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Travel: A treetop adventure in our backyard

Ziptrek Ecotours offers much more than ziplining

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What goes through your head as you walk down a set of stairs (sans handrail) that lead directly into a chasm of trees, rocks and rushing water, and prepare to leap off the edge?

I’ll spare you the expletives, but needless to say, the beauty of the natural surroundings tends to fade away, drowned out by the thundering sound of your heart pumping and your breath quickening to a frantic pace. But that jolt of adrenaline, right before pushing off of the edge and praying that a climbing harness, steel zipline cable and pulley will bear your weight, is just what all adventure seekers are after.

Now, a slight preface here: while others may consider donning a squirrel suit and base jumping out of a helicopter “extreme,” Ziptreking, to many others (including myself), is pretty damn scary/exhilarating.

I’ve been waiting to make a trip with Ziptrek Ecotours since I moved here a year and a half ago, so when my friend, Meghan, came for a visit, it was time to take the plunge — literally.

But before taking you along on our journey, a bit of history: back in 2001, two friends and entrepreneurs, Charles Steele and David Udow, founded the adventure tourism company with the vision of combining ecology education with a killer adrenaline rush. Mission accomplished.

Their site encompasses over 33 acres of diverse terrain, which includes old growth and second growth forest, steep cliffs and the forest floor, and spans the area between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.

On top of their two Ziptrek tours — Bear and Eagle — they also offer the TreeTrek canopy walk, a fully-guided ecology tour that takes guests along the treetops by suspension bridge and observation platforms. Perfect for the less adventurous explorers out there, and for families, as kids under the age of six are permitted, though they must be in a carrier.

For our very first Ziptrek experience, we opted to check out the Eagle Tour, which features five ziplines and three treetop bridges, lasts for about three hours and costs $119 for adults and $99 for youth and seniors.

Starting out at the Carleton Lodge, we were introduced to our friendly and informative guides, Al and Jay, who would be leading us into an exploration of the coastal temperate rainforest right in our own backyard. Al, who has worked for Ziptrek for one and a half years, now has guided over 1,000 tours, leading groups of all ages and backgrounds through the thrilling course.

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