Embellished with precarious overhangs and crevices, RockQuest Climbing Center’s 20,00-square-foot wall affords challenges to climbers of all skill levels. The expanse features separate areas for bouldering and roped climbing and is open to all climbers who can pass a simple belay test. A staff of experienced climbers, meanwhile, offers belay courses to acquaint newcomers with proper climbing technique and safety considerations.
The exuberant energy of childhood led many youthful explorers to climb their first tree, but the staff of EarthJoy Tree Adventures turned it into a lifetime pursuit. During safety-conscious lessons, instructors combine the rope-assisted techniques of rock-climbing with a few tree-specific tricks honed over lots of practice. They scurry up the trunks of old, vibrant trees, swing, surf and hang amid the branches, and rappel down. They teach students how to bring gear up with them during a climb and string a hammock between branches. Such hammocks provide a restful retreat from the world below—even a place to pass the night as humanity’s ancient ape-like ancestors must have: nestled among the high bows of a tree, waiting for a flash of lightning so they could read a few more words in their book.
Amid leafy branches and between gently swaying trees, Tarzan impersonators soar through the air. Dagaz Acres' eco-adventure zipline course lets children, adults, and adult-size children explore woodland canopies up to 70 feet high, and staff ensures that participants glide snugly in their half-body swing harnesses. Adventurers plunge through seven dual ziplines strung over 23 acres of ground and ravines, three canopy-level ziplines, and two bridges. One bridge is a Burma bridge built with varying types of rope, and the other is a plank construction pirate bridge that stretches 90 feet and swings over a ravine to discourage motorcycle-chase sequences.
Dagaz Acres' staff members spread their love of outdoors learning to team-building and leadership exercises held in single-day and overnight programs. They train athletic teams and office groups through ground exercises and on a low-challenge ropes course, which allows participants to engage in physical challenges without the added risk of a bird nesting in their hair. The company reflects this passion in its name, Dagaz, which is derived from a Nordic rune meaning "transformational breakthrough change." Staffers enable others to change through adventure as they design, build, and maintain zipline and ropes courses elsewhere through Dagaz Acres Management Inc. construction division.
Tac Force Challenge tests the strength of racers by putting them through the rigors of an adventure 5K obstacle course designed by power lifters, martial-arts experts, and special-operations professionals. The muddy, muscle-straining course houses 31 obstacles, such as rope walls, river dashes, unbalanced beams, log trips, and tunnels that force runners to use all their strength and jet-pack fuel to reach the finish line. Participants begin their first race ranked as a Private and advance closer to General as they complete each run. This progress is saved in the Tac Force database, which catalogs completion dates so that the government knows whom to call in the event of a sweaty-bicep shortage.
Skyward Adventures, Inc. invites visitors to don a harness and grab hold of a zipline bars, then hold tight as they careen through the forest canopy. Ten lines, a spaghetti bridge, and a log bridge constitute the zipline layout, a stretch that takes approximately 2.5 hours to complete. Before setting off on their high-speed trip, however, each participant takes part in a safety discussion with the experienced guides, then hikes up to the practice area for some warm-up runs and experience with the proper technique.
The hale and hearty team of instructors at Eco Expedition Educators boast an array of titles and certifications, including wilderness EMT, combat veteran, firefighter, master scuba diver trainer, sail boat captain, and U.S. Coast Guard medic—and there are only four of them on staff.
When participants take classes at Eco Expedition Educators, they gain an in-depth understanding of how to get themselves out of Mother Nature's toughest scrapes. Each guided expedition introduces novices to sticky situations they might encounter when outdoors, then equips them with the knowledge needed to escape unscathed or at least survive long enough to whittle a cellphone out of tree bark.