If you’re just tuning in to our Alaska adventures, here are the links to Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, Part VIII, Part IX, Part X Part XI, Part XII, Part XIII and Part XIV. Where did we leave off last? I was frozen to the core – overwhelmed, overstimulated, scared, and experiencing a marital big chill. We left Seward for Anchorage, stayed for an hour or so, and then we wandered into Talkeetna and had a great dinner at the brewery. We prepared for some sort of adventure.
We woke up to another overcast day, but it’s really about conditions around Denali. Talkeetna is about 100 miles from Denali and DOES have mountain views.. on a clear day, of course. In fact, we heard about a couple who went to Denali for seven years in a row, and only actually SAW the mountain on the seventh year. On the seventh year, they rested, because six years of fog or clouds or Mordor or whatever else might ruin your visibility was present. We did not see the mountain even once!
After we got dressed, we had a hot breakfast at our Inn – Swiss Alaska Inn. Cassidy called the two biggest flight companies to get flight tours to Denali. No one was flying! It was so sad. Here I was WILLING to confront my small plane phobia.. like five times now.. (?) and the weather wasn’t allowing for it. I was not backing down once. I actually wanted to circle a giant, snowy mountain by small plane. I wanted to dip and soar. I didn’t even care. It’s Denali. In my mind’s eye, you could see moose roaming around and around, two by two, circling up a mountain. I don’t care that it wasn’t based on reality, mostly, but I was WILLING. Let it be said. The record states. I was ALL IN and ready to rock that small plane. Or NOT rock it! Yikes.
I was still very much stuck inside my head. Cassidy was too. We were like abandoned satellites in an empty station – both calling out to nothing? Message not received? Message not going out. Does this analogy make any sense at all? It might soon.
So I did what any broken satellite would do. I walked into Denali Zipline Tours and decided to see if they were going out on this wettish, overcast day. (I was secretly hoping not) What’s that? They WERE! And there’s a three hour canopy tour over a boreal forest leaving in just 30 minutes? Well, ok. Here’s my credit card and my life insurance policy. I’ll sign a waiver, have a snack, go to the bathroom before I can’t anymore (that’s for you, Kenya – no bathrooms on the tops of forests), and there’s no turning back. Do not even pass GO! and collect your $300 back. This is happening. I don’t even care if you feel sick!
I was wearing LulaRoe leggings I had gotten for my sister, but hadn’t given her yet. They made me feel brave. She’s a ziplining kind of gal. We were in a group with eight people and two guides. One of the women (lovely) on our tour had been a zipline INSTRUCTOR in another country, and she was nervous! I guess it’s the whole boreal forest thing? We were promised a three hour canopy tour with nine exciting zips, panoramic Denali views, and woodland aerial walkways. I will say they delivered, and it’s not their fault we couldn’t see Denali. We could at least see where it should have been on a clear day.
So we got a few lessons on the ground, and made our way up, up, and up. Everyone was nervous, and that was sobering and humbling and connecting. We knew we were safe at all times, and I’m not afraid of heights even a little, but the sights of the parking lot swirling lower and lower, made me a little light-headed. I was nervous but also not nervous, because I just wanted to FEEL, and not like a broken radio or satellite, so it both repelled and propelled me. There was some rappelling too!
For all of us, the ones over concrete or parking lots seemed a lot worse than the ones over.. just forest.. or water. Even though these weren’t the highest or fastest zips, I think they freaked us out more. Also, we were still newbies then.
I think we were thawing towards each other? I know I was internally. (burning up, baby) There was something about the relief and vulnerability. I’m not saying that the great chills can’t lead to scarring, but I was really happy to be with him.
I liked the zips better than the aerial walkways (which were still scary) and definitely better than the rappels, although I obviously survived all that. I think each step was another step outside my comfort zone. I can’t complain there!
I paid for the photo package, which was just phone photos, but it’s SO WORTH IT. I get to see the looks of fear and relief on my face! And relive all the magic – like this little place which surely looks to NEED moose by it, right?
