On a high flying family adventure at Arbraska Lafleche in Quebec two short weeks ago I had the chance to face one of my biggest fears. My fear of heights. When I turned 45 I told myself that was long enough to be afraid of anything. Zip lining is one of those big adventures that’s been on my travel bucket list for awhile now. So when we had the chance to try it together, I jumped. Literally.
Zip lining with my family was one of the best, most challenging experiences we’ve had. It was fulfilling and fun and memorable and scary at times too. While facing my fear of heights I learned a few things that remain with me. These are my zip lining lessons for life.
I am not particularly adventuresome. As a child I was afraid of my own shadow. In my twenties I was often sick in the hospital with Crohn’s Disease. As a 30-year-old I was a busy Mom, loving every moment of parenthood after a long time waiting. In my 40s I have learned life waits for nobody. Now, I embrace new challenges and welcome exciting new opportunities often. Sometimes those are travel related adventures that scare me a little.
This year I had the chance to try surfing school and I was surprised to enjoy it. Even just a decade ago I never would have been fearless and I certainly would not have tried surfing, or zip lining. But in my 40s I am more fit and healthy than I was back then and I embrace new challenges. After surfing and paddle boarding, and kayaking too, I told myself I would conquer zip lining with my family. So when the opportunity presented itself in June to travel to Gatineau area and Outaouais Region I was stoked to see family zip lining on the itinerary.
Zip lining for me involved facing fear and that’s never easy. I am not a fan of heights at all. I tolerate flying because it is a means to an end, but the takeoff still gives me butterflies. So when we started the obstacles and the hiking to get to the start of the course at Arbraska Lafleche in Quebec’s Gatineau area I was a bit nervous. The July morning was easily 28 degrees Celsius and we hiked for quite a few minutes before getting to the starting area. After a thorough lesson on how to zip line safely, and a bit of tinkering with the GO Pro, we started.
For me, getting started was actually the hardest part. The first obstacle was up hill and escalated off ground quickly. Quite honestly I barely got through the first two obstacles and almost turned around and asked to do the kid’s zip line. But then I saw my entire family behind me and thought I’d be letting them down. My younger daughter had the same moment of panic before Daisy came over and talked us both through. After that the obstacles got a bit easier to handle psychologically, if not physically.
Numerous obstacles stood in our path, each one leading straight to the first zip line, which was a small warmup for the bigger zip lines staggered throughout the route. The initial jump was low to the ground and a small rush. Plus it was fun.
Each time we mastered a set of obstacles we were rewarded with a zip line at end of the section. There were 10 or 12 zip lines in all and several were spectacular. There were 2 or 3 that were simply breathtaking leaps into the forest and then one of the final plunges was straight over the lake, which was remarkable. We each wished we could have stopped midway and just absorbed all of that natural beauty and the sheer enjoyment of succeeding at something you never knew you could do.
After we completed all of the obstacles and all of the zip lines the final zip line took us down in altitude and then we each had to scale a rock wall over the lake. Ainsley went first and whipped through the final challenge before we took off our gear and helmets and snapped a few pictures. We each had legs and arms of jelly the next day from all the effort holding on to the carabiner clip and checking the lifeline and the hiking was fantastic exercise. It was more than worth the effort and the nerves.
In the end I enjoyed this so much I wondered what kept me from doing it sooner. I learned a few life lessons zip lining as well.
Five Zip Lining Lessons To Live By:
- Sometimes one foot in front of the other is good enough. Sometimes it’s the only thing. We repeated this a lot – left, right, left, right.
- Don’t look back. Don’t look down. Look forward. Keep going.
- You can do amazing things with your family beside you cheering you on.
- This moment right now is the only one that matters. It’s impossible to be thinking about grocery lists or worrying about bills when you’re hanging in the trees trying to balance. I found mindfulness at Arbraska Lafleche. In fact that is the meaning of being zen and in the moment. Brilliant feeling.
- I am bigger than my fear. We are bigger than anything we fear always. When we try and we put our minds and hearts into something we cannot help but succeed.
Our day at Abraska Lafleche was a true highlight of this entire year so far. I hope to return to do this again one day. The trails are beautiful and the scenery is lush. But more than that the staff were super supportive and kind, giving each of us the right amount of support and incentive to push on towards the goal.
Don’t forget to check the other family travel posts above for more ideas on where to go with family this year.
We were guests while visiting Gatineau and Outaouais Region. All activities and accommodations were generously sponsored. My opinion is all my own. Special thanks to Daisy who did not give up on us.