I am so excited that a rope park has finally made it to the Michiana area! I have been to several parks in Switzerland and had thought that a rope park (aerial park) would be a great way to be adventurous outdoors in a rather unadventurous part of the country.
What is a Rope Park?
For those of you who stumbled on this article and are asking yourself, "what is a rope park?" the easiest explanation is "a tree top jungle gym for adults". Kids can use it too but they have to be a certain height to reach the ropes.
After a well prepared introduction to the safety gear and a short 'how-to' course you are set free to the trees. The course I detail below has 11 different elements to conquer! This park has 2 Yellow courses, 2 Green courses and one Blue course, in increasing difficulty. I completed the Yellow Right, and both Green courses in 2 hours.
Why is this fun?
It's highly unlikely that you've ever done anything like this before, so it's new and anything new will make a lasting memory for you. It allows you to conquer fears, like a fear of heights. Somehow even though you are 20-50 feet in the air you feel safe with the equipment, allowing you to face that fear and tell it who's the boss. Lastly, everyone in the family can do it, and those that are too young, small or not ready for the challenge, can watch from below.
In this article I will take you through one of the beginner (yellow) courses offered at the Edge Adventure Parks Rum Village location. Check out the videos below to get an understanding of how it works.
Yellow Right Course - Element 1
The Yellow courses are designed to ease you into the park. From my experience this was a very good starter course although a smaller fellow in front of us got stuck on the zip-line because he was too light.
This first element is a simple horizontal ladder crossed without any issue. Nothing tricky, just a good first element to get used to having 'air' under your feet.
Yellow Right Course - Element 2
The second element is similar to the first, but the boards are now flipped so you only have the short/thin edge to walk on.
With only one middle rope for support it can feel a little wobbly.
Yellow Right Course - Element 3
The third element is a series of boards in a 1 - 2 - 1 construction. All the boards are hanging but stabilized because they all connected to each other.
You have three ropes for support, the middle rope with your safety gear and the two ropes that hang the element. I gradually changed to an under hand grip so I didn't rip up my under arms on the ropes.
Yellow Right Course - Element 4
The fourth element starts to get a little more tricky. Now the boards are wider than in Element 3 but they are not connected to each other so they swing independently. Again there are three ropes to choose from for hand support.
The best way to get through this one is to make sure the board you are stepping on is stabilized before transferring your weight. I also reached quite a bit forward, past the connection of the rope for the new board I stepped on. This way I effectively pulled myself forward and if the board did swing I was in a more stable position.
Yellow Right Course - Element 5
The fifth element starts with a little ladder to gain some elevation. This element is a bit deceiving because it looks simple, just a wavy bridge. It's not difficult at all but if you start it thinking it's going to be completely easy then get thrown off by the fact there is not much to hang onto.
Yellow Right Course - Element 6
The sixth element is probably on of the trickiest on the Yellow Right Course. You need to be very careful and put equal weight on the steps. They are all independent of each other making it easy to accidentally do the splits!
Yellow Right Course - Element 7
The seventh element is a zip line. These are really the easiest elements requiring no skill except to nail the landing. The young boy in front of us really had some trouble to land and ended up back in the middle of the line. He tried to pull himself to the other side but didn't have enough arm strength. In the end a staff member threw him a rope and pulled him to the landing platform.
Yellow Right Course - Element 8
The eighth element is a series of boards hanging independently from each other. (similar to element 4 but thinner). You have a lot to hold on to so the key to this one is the transition from board to board. Again you could find yourself in a splits situation if trying to push off from one to another.
Yellow Right Course - Element 9
The ninth element is made more difficult by where the security rope is positioned. For kids this one should be quite easy to simply walk across and hold the rope above their head. For adults the rope is too high to put under your arm and too low to put over your head. I did kind of a squat walk to adjust my body height to the rope. I also noticed when my nephew crossed, he tried to point his feet sideways and shuffle but this made if very uneasy to grab the rope. You can see in the video he adjusts his walking half way through and made it much easier for him.
Yellow Right Course - Element 10
The tenth element is one I had not experienced before, kind of a slack line. I'm not so familiar with slack lining but what I could tell from watching is to stay with both feet on one line. The instinct is to use both lines but this makes it harder since the line has too much slack. If you stay on one side the whole time the line stays tight and much easier to navigate.
Yellow Right Course - Element 11
The eleventh and last element is another zip line, this time to the ground. The key for a good landing is to start moving your feet before you hit the ground. You may feel a little silly but you will feel even more silly if you end up dragging your feet. You won't land face first since the safety harness prevents it.
Overall we did three courses in the park in a 2 hour time slot. If you want to do more in the same time I suggest going when it's less busy. Most of the time we spent was with waiting for other people to finish the element ahead of us.