TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Features

June 23, 2014

Flying across Sheltowee

Family tackles new thrill in Corbin

CORBIN — By Kristina Smith / Staff Writer

There was a brief burst of laughter as they all joked about signing their lives away, but there was also a hint of nervousness about it.

No loose clothes, no gum, and shoes must be strapped on.

The liability waiver and list of rules covered a full page, bright orange, front and back.  But the Reynolds family was signing it anyway — well, all but one of them.

“He’s too scared of heights,” Samantha Reynolds, 35, said as she jerked a thumb toward her husband.

Big Zipper stands 30 feet off the ground, or just a little over nine meters if you prefer to think of it that way.  But regardless of how you count it, Big Zipper is far up in the Corbin sky.  Its counterpart, Little Zipper, is not much to scoff at either, standing 15 feet tall.

It’s Big Zipper that the Reynolds family is after, though.

At 450 feet long, Big Zipper is Sheltowee Trace Outfitter’s newest addition to their outdoor adventure resort. The zip line takes riders across Sheltowee grounds at 35 miles per hour give or take, depending on a rider’s weight.

Sheltowee’s General Manager Dania Egedi collects the freshly signed waivers from the Reynolds and it’s time to suit up.

In the Reynolds’ years of traveling from Hart County to the Cumberland Falls area, never before have they done something like this. Actually, they’ve never zip lined anywhere before.

“The anticipation is the worst,” explained Christian Reynolds, 17.

“I’m nervous,” said Austin Miller, 16, who came along with his girlfriend Hayley Reynolds, 15. “That’s very high up.”

Zip line and raft guide Bobbie Curry pulled tight one strap after another on Austin’s harness and helmet. One final tug, then he’s ready to go.

“Has anyone ever backed out before?” Samantha asks Curry.

“Oh yeah, a few,” Curry said.

It is hot outside, and unfortunately, the heat isn’t the dry kind. There’s a kind of stickiness in the air that has everyone sweating by the time they get suited up and drenched by the time they climb the 30 feet to the top of the zip line tower.

Christian gives a gallant thumbs up and before too long, he is flying through the air racing against Austin, who is on the zip line next to him.

The Big Zipper doesn’t just give riders the thrill of zipping along at high speeds, there’s also an element of competition involved. Because the Big Zipper is actually composed of two side-by-side zip lines, riders can race against one another to the end. The winner gets bragging rights until the next time.

And the next time is completely up to the riders themselves. The zip lines run rain or shine year round.

“Do people actually do this in the rain?” asks Samantha.

“Yeah we’ve had some. Just because it rains doesn’t mean we stop,” Curry said.

Of course the rain deters some people from zipping across Sheltowee, as Egedi explained earlier, but so far that’s not had much of an impact on business. Egedi prefers for eager zip liners to make reservations so that she can make sure they have the proper staff on hand, but walk-ins are taken.

“Zip lines are becoming more and more popular because it gives something fun for people to do rather quickly,” Egedi said.

Egedi is confident that the zip lines will draw in more of the local communities despite Sheltowee’s current customers who are just traveling through, much like what the Reynolds are doing.

It’s Samantha and Hayley’s turn, and for Samantha there is a moment of hesitation.

“Just sit down; your harness will hold you up.  When you’re ready to go just lift your feet,” coaches Curry.

Zip line safety is a concern for almost every customer who comes through, Egedi explained.  However, Egedi takes pride in the precautions and safety measures Sheltowee takes to ensure their riders are safe.

Zip line instructors go through three days of professional training. The zip line itself was designed according to the Association for Challenge Course Technology standards. Every day the zip line and rider equipment is inspected by staff before Sheltowee opens.

Samantha Reynolds finally places her trust in that equipment, raises her feet, and then she is off flying down the zip line with her daughter beside her – shrieking with joy the entire way.

“I loved being able to do this with my kids,” Samantha said.

“People have to do this at least once,” said Christian.

But once wasn’t enough for Miller.

“I’m doing this again sometime,” Miller said.

Egedi encourages anyone interested in the zip lines to go online to the Sheltowee website, www.ky-rafting.com, check out the rider restrictions, and then place a call to reserve a date and time to take a ride. A single zip down the line is $25, but a four zip package is also available for $90.

 

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