I am not the most athletic person.
I dropped gym in the tenth grade (immediately after it became optional). Before that option was made available to me, I generally tried to swindle my gym teachers into letting me write papers instead of participating in the 12-minute runs.
With that being said, a few years ago I was convinced into zip lining in Los Angeles, and despite my inner turmoil, I ended up having one of the best times I have ever had.
That is why my interest was piqued when I learned about the recent partnership between the Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA) and Treetop Trekking Company to create a new Zip Line and Aerial Game Park in the forested canopy of the Heart Lake Conservation Area in Brampton (10818 Heart Lake Rd., Brampton ON).
While Brampton certainly isn’t the first city that comes to mind when thinking about potential zip lining locations, the new facility is certainly impressive. The Aerial Park features eight courses ranging in difficulty level from beginner to expert, 10 zip lines and 75 different aerial games. The longest zip line stretches across 900 feet with the highest towering over 50 feet above the ground. The highlight of the park is almost certainly the twin zip line that crosses right over Heart Lake.
Last week, Toronto and Region Conservation arranged for a media day at the park.
After signing a waiver (probably the scariest part of the venture), media members were harnessed up and given a quick orientation session that included learning how to use carabineers to ensure maximum safety when climbing the trees. If you don’t know what a carabineer is, you’re not alone. I didn’t either. I learned that they are metal loops with spring loaded gates that are used to quickly and reversibly connect components in safety-critical systems. With each safety climbing line marked with where the carabineers had to be attached to, once you got the hang of it, the course was quite easy to navigate through.
In addition to the carabineer tutorial, all the media day thrill-seekers also had to pass a test where we had to fall back and release all of our weight onto our safety cords. It’s almost like the trust circle at summer camp where you have to fall back and trust that your friends will catch you (the only difference being that this time your “friend” is just the rope that you are attached to). After completing the fall, you have to hoist yourself back up and onto the rope. This is in an effort to prove to the Treetop guides that you would be able to reel yourself back should you find yourself stuck in the middle of one of the zip lines.
Despite some initial struggles and discomfort, I managed to pass both tests (luckily, there were no bonus points for style as my lack of grace resembled an inebriated gazelle) and I moved onto the rest of the games.
There is definitely something to be said for walking around in the trees and that is quite literally what the Treetop Trekking experience provides. While there is an initial period where your body is gets to know the tree-climbing system, when everything clicks, it is an exhilarating feeling. I certainly didn’t believe that I would be capable of walking across a thin tightrope high above ground or be able to negotiate my feet across a series of tiny wooden circles while being suspended 50 feet above the ground. The fact is that I did manage to do it and it is for that reason that I am sure you will be able to as well.
In addition, what I especially enjoyed about Treetop Trekking at the Heart Lake Conservation area was the fact that you were primarily on your own. While there was an orientation session and a guide almost always right in front of you and right behind you, it’s still up to you to figure out how to get across each obstacle and this only adds to the feeling of satisfaction you received after beating each impediment. There wasn’t any extended and external coddling and this made the treetop trek seem all the more real.
The highlight of the day was definitely zipping across “The Great Blue Heron” line that spanned across 900 feet above Heart Lake. It required a little more instruction than the other adventures but was quite easily one of the most enjoyable rides I have ever been on.
Treetop Trekking at Heart Lake Conservation Area in Brampton features activities for anyone over 9 years of age. A stand-alone zip line experience is also available for those who do not have the time for the full three-hour experience.
In terms of cost, it is $61.07 for adults, $51.33 for teens between the ages of 12 and 15 and $46.90 for kids between 9 and 11. There are special family, group and school rates also available. For more information or to make reservations, visit trca.on.ca
Treetop Trekking is a well known leader in Zip Line and Aerial Game Parks in Eastern Canada. The company operates three other parks in Barrie, Huntsville and the Ganaraska Forest.