Zipping through the forest

Yesterday, I did something I never thought I would do.  Ever.  I’m scared of heights, am afraid of falling, and am not in the best shape.  But, it happened.  I went zip lining.

And I LOVED it.

Although we had plenty planned for Memorial Day weekend, zip lining was not on our list.  In fact, we didn’t have any plans for Monday aside from possibly going bike riding in Kanawha State Forest but even that wasn’t set in stone.  But then Thursday night, I was browsing Facebook and noticed that Adventures on the Gorge in Fayetteville had a special for Memorial Day only: a 2 for 1 deal where you basically buy one zip line ticket and get one free.  So of course, we couldn’t pass it up.

The hardest part was deciding which zip line to do: TreeTops Canopy Tour for $99 or Gravity for $109.  Both have high ratings and come with their own thrill, but you’re choosing between zipping from tree platform to tree platform (TreeTops) or mountain top to mountain top (Gravity).  There really is no wrong decision, but since Jon and I had never gone before, we chose to do TreeTops as it looked to be the milder choice between the two per my in-depth YouTube research.  And let me tell you — it was an excellent choice!

zip blog 1
TreeTops Canopy Tour consists of 10 zips, 5 cable bridges, and one rappel from the final platform which is approximately 35 feet up.  Along the way, you’ll be one with nature as you zip to and from tree platforms, over Mill Creek, and along the hills.  The entire tour will take 2.5 – 3 hours and you do need to be in moderate shape, as there is some hiking near the middle.  Contrastingly, the Gravity zip line course is open-air and offers more scenic views of the gorge and mountains.  On the longest zip, you’ll go 3,150 long (longer than the New River Gorge Bridge!) and upwards of 60mph.  The fastest you go on TreeTops is 40-45mph.  Cameras and a small backpack are allowed on both trips, but you must properly secure all your belongings.  I brought my digital camera and looped it around my harness while Jon had his phone in his folding shorts pocket.

For our trip, we chose the Noon departure of TreeTops and lucked out with two wonderful guides and a good group with 6 fellow zippers.  Most of us were a little nervous at first but after a quick practice run and two shorter zips to get the hang of it, we were (mostly) all pros.  It took some of us (ahem, me) a while to get the hang of braking properly but by the 4th or 5th zip, the training became second nature and the adrenaline took over.  For me, the scariest part was rappelling down the final platform.  I was terrified of that first step off the edge, but once I was caught in the weight of my harness, I was fine.  Perhaps rock climbing school will be our next adventure?  You never know.

zip blog 2
I know zip lining may not be for everyone, but if you’re interested in trying, I highly recommend Adventures on the Gorge.  Their guides were knowledgeable, fun, energetic, and made sure that everyone felt comfortable no matter how nervous you were.  This was the first time I’d ever booked anything with AOTG but I can tell you that it won’t be my last (and I plan on coming back for Gravity!). I’m trying to talk Jon into booking a rafting trip for my birthday in a few weeks…. we’ll see how that goes.

As a bonus, I put together some clips for a short (1:34) YouTube video of some of our zips.  I am not a video editor but I know you’ll be dazzled by my skills:

Adventures on the Gorge is located just outside of Fayetteville, WV in the town of Lansing.  They are a year-round resort featuring cabins, restaurants, and activities that include white water rafting, zip lining, a timber-themed obstacle course, and much more.  For more information on zip lining at Adventures on the Gorge, check out their TreeTops Canopy Tour or Gravity Zip Line webpages.  Prices vary depending on the day and are cheaper mid-week.

Until next time,
Sara (WV Travel Queen)

Note: this review is not sponsored or endorsed by Adventures on the Gorge.  All thoughts expressed are my own and the trip was purchased with my own money. 

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Birthplace of Rivers Geocaching Challenge

It’s Memorial Day weekend, AKA the unofficial start of summer.  I hope that no matter what you are doing, you have been enjoying yourself thus far and have a wonderful Memorial Day tomorrow.  I also hope that you remember the true reason for the holiday and keep in your heart the memory of those whom have died while serving in the armed forces.

To celebrate Memorial Day and take advantage of a three-day weekend for me, Jon and I decided to head to the hills for a day of geocaching.  With our headquarters in Summersville, we drove to Pocahontas County on Saturday and spent most of the day geocaching and trying to complete the Birthplace of Rivers Geocaching Challenge.  Our day was perfect and the views were some of the best I’ve ever seen along the Highland Scenic Highway.  Geocaching was just a bonus!

Ready to go geocaching!  My GPS, swag bag, hiking boots -- I'm good to go.

Ready to go geocaching! My GPS, swag bag, hiking boots — I’m good to go.

The latest geocaching challenge from the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Birthplace of Rivers runs May 1 – October 31, 2015 and celebrates the eight (yes — EIGHT) rivers that originate in the county.  These rivers are the Cherry, Cranberry, Elk, Gauley, Greenbrier, Shavers, Tygart, and Williams.  Caches are hidden along each of these rivers and in addition to traditional trade items, contain colored stickers that correspond with a space on the official challenge Bingo card.  To complete this challenge, you must download the Bingo Card and collect a minimum of four colors in a row to Bingo.  Although there are eight caches in this series, it is entirely possible to only visit four and still Bingo (but why not visit them all?!).  Once you’ve gotten a Bingo, you can turn in your card and receive one of 100 limited edition geocoins.  As an added perk, if you stay in the county while doing so, you can bring your lodging receipt with you and enter for a chance to win a kayak.  We visited five caches before we had what we needed to get a Bingo.

Snapshots from our day

Snapshots from our day

Because Pocahontas County is vast and rural, if you are unfamiliar with the area, it can seem daunting to undertake this challenge in a day as we did.  However, doing so can happen if you plan your routes correctly.  We entered the county from Route 39/55 outside of Richwood and were able to grab two along this road then loop across Route 150 for two more, finishing up with a stop just south of Slatyfork for our final cache to make our Bingo.  Afterwards, we drove into the county seat of Marlinton to claim our geocoins and grab some lunch at the Greenbrier Grille and Lodge (definitely stop here!).  We found a handful of other caches as well, but some of those deserve their own post so I won’t share them just yet.  To help visualize the location of all eight caches, I’ve put together the map below that may help:

Map provided by Pocahontas County CVB

Map provided by Pocahontas County CVB (red dots added by me noting cache locations).

Before attempting this challenge, be sure to read the cache descriptions below as well as download the Bingo card:
Official Bingo Card
Birthplace of Rivers Geocache —  Cherry
Birthplace of Rivers Geocache —  Cranberry
Birthplace of Rivers Geocache — Elk
Birthplace of Rivers Geocache — Gauley
Birthplace of Rivers Geocache — Greenbrier
Birthplace of Rivers Geocache — Shavers
Birthplace of Rivers Geocache — Tygart
Birthplace of Rivers Geocache — Williams

If you have any questions about the challenge, feel free to send me an email at wvtravelqueen@gmail.com.  You may also send me a Twitter message @WV_TravelQueen.  And for more information on Pocahontas County and a guide to help plan your trip, be sure to visit Nature’s Mountain Playground online at www.pocahontascountywv.com.

Until next time,
Sara (WV Travel Queen)

Geocaching username:  iheartmarshall