed up an old logging road to the top of the property where the first of six ziplines awaited us.
Our first ride started from a tower accessed by a suspension bridge. Amber took the lead while Todd brought up the rear of our troop. They took care to make sure everyone got across safely and even connected a lanyard from our harnesses to a cable that ran the length of the bridge in case someone should slip.
Standing on the platform, the four of us looked down the cable that we were about to ride. It didn’t look so bad, not too long and not very steep.
Willene, Reyna, and I volunteered James to be the guinea pig. He stepped up to the zipline and Amber connected his harness to it. James walked up to the edge, looked down apprehensively, looked back at Amber.
“I just jump,” he asked?
“Yeah, you can hang on to the lanyard if you want,” she answered.
He grabbed the thin piece of webbing connecting him to the zipline and jumped.
“Wahoooo!” he cried, tucking his legs into his chest as Todd had instructed us to do if we wanted to go faster.
I was last to go in our group. I hadn’t been nervous leading up to my moment but when it finally arrived I found myself somewhat hesitant. It wasn’t a feeling I’d describe as fear, it was more that common sense was telling me not to jump off of a tower. I didn’t want to hold up the rest of the group so I put my faith in our guides and stepped off the platform.
At the end of the line I rejoined the group, grinning from ear to ear, just like the rest of them.
After the first zipline the rest of them get progressively longer and steeper. The final zipline takes about 30 seconds to ride down and Peter Madsen says it’s possible to reach speeds of up to 85 kilometres per hour. It’s also constructed as a twin line so that it’s possible for two people to race one another to the bottom.
The whole adventure takes place in a forested setting and the occasional breaks in the trees offer incredible expansive views of the north Okanagan.