Monday, June 02, 2008

How to Build a Zip Line--Man Style

How to Build a Zip LineWhat did you do for Memorial Day? We fled town and escaped to my parents’ cabin north of Anchorage on the Kashwitna river and camped out for four-day weekend. Well, not exactly “camped out” because there were no tents involved. Absolutely none.

That’s why I like going to the cabin, because it’s not really a cabin but more of a small house with hot showers, electricity and comfortable beds. The kids would spend the whole summer sleeping out under the stars if they had their way but me? I hate being cold and dirty, my idea of roughing it is to have to use a generic brand of shampoo, so going to the cabin is a wonderful way to get away and get outdoors where the kids can get as dirty as they want outside then I can send them to take a shower when they come inside.

Yes, I'm a whimp. If I'd been a pioneer they'd have left me for dead by the side of the trail.

While we were making plans to go up to the cabin for Memorial Day I gave the men a project to complete: I wanted them to put in a zip line. Andrew was a little suspicious (I don’t know how many projects we’ve gone into where I’m saying, “Oh it’ll be easy!” then he’s left to figure out the war plan and work through all the details) but I promised him that I’d do all the research and order the parts if he would just install the thing.

I found several online stores that sold parts for zip lines and discovered that they’re not a cheap thing. Some ran upwards of $200 but I finally found a place, Extextoys.com, that sells a good solid zip line with 70 feet of cable for $90, free shipping. You can get them in different strengths but the one I ordered is a little more sturdy and can hold up to 225 pounds. They wouldn’t do the free shipping deal up to Alaska (how many times have I run into that?) but charged me $20 for 2-day UPS delivery, which isn’t too bad.

By the time the package arrived and Andrew saw the actual zip line he was more enthusiastic—seeing that it came with installation instructions and didn’t look too intimidating—and by the time the Saturday before Memorial Day came Andrew and the boys were scouting out the best spot to put the line. “This is great, we’re hiking with a purpose!” Andrew said.

They were looking for a place with a soft, mossy ground away from the ATV trails (don’t want someone running their four-wheeler through the middle of things) yet not too far from the cabin with a nice, gentle slope for a 70-foot cable and by the afternoon they’d found the perfect spot.

Andrew was really into the project by this time and he cleared out a nice run—I think he was sensing the challenge—and by dinner the zip line was up and working. It's plenty strong and will hold a large adult but the line sags slightly (as you can see in the footage) so you'd better have abs o' steel to be able to hold your legs out parallel to the ground for 30 seconds.

Here’s footage of the results, hope you had a good Memorial Day!




It's pretty safe with all that soft moss underneath as long as anyone who falls misses the occasional skinny pointy tree stump left from clearing the brush. One of our friends who came up for the day said it kind of reminded him of the bamboo spike pits set as booby traps in the jungles of Vietnam which added a nice element of suspense to the whole event. Maybe we should incorporate a pool of hungry sharks near the end to up the ante.

Anyway, here's a link to a clip of a zip line in South Africa claiming to be the world's longest, tallest, fasted zip line reaching speeds of 100 mph for 1.2 miles. Makes our little zip line look rather pathetic. Even with the spike pit below.

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Coralee from Beloved Fairy Tales won yesterday's shot at The Real Deal Guide to Pregnancy by Erika Lenkert. Congrats to all, I've got another to give away tomorrow then a couple more on Tuesday before hanging up my random number generator for the week. Thanks to everyone who's entered.

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27 comments:

Robin said...

You talked your husband into getting the kids their very own zipline? You are definitely the coolest mom ever. (Don't tell my kids though, they'll want to move in - or else have me run a zipline down from our 9th floor penthouse!)

Robin said...

Oh, and that South African one? Not for any amount of money!

Jennifer said...

It looks so fun. I admit I would spend way too much time plotting, planning and wondering how to land on my feet:)

Lauri said...

We want a zip line!

chelle said...

Wow that is by far the coolest thing ever!

Org Junkie said...

Wow that looks awesome! Did you go for a ride?

Karen said...

I've been on some really good ziplines, but the Youtube one is phemonenal. If I didn't have kids now, I'd totally be doing it.

Jaime said...

I'm so glad I found you again! Love this blog. It is nice to see another Alaska Blogger!

~Jaime Chase
www.ChaseNKids.com

patty W said...

That is SO cool! So much fun to be had! Any way to make it higher so y'all don't skim bottoms? LOL

Coralee said...

eeeeek! I won! Thank you so much!

Sheri said...

My sons love zip lines, it's their favorite part of Scout camp! They haven't found out that there's a way they could have their own, I will not be telling them that,lol. What a cool thing to do!

WherestheBox said...

Yours looks like a lot of fun, but you would never in a million years get me on the other one!

Killlashandra said...

Wow, that's a great idea. We need a few more slopes to accommodate the zip line but for the kids that was probably lots of entertainment. :)

Heffalump said...

I always thought it would be cool to have a zip line in our yard. Its kind of on the flat side though. Someday I would love to have some acreage and put a whole copes course in for fun...

Michelle said...

That would be very cool, I bet the kids were happy ;-)

cndymkr / jean said...

You are such a great mom. Seriously. I would never have thought of doing a zip line. My son wants to move in with you now.

Shannon said...

So cool! And I had to show my husband, too!

Tiff said...

I remember as a kid doing that at camp right into the lake. it was so much fun!!!

Overwhelmed! said...

Wow, I'm impressed that you made your own zipline! How fun!

I’m stopping by to let you know that I’ve got books up for grabs in my June Pay It Forward Book Exchange. Stop by to enter to win. :)

julie said...

The zip line looks like so much fun for the kids! I know my two would it!:) I'm from Anchorage (now in Phoenix) and every time we're up there I try to convince the family to head to Ketchikan so I can try the zip line there. It looks like a blast!

Stacey@Look, Mom, Look! said...

That is a GREAT idea! It looks like a blast and fun for any age!

Janet said...

Some friends of ours have one of these and both our kids have been on it. I want to, but I'd like to try it without a bunch of people watching. We want to get one but we're having a hard time figuring out where to put it so we don't slam into trees on the way.

Mary@notbefore7 said...

WOW! That looks like so much fun. I remember when my brother made one in our backyard with some rope and some of the equipment from the swing set...ummm...it wasn't quite so safe ;)

tjhirst said...

In your research and purchasing, did you find a limit to how steep a hill it might go on? We have a big "cliff" off the back of yard that might make a fun but dangerous zip line ride.

Domestic Spaz said...

I need to book a trip to South Africa.

Daniel cruise said...

It look like a very fun experience.

Nathan Sleadd said...

We've been putting together a Google map of zip lines in America and across the world. You can check it out here-

http://www.google.com/maps/ms?hl=en&gl=us&ptab=2&ie=UTF8&oe=UTF8&msa=0&msid=109846393464501586298.000464785141a8d043d1b

(Sorry for the long link.) I think you actually have the worlds longest zip line up there in Alaska- it's a cruise ship stop at Icy Strait Point.

-Nathan