“The final and longest zip of the tour will span close to 600 feet – with most of the ride suspended over “Reflection Pond” – landing on the final platform six feet off the ground with an easy stair exit and a short drive back to downtown Talkeetna.”
You had to take the time to look down at the water. In some of the zips, you don’t have that time. This one is long and not even the fastest – it’s so peaceful. I think the photo of me was too blurry, but we have lots to look at.
What we didn’t know, because the zip was so long that you couldn’t see the end, was that there was an employee at the end waiting to drive us the three miles back to town. He also held up scorecards on our landings. I got an 8.5! Cassidy got a 10.
My final advice? Do it. Pay for the photos – it’s only a bit more money – but you’re paying for the memories, the chance of a life (or death)time, and the deep feelings of accomplishment and relief when you finally get on the ground again.
Next up – well the magic is never over. Think of funny waitresses accidentally swearing in front of patrons. Dessert at the ritziest part of town. Abandoned satellites, moose heads in the streets, Hatcher Pass, magic, and more magic!
Janine Huldie says
Omg, I am such a chicken with heights and not sure I could ever do this, but still if I did I would also go with Lularoe leggings and hot pink. So, in that way once again, twins action in force 😉
hah, well maybe we’d go together and be twins, because fashion matters when you’re dangling from the line! Then people know it’s you!!
OMG what’s the basis for scoring the landings?! LOL. I have to say that’s one big adventure that I’d also love to try someday. I’ve ziplined and rappelled a couple of times and I’m always nervous during the first few minutes but would feel comfortable after a few deep breaths.
I’d totally pay for the photos too. In fact, I paid for mine when I last ziplined. Truly worth it and I also got a cute certificate. 🙂
Good question and I barely remember! It was about not going in too fast, or too slow, and then the guide can’t grab ya! Also, I almost got off on the wrong side of the platform, which is why I get an 8.5. Cassidy had a flawless landing, apparently. Or close!
lisa thomson-The Great Escape... says
Wowsa! You are so brave, Tamara. I keep saying that. I love that you wore hot pink and that you bought the photo package. You were in front of the lens for a change. Great shots! The water looked awful close to the zip height…could you almost dip your feet in or is the pic deceiving? I loved your play on words in this post, too! Nicely done!!
The pic is deceiving! You’re quite above the water, but I like to imagine you can just lazily dip your fingers into it. It’s a slower and longer zip than most of the others. Some of them give you no time to think or imagine!
Oh yes yes yes to the Phishy reference!!!!! And Pink Floyd, and maybe (I’m not sure) Dave Mathews? I just assumed to be honest, because you mentioned Satellites 🙂
LOVED this. And your bravery and courage. Don’t mind me, I’m just peeing my pants on the sidelines over here. I think the parking lots would freak me out too. That and thinking that I’m holding up the whole group because, again, peeing myself. These photos are gorgeous! Looks like you had a wonderful time 🙂
Pretty much all of that! You got it!!
The photos were just a guide’s phone, but they totally didn’t disappoint. No way to bring a bulky camera up there so I love what they did.
Nodding my head, I hear you😁 Oy! You are brave. I’ve only zip lined once, in San Francisco. A short little zip. It was fun. I think I missed the part about the marital chill…Off to find out what happened.
In San Francisco?! I need to go investigate this at once!
Hurray for leggings!!! That may be the only part of this that I’m brave enough to do…
ha! Well it’s a start. I wasn’t brave until for leggings until 2016!
Annmarie John says
I’m not good with heights but learned to overcome my fear while in the army. We had to learn to rappel down buildings, zipline, climb buildings and parachute. All crazy stuff but necessary sometimes in the line of duty. I am loving this series because I’m getting all the ins and outs for when I do visit Alaska myself. BTW Cassidy just looks so fearless!
Oh boy – you have faced your fears head-on. I’m sure this would seem easy compared to what you learned to do.
Cassidy wasn’t scared at all!
Deliberate Mom (@DeliberateMom) says
This is AWESOME!
