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Epic outdoor adventure… in the backyard
posted by John : January 26, 2014

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Adventure doesn't come easy

When I think about outdoor adventuring and pushing my limits I usually think about airy mountaintops or long distance hikes or long distance hikes that end on top of a mountain. I've done a few of those and the kids are at the age when they can keep up. I don't usually think about my backyard.

It's true, we have a pretty adventurous yard. Half remains native vegetation with a couple of trails and the river runs just on the other side of the fence. (Yes, the fence meant to keep the kids from going to the river without us that they can now open themselves. At least the dog can't open the gates.) We've camped in the back yard, but only as a warmup for trips away from home.

So what made our backyard truly adventurous? ZIP LINE!

Some fabulous relatives gave us the zip line for Christmas. They even had the decency to ask us if it'd be ok before they delivered the 20 pound present to the base of the tree.

It's about 100 feet long and drops from 18 feet to nine feet between the two big trees at either side of the yard. I had pushed up Putrid Pete's Peak earlier in the morning, but the idea of getting the zip line up gave me the extra energy to climb up and down the ladder most of the afternoon. By 3pm it was ready for testing, mostly thanks to my father-in-law.

When you start 18 feet above the forest floor you don't test with a live human. Since we don't have our own Buster I filled a pack with 90 pounds of rocks. Great plan, except 90 pounds of rocks is a lot to carry 18 feet up a ladder. As soon as I let go, the pack zipped down the line through the branches and slowed 10 feet before the end. Perfect.

Next it was my turn. In spite of loving to climb mountains I'm not really a big fan of heights. I was accused of loving the trees a little much earlier in the day, but I was really just hugging them because I was sure I was going to fall. So now I'm standing on the ladder holding the trolley and looking down the line that surely must drop more than nine feet. I'm proud it only took me three false starts to finally go.


Oh, that was fun.

Henry got to go first and had been wearing his harness all day in anticipation. He was a bit more trepidatious than I was and we climbed back down together. The boy that knows no fear must have found some. Fear's good and I'm thrilled he even climbed all the way up there.

While Henry usually doesn't know fear, Lilly doesn't know what fear even is. She was half way up the ladder while I was on the other end of the line. I had to slow her down to make sure she was all hooked up to the safety line and then she was gone.


Clara was next and overcame her fears to climb up and jump into space. To be fair, she has a couple of friends with zip lines at their houses, but this was higher and she has frozen on trails in the past.

WEEEEEEE! (She's a little more restrained than Lilly.)

Of course, there were repeat zips and first time zips for my father-in-law and a neighbor. Everyone agreed it was a great addition to the backyard. Now we just need to build a platform, a treehouse, and a bridge between the two. You know, the easy stuff.

Secretly, I love that we got the kids outside, having fun, and exercising without them realizing it. (Don't think it's exercise? Try holding your legs up while you fly through the air.) Plus, I had a blast getting it all set up and finding adventure in our own bacyard.

(Interested in doing this yourself. The kit we used is the Hornet from Backyard Play Places. The kids used either the Black Diamond Wiz climbing harness or something close to the Edelrid Fraggle Full-Body climbing harness.)

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