Places and Spaces

Stepping through the trees at Treetop Trekking

A walk in the forest is often touted as a therapeutic and peaceful venture. But sometimes, a trek in the woods actually results in elevated levels of excitement and adventure (and possible anxiety). Especially when you’re trekking through the forest canopy, using ropes and logs and nets and cables as your trail.

Last summer we celebrated Father’s Day with an afternoon at Treetop Trekking at their Brampton location, and discovered that it was an incredible activity to do together as a family. We had talked about zip lining together for a few years, since our first experience zipping through the trees on a vacation in Costa Rica in 2012 got us hooked on the activity. (The rules for kids’ zip lining are different in Costa Rica than they are here in Ontario. Emma was seven years old when we she went on her Costa Rica zip line adventure. But back here at home we learned we had to wait until she was at least nine years old 55″ tall before we could zip through the trees close to home.)

Treetop Trekking offers locations across Ontario and Quebec, providing lots of opportunities to zip through the forests in different regions.We chose the Brampton course because it is less than an hour from our home and offers a 1,000′ zip line across Heart Lake.

What we didn’t know before we arrived, is that you have to work your way across a course before you can actually do a zip line. Using your balance and your feet to get across swinging logs, swaying cables, suspended bridges, Tarzan swings, and hanging nets, the zip line is the reward for not losing your balance. Or your breakfast. Or your mind. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t know that in advance, because my nagging fear of falling may have kept me at home. The Brampton park has 6 courses, 7 zip lines and over 65 aerial games.

I accomplished three courses in the three hours we spent in the park, and Alex and Emma completed five courses. Ironically, we didn’t do the 1,000′ zips, because we were too tired from working our way across the aerial courses and smaller zip lines.

In case you are wondering why I would willingly go to a place that scares me beyond reason, I learned in Costa Rica that, my fear of falling does not extend to hanging from a thin metal cable by a harness. Zip lining actually doesn’t scare me (much).  However, on our trip to Treetop Trekking, I did discover that crossing an aerial course is a whole other story. Aerial courses DO scare me. A lot.

On my first course, my hands shook. My legs shook. I was sweating. I was breathing hard. Seriously. Giving birth was easier than taking the first step along the aerial course. I really didn’t think I could do it. But with Alex and Emma gently encouraging me, I forced myself to take the steps to the next platform.

Here’s a tip:  The more you shake the cables/logs/nets/whatever, the harder it is to keep your balance. Finding a place of calm and your centre of balance is essential to successfully accomplishing the courses. Easier said than done when you are terrified of falling.

Fortunately, once you are standing on a platform way above the forest floor with a course ahead of you and a waiting line of people behind you, it’s pretty hard to back out. You really have no choice but to find that place of calm and get across the course!

Watching Emma and Alex work their way across the courses ahead of me helped inspire me to move along the treetops. They have no fear. At least, they don’t show it. And their nimble steps were impressive. We’re a close family, but that afternoon at Treetop Trekking brought us together in an even closer way as they encouraged and coached and cheered me along.

At the end of the day, as we walked out of the forest Alex declared that Treetop Trekking was the best Father’s Day he’d ever had, I was proud that I had faced one of my biggest fears and Emma was thrilled to stretch her muscles and sense of balance like the squirrels that live in the forest canopy. It’s an activity we’d love to try again, and the next time we might actually get across the 1,000′ zip line!

You Should Go! Here’s What You Need To Know….

Treetop Trekking opens in April for the trekking season and has five parks in Ontario and five parks in Quebec.

Check out their website for information including hours and rates specific to the location you would like to visit here:
Treetop Trekking

Reservations are recommended.

If you are planning on taking kids, please be sure to check the age, height and weight requirements BEFORE you go to the park.

All of your climbing gear, including helmets and harnesses are provided. I do recommend that you bring your own gloves, as the cables can be uncomfortable to hold – especially if you’re holding them with a white-knuckle-death grip.

Pack a cooler with cold drinks and snacks.

You will be required to sign a waiver and go through a brief training session on how to before you start the courses.

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