We put things on our bucket list for all kinds of reasons. To face fears, to challenge ourselves, for the adrenaline rush, to recapture our youth and even because it looks fun. I had going zip lining on my list for all of those reasons. The nice folks at Minnesota Zipline Adventures could help with their Brainerd Zip Line Course.
*Minnesota Zipline Adventures sponsored this adventure, but as always my opinions are all my own.
My first mission was to find a partner in crime. My sister was the first person I thought of since we had done similar adventures growing up. This was a little out of her comfort zone, but I managed to convince her we’d be just fine. I started to get concerned that she was getting cold feet when I texted her the day of with our departure time and she didn’t respond. Thankfully she showed up on time and we were off for our adventure.
Next up, ground school. They provide this training before all their trips. This was the most comprehensive ground school training I have ever completed. They have a practice line setup a few feet off the ground to try. The guides go over all maneuvers and hand signals used on our adventure. Then you get to try it all out. Once you are comfortable, you move on to your first zip line.
The Brainerd Zipline Adventure
The first one is always the worst. You have no idea what to expect. Once up there, I got dizzy. It took me a minute to realize that it was the tower swaying in the wind and not me. I was afraid I was having vertigo from the nerves. After watching the people in front go, the fears fell away. The only fear that was left, was if I would remember how to break when I got to the end of the line? I stood up to the edge, the guide did a quick hand position check to confirm I remembered how to break and I pushed off. Below me was nothing more than the trees. It was completely freeing exhilarating.
My sister, on the other hand, did not have the same freeing experience. She was the last person left to go in our group. As she got in position, after 10 seconds, she would say, “Um, no, I can’t do this”. The guide just waited patiently and told her she could do it. As her sister, I was already on the next platform and there was nothing I could do to help her. After about 3 or 4 attempts, and some cheering from the rest of the group, she finally did it! I was so proud of her. I knew it was something she wanted to do but was terrified. She made it to the platform with no troubles. After that, she was hooked.
At no point did I ever feel unsafe. You are connected to cables on every single tower or tree stand through 2 connection points. The guides will never force you to do something you are uncomfortable with and there wasn’t peer pressure to do anything. The group was incredibly supportive. Even if asked, the guides will not push you off a platform. It’s all at your own pace. The only pressure was peer pressure from those we told before we left let we were going zip lining. Neither of us wanted to back and having to tell our family we chickened out.
The Free Fall Experience
The Brainerd zip line course has 15 miles of zip lines, broken into 7 runs, a 65 foot Indiana Jones style bridge, and a 50 foot free fall tower jump. I may have mastered the zip lines but when it comes to stepping off a ledge into a free fall, that is another story. After watching the demonstration, my sister sat this one out. I felt I needed to face this fear myself. They call it a controlled fall. Using a fan and magnet system, the harness gives you the sensation of a free fall for 3-5 seconds before slowing your descent to the ground.
My first attempt to jump I stood at the edge of the platform in total feer. I convinced myself to do it, but instead of leaping from the platform, my nerve had me collapsing and backing away. I could barely stand. All I needed to do was take a step, or jump. After about 3 failed attempts to make myself step off an edge, I finally did it. It was the most terrifying, but exhilarating thing I have ever done.
No handheld cameras are allowed. This includes cell phones. They make you empty your pockets before you leave just to make sure. You will need your hands the whole time. Go Pro’s or Action Camera’s are the only option for photos or videos. They are available to rent for $20 or you can bring your own. The only camera attachment you can use is the head straps. The hand glove and chest mounts will not work. The Brainerd Zipline provides straps for their guest.
Must be 10 years old
Closed toe and covered heel shoes. Dress for the weather. Make sure your clothing covers skin where the harness will touch. Otherwise, you may be left with marks.
Bring a bug repellent with Deet. They have mosquitos and ticks in the county and you are spending 2.5 hours in the woods.
I am already looking through my calendar to see when I can go again. This was one of my favorite trips of the Summer and definitely the best zipline tour in MN. They are offering a Fall Colors tours were you zipline over the canopy of colors and will be adding a Moonlight runs soon, so watch the Brainerd Zipline booking site to find out more. They also have a location in Henderson Minnesota that is a little closer to the Twin Cities. The Henderson location runs courses in Winter too. If you want to do an extreme adventure in MN, I would recommend trying out ziplining!
More Info: Zipline MN
Directions: Nisswa MN
When To Visit: Summer and Fall in Brainerd or even try out winter zip lining in Henderson MN
Recommended Guide: Saying Hi to the Legend in Brainerd at Paul Bunyan Land
Other Recommends: Bring your GoPro or rent one of theirs. Trust me!