I feel like a cat burglar in a James Bond flick, gliding for more than a thousand feet on a wire high over the treetops near Bastrop.
But I’m not here to sneak into a museum or swipe precious jewels. I’ve come to Zip Lost Pines, a commercial zipline operation at McKinney Roughs Nature Park, to experience three of the company’s six ziplines, which crisscross shallow canyons and pine-studded parkland.
I’ve just swept down one called Loblolly Landing. One by one, a dozen students in the Adventure Journalism class I teach at St. Michael’s Catholic Academy swooped in behind me. Some laughed; a few seemed a little nervous.
Time to fly at Zip Lost Pines
The ziplines at Zip Lost Pines range in length from 150 to 1,374 feet. Riding them will make you feel like a spider dangling on a strand of silk. They’re smooth and fast, and paired side by side so you can race your friends.
When our group arrived this morning, we spent 20 minutes getting fitted in harnesses and helmets. Staff members briefed us on what to expect. They explained that the ziplines are equipped with automatic braking systems. We’d feel a jerk and a tug at the end of each ride, but nothing too violent.
We climbed a steep set of stairs, a few at a time, then navigated a wobbly suspension bridge to get to the first one, Valley Vista. In the distance, the Colorado River snaked its way toward the horizon. When I reached the platform at the top, an attendant clipped my harness onto the zipline, then checked to make sure it was fastened securely.
Then came the big moment: I crept up to the edge of the platform, tried not to think about the drop-off, and stepped into my fears. With a whir and a buzz, I zoomed away.
Get out of your comfort zone
“Coming out here and getting out of your comfort zone is good for your growth internally,” Allison Hickey, director of operations at Zip Lost Pines, told me later. “People come out here and face their fears.”
Sheer drop-offs and heights have always made me a little woozy, so I knew what she meant.
That first ride gave me confidence. The second line –– the 1,074-foot Loblolly Landing that reminded me of an action movie –– didn’t seem as daunting. And the final 535-foot sprint on Horseshoe Highway didn’t scare me much at all.
The trick to going faster, if you’re into that, is to ball your body up tight, to reduce wind resistance. Some folks can reach top speeds of 40 miles per hour.
Students share their thoughts on Zip Lost Pines
Jacob Poer, one of the students in the class, knew what to expect –– he’s ridden a zipline before.
“The first couple of times I was nervous, but this time not so much,” he said afterward. “When you’re first standing on that platform, you feel like you could fall. Then you lift your legs and you’re just going.”
He liked the second, longer line the best.
“It felt like flying –– that’s the only way I can describe it,” said Faith Price, another student in the class. “Nothing matters. It’s kind of like escaping reality. You’re just there in the moment.”
That moment, for me, meant disconnecting from technology and enjoying a few hours out in nature.
If You Go
Zip Lost Pines is located at 1760 State Highway 71 West in Cedar Creek.
Ride the ziplines. A full, six-line zip tour costs $125 per person; visitors can ride three lines for $105 each. The park also offers night zip tours and group rates.
Bring your smartphone along for the ride so you can take photos or video. The company will loan you a fanny pack to stow it. Info: www.ziplostpines.com