Five years ago, if you would’ve asked me to strap into a harness, climb 50 feet off the ground, push off from a platform in the trees and crash into a cargo net, hanging in mid-air, I would’ve emphatically told you, “NO”. I’ve never been the adventurous, adrenaline-rush type and usually try to avoid any and all situations where someone could potentially lure me into an extreme sports or X-games-like circumstance. Well, that was until I had to do it for work.
As part of a team-building activity on a business trip in Portland, Oregon, I was
lured taken to a ropes course called Tree to Tree. Once properly geared up and brought up to speed on the do’s and don’t’s of safety, my team tackled the ropes course. Climbing rope ladders up to wooden platforms, walking across tight ropes and zip-lining from the tree leaves into cushioned mulch beds below. Much to my surprise, it was a lot of fun.
So when I heard that St. Louis’ Creve Coeur Park was getting a ropes course of its own this past summer, I jumped at the chance to take my niece there during her annual summer visit to St. Louis. The name of the ropes course is Go Ape, and they have six locations across the country, including the one that recently opened in Creve Coeur Park. The course is open to children, starting at age 10, and adults 18 and over.
Since Mike and I brought my niece on the Go Ape adventure, the whole family ended up coming along. With my dad in tow, he took a few great shots to document the day.
While Go Ape was fun and definitely a good upper body workout, the day turned out to be a bust for my niece. Even though the age requirement is 10 years old, I would recommend waiting to take your kid until he or she is a couple years older. Unless your child is uber outdoorsy and adventurous, this course may not be the best way to spend an afternoon. My niece struggled to to the top of a rope ladder at the first station, and despite giving it her best shot, she decided to sit the rest of the day out. I couldn’t have been more proud of her for being brave and trying something new. At her age, I was afraid to swing the baseball bat in P.E. class.
Another kid we encountered during the day was also overcome by nerves at one of the last stations. We weren’t sure what the culprit of his nerves was, but it may have been the sheer sight of looking down to the ground from way up high. It is a little freaky when you come to terms with how sky-high you really are.
Unfortunately, this Go Ape course consisted a single course. The Tree to Tree course I did in Portland had multiple levels — beginner, intermediate and advanced. And there aren’t any escape routes or emergency exits at the various stations at Go Ape. If you’re ready to call it quits, you have to proceed station after station until your course leads you to solid ground.
After a little reflection, I’ve discovered that my ability to do a ropes course without total debilitating fear probably has to do with the fact that when in the act, I am in complete control. I dictate how fast or slow I move across the ropes. It’s not a roller coaster that drops or turns unexpectedly. Or like sky-diving where you hop out of a plane, and the rest is up to your parachute and God. The ropes course is really is a mental exercise for me. A lot of deep breaths, and a lot of just going for it.
Who knows. That might be the extent of my adventurous side. Still no plans to become a BMX bike rider or tight rope across the Grand Canyon.