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By E.M. Fredric
The Best Zips in the West are at Pacific Crest
WRIGHTWOOD, CA – 10/29/2018 – Pacific Crest Ziplines is the only way to fly 300-feet in the air to experience the San Gabriel Mountains rugged and majestic terrain with friends or family! I chose the new Zip or Treat bonanza offered the week of Halloween as a unique surprise… and spookily freaky treat to have with my kids and skipped the usual party scene. We fled 75 miles from the Los Angeles air to inhale beautiful mountain scenery at 6,000 feet above Wrightwood, California. They operate rain or shine – year round and even have moonlit zip nights! Christmas sounds like a beautiful time to go back or give as a gift – snow-zipping… after this trip we can’t wait to return… but I’m getting ahead of myself – as you will… believe that.
Ziplines at Pacific Crest personnel are happy to explain anything to you but do check out their informative and mesmerizing website: PACIFIC CREST. I chose the Canopy Tour which consists of 9 ziplines (including one set of side-by-side racing ziplines), 2 traditional rappels, 3 bridges and 3 short hikes.
Your other choices are: The Mountain View Tour typically takes 2.5-hours to complete and includes 6 ziplines, 2 “free-fall” rappels (where guests get to take a leap off of tree platforms high above the ground), and 3 short hikes or… do both and save $33 per all day tour.
Choosing between the two is a little like picking your favorite child but I already had two young adults with me (my son, Dylan Bocanegra and his beautiful girlfriend, Sarah Michelle Witt). We three, I discovered, had a fear of heights – so we opted for a half-day on the Canopy Tour. The ziplines offer more extreme heights and lengths – a perfect way to embrace any anxieties and scream like hell while doing it! Gloriously mad hatter thrills awaited us.
I did a lot of research going in and found that all features of Ziplines at Pacific Crest are built to meet the requirements of the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT), which is accredited by the American National Standards Institute, and all guides undergo rigorous training in accordance with the ACCT. They use a redundant system which was evident throughout our experience. We were always connected to lanyards while up on the platforms in the trees and the guides handled all of the protective gear – plus, rather than zipping on just one cable (as most tours do), they use a dual-cable system for added safety and security.
We got our assigned tour guides, Tom and Tesa who strapped our group of seven into their gear and headed out to the van for the Jurassic Park-like ride up the mountain – wild, bumpy and just the exact way to begin our adventure. Tom, notorious for telling bad jokes – gave safety instructions as we rolled our eyes and chuckled and Tesa was the reassuring one, always encouraging us. We reached the top, got out and walked to the first zip and it was there that Tom explained the first two ziplines were shorter and our basic training before graduating to “college” with the more extreme lines. Dylan, Sarah, me – the entire group – passed and as it turned out we all were nervous even though some of us had jumped out of planes. It’s a completely different kind of experience – plus it lasts longer! More bang for your buck – that’s for sure.
The ziplines got longer and more exciting and we were told to look around – the view is intoxicating. Little insider info – not a good idea to do this after a heavy night at the bar – you need your wits about you and the freedom to enjoy each moment that arrives.
Tom and Tesa gave us a water break just at the right time – I believe it was before the 3rd or 4th zipline after our group made the trek up to one of the longer ziplines. Tom gave us information about the local geology and also what happens in town if you want to stay over. He pointed out the San Andreas Fault line and used rocks to show how one side of the mountain as opposed to the other are moving. The guides are extremely knowledgeable and fun to be around but do take their work very seriously and know how to assess people and situations quickly. You can be transported back down – after the first zipline or two is the ideal time – there is no shame involved. Not ideal to chicken out later on because it requires being lowered by rope and that would scare me more than zipping over the forest floor 300 feet below.
The bridges were different in length and construction and challenging in various ways. Our group consisted of two couples, a pair of buddies and me. I felt like a little kid but when you bring along your grown one and his girlfriend, you’re just looked at as the “mom” so I let out hair-splitting screams every chance I got to rip on a zip – which was all 9! Dylan and Sarah were more subtle in how they handled their fears. When we were on one bridge seated I noticed legs shaking or on a platform being a rider took off – it gave me an eerie sense of calm knowing I wasn’t alone in being a tad scared – okay I was terrified but no one knew it and I hung in there.
Things to know before booking as a first time zipper or are as a seasoned pro:
As the morning progressed with the zips, each line had its own personality, height and duration as did the people in our group. I was sad that it was going to be over soon and wished I had booked a longer tour but there’s always next time! The rappelling down is such a different sensation – that was my most fearful moment. Tom kept repeating that everyone shows their fear at some point of the tour because of the various activities – it’s almost an obstacle course in the sky. He scared Dylan by pressing a talking skeleton in the tree before a zip – that made us all laugh – better him than me!
Being together as a family brought us closer again too. Life in the city is faster, the business of the show in the entertainment industry – or any for that matter – takes a toll on the body and mind. Here you get to set it free and be in the wilderness for whatever time you’ve booked.
MOUNTAIN VIEW TOUR
Our last zip was announced as a race and we partnered up. What a great surprise for us – you’re in on the secret and can plan who to race against. I chose Dylan. I was going to say I beat my son because I’m more skillful or just because I’m writing this article – but he won, hands down. Sarah lost to Tom the guide – another unfair disadvantage. We weigh less but it was pointed out, here’s the true insider tip, it’s in the taking off… not sure what that meant but ask your guide before the count and the whistle blows!
When it was over, I don’t think any of us felt like we hadn’t accomplished a lot both individually and together as a group. The bouncing van trip back was almost as fun as going up and we all realized how hungry we were so we stayed in town for breakfast before we headed back to krazytown. Here – we got to let out a bit of the krazies we all have inside before returning home.
Snow or moon zipping looks to be my next dream. Zip or Treat ends Halloween but all other tours are available and they even have group tours for events.
Call (760) 705-1003 to book 9AM – 4PM PST, 7 days a week! If you don’t reach a reservationist, please leave a message and they will get back to you as soon as possible.
Website info: PACIFIC CREST ZIPS
Events that occur in my life and ones that I'm fortunate to be asked to participate in - always add depths and dimensions of colors to my world - that I otherwise would've missed.. Get out and do things. Help people and in doing so? The benefits are golden.