WHEN MY MOTHER, a 4th grade teacher of 25 years told me “I want to go ziplining.” I thought I heard wrong- “say again, I think the connection is breaking up.” “I want to go ziplining," she repeated. "It sounds fun and it’s something I have to try.” As luck would have it the town I live near, Big Sky, Montana happens to have a popular zipline course that many Yellowstone Park visitors frequent for an out of car experience. So, I said “heck yes, let’s do it!”
After we hung up, I thought about how my mom would never even ride the Ferris wheel, forget a roller coaster. She preferred the low ride of the tilt-a-whirl. Now this new zest for heights was shocking, yet something I could wholeheartedly get behind.
The plan was made for her to come out to Montana to zipline.
It was a beautiful July afternoon with thunder heads building on the horizon. I picked mom up at the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport and we headed south to where our adventure was waiting. It was a Friday evening and we had a night to get ready for tomorrow was our big day. We needed a good meal and a good night of sleep. Word around town was that the best spot for a bite was the Friday Night BBQ at the Bunker Bar & Grill, so there we went. Perched overlooking a willow patch on the Middle Fork of the Gallatin River with expansive mountain views we devoured citrus marinated Salmon, zucchini, eggplant, summer squash and potatoes all grilled to savory perfection. Then for dessert a “build your own” Strawberry Shortcake with lots of velvety homemade whipped cream.
After dinner we rolled ourselves through the Mountain Village past children roping log steers and playing the free mini golf course. We stayed in the Village Centercondo hotel. Our hotel donned wrought iron pine cone light fixtures, stone floors and fireplaces. Mom liked the modern amenities with the old lodge feel. “It’s nice to have everything I need, yet still feel like I am on a rustic getaway. I am just not into roughing it anymore, if I don’t have to”. Exhausted, we crawled into our beds, cozying up in our 300 thread count sheets. There was no need to count sheep.
The Big day had arrived. We peered out the window as the morning light touched the mountain peaks. We decided to order from room service and ate al fresco on our deck.
At 9 am at the Basecamp, we met up with our zipline guides and rest of the brave group of zipliners. After getting rigged up in our harness, helmets and girth hitched to lanyards, carabiners and pulleys we headed up the trail. As we meandered up through the lodge pole pines our guide Brad told us about the geology of the Madison mountain range through his colorful blue Rayban sunglasses.
The next thing we knew we were there at the first line. In a single file we jumped one after the other and swooped across a mountain meadow with mountain bikers below. Then it was mom’s turn…She boldly got up on the platform, our guide Angela clipped her on then safety checked “seven, eight, you are rolling straight, go ahead when ready!” Mom nodded slowly, took an unsure step backwards, shot over a look of complete uncertainty or was that fear? “You can do this” I said to her. She turned, nodded and stepped off into flight. I looked across and SHE MADE IT! Next, I stepped up to the platform, locked, loaded, soared. Even my nerves of steel were a little shaken. After a round of high fives with the group and a big hug to mom, we strutted to the second line. We passed blooming lupine (named after the latin word for wolf-lupinus, because their flowers look like a wolf’s tooth) alongside the trail that waved a standing ovation to mom.
At line two our guide Ashley demonstrated how to flip upside down for a more interesting ride across. Mom stayed with the traditional form of feet first; I opted for head first. The third and final line sashayed us over a ten foot cliff and past a hero view of the Spanish Peaks. We all hooted, hollered and high fived each other. The group was chirping excitedly about their next adventure. Some were off to whitewater rafting, paintball, or the giant swing. We headed to the Lone Peak Expedition, the tram to the top at 11,166 feet for another breath taking, fear-of-heights busting adventure.