The Geico pig was right. Soaring over treetops on a cable is "pure adrenaline".
I recently experienced it for myself on a Canaan Zipline canopy tour, a three-hour thrill ride with six water flyovers, among them a 900-foot run capable of propelling participants through the air at 27 miles an hour.
That's enough to get even experienced flyers squealing, "Wheeeeee! Wheeeeee! Wheeeeee!"
Built on a 100-acre island surrounded by the Catawba River, Rock Hill's Canaan Zipline features a network of cables and skybridges suspended high above the forest floor. Each participant is outfitted with a helmet, full-body harness, gloves and tether lines with an attached trolley.
The adventure begins with a practice run on a short cable about five feet off the ground. After receiving instruction on how to slow down, stop and pull ourselves along the cable, we commenced to climb the 105 steps to the top of a 70-foot tower.
Standing seven stories above the ground, we got a bird's eye view of the forest canopy and a channel of the Catawba River winding behind the island. I was enjoying the vista when I learned I would have to launch from a sitting position off a small platform extending out from the main structure.
"We call it the dance floor because when you sit on it, you're ready to boogie," quipped Conrad Carson, one of two zipline guides accompanying us on our adventure.
Scooting yourself off the dance floor and into thin air is the quintessential leap of faith. Arriving at the "Eagle's Nest", a circular platform wrapped around a wooden telephone pole, was equally harrowing. It took a minute to get used to the slight swaying you feel at treetop level.
From there, we zipped 300 feet across the river and then back again before reaching the first of the challenges, a cable crossing known as "Jungle Vines." The nickname refers to a series of ropes hanging from an overhead cable that participants can hold onto as they walk across a slack cable. Of course, you are securely tethered onto a second overhead cable, so there's no chance of falling more than a few inches.
The next zip took us from treetop to ground, requiring a little more skill at slowing down.
"You can do a Fred Flintstone and run to a stop or slide in like you're stealing second base," Carson said.
Having mastered speed control by the fifth zip, it turned out to be easier than anticipated.
A short nature trail takes you to the skybridge. As expected, it shakes when you step across the evenly spaced two-by-fours, but cable handrails provide a sense of security. As with all the crossings, you are attached to an overhead cable for safety.
Another ground-landing zip followed by a five-minute walk through the woods led to the mother of all runs - the 900-foot river crossing.
"The record is 31 mph," Carson told us, "but most don't go much past 27 mph."
That was plenty fast for me. Watching 100-year-old oaks, poplars and river birches flying past you will provide the much-touted adrenaline rush.
Participants must weigh between 75-265 pounds and be able to walk a mile to participate. Cost for the nine-zipline canopy tour is $89. A 1.5-hour bootleg tour also is available for $65. It includes five ziplines and a short nature hike.
To get all the details on Rock Hill's Canaan Zipline canopy tours, call (803) 327-6932 or click here.