First off, I’m loving those leggings!
Secondly, believe it or not, this anxiety-ridden, chicken-lady did a zip-line and repelling tour while on my honeymoon in Kauai! It was awesome, scary, but fun! I loved it!
Your post gave me great memories!
Thanks for sharing!
I believe it! Fellow chicken ladies unite!!!
Good for you for doing it! Face your fears and what beauty you saw! Glad you got the photo package. In the end the photos are the most precious as they help preserve the memory!
I agree. They are living proof to all my family members who were like, “Who ARE you?” when I said I did this, but also it makes me remember everything more clearly!
I give you ENORMOUS POINTS on this one. I would have been a scaredy cat for sure. I don’t like heights. I didn’t even do the zipline in Park City when we were there. I can’t argue with how beautiful those views are, but I don’t think I could have done it. I don’t seem to be afraid of small planes, but hanging from a clip on a rope? Not so much…
Oooh, Park City. I hope I get there one day.
I have so many fears, but somehow heights are not one of them. This certainly tested that, though!
Loving your photos! I could not do that – and that bridge terrifies me just looking at it! I am such a wuss when it comes to heights. However, I could definitely do the leggings! 🙂
I hated the bridge! Somehow it was scarier than the zips because it was longer. The zips are over fast. This was not!
A three hour zipline tour?! I don’t know if my bladder could handle it, but wowza that is pretty! Yes, pay for the photos. What fun!
There was a bathroom in the beginning and one at the end, but I swear no one was thinking of it while up there! Ok, maybe the more afraid ones were..
I’ve only ziplined once, but it was one of my favorite things ever. I would LOVE to do it in Alaska.
Ooh, I bet there are awesome places to do it in the PNW. There are here and I can’t wait to finally try it locally!
ziplining! oh my. I’ve watched my friends do it but have never had the urge. You look great at it though!! The bridge looks awesome too.
The bridge was scarier than the zips! My big sister loves to zipline so it was a shocker to everyone that I did it. I’m always the scaredy cat sister.
I love that you wore the leggings you got for your sister! It’s important to test drive cute clothes 🙂
haha! I know. I think I was test driving to see if I’d like them..
Just kidding. It was a suitcase accident that wound up in my favor because they made me feel brave!
Sonya K says
Wow!!!! Your bravery in Alaska is inspiring. Zip linings sounds amazing, but I don’t think I could summon the courage to actually do it.
I always thought the same thing, and also of roller coasters. Not sure why I’m changing, but I’ll roll with it!
Wowzers! I am too scared of heights to zipline, but you go, girl!
I totally get it, because heights are not one of my fears, but the ones I have? No dice!
Bev Feldman @ Linkouture says
Oh man, what an adventure! I too would be nervous but not nervous, excited but also like “What did I just get myself into?!” I’ve only been ziplining once (in Chile) and rappeling twice (on the same trip to Israel). They were both amazing and terrifying at the same time, though interestingly the hike off the mountain where I went rappeling was more terrifying.
Dude, that’s awesome!! I’d love to see photos of that!
Ziplining’s my favorite. I’m surprised they don’t have a video option – they can charge extra money for it. 😉
Kenya G. Johnson says
I laughed out loud at “that’s for you Kenya”! I’m glad we bought the zip lining pictures because I don’t think I’ll ever do it again. I was all caught up in the moment but now I’m like, “I can’t believe I did that.” And Christopher was nine I think. I always went after him. It was easier for me to go behind him than watch him come after me. I guess that’s so I would see or feel his reaction to it.
i’m so glad that you paid for the photos…what an adventure and so picturesque. we typically pay for photos as well. even though it’s expensive, why not. it’s all about the memories! by the way, i LOVE your leggings!
I am so glad you did this!! I would love to do this — I probably won’t get to do this in Alaska, but somewhere.
Also, I can comment again!! Yay. For some reason your blog was being blocked by my spyware (wait, are you a spy?!! hee) but now your back!! 🙂