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High in the trees at Lafleche Adventure Park

Things to Do — By lpaquet on July 29, 2010 at 3:01 pm
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Walking on a wire stretched high between two trees was not the best time to discover I’m afraid of tightropes. But trussed up in a harness and hanging from another wire by two carabiners and a pair of super-strength bungee cords, I had two choices: keep moving across the tightrope, or clamber down the tree in shame.

As usual, my mortal fear of embarrassment trumped every other phobia. I kept moving.

I found myself in this predicament because I’d signed up for the 3.5-hour Adventure Aerial Park tour at Laflèche Adventure Park in Val-des-Monts, Quebec, about a 35-minute drive from downtown Ottawa. It’s a beautiful, wooded site, high in the Gatineau Hills.

For some reason (psychological self-protection, perhaps?), I didn’t read the information on the Laflèche website as closely as I could have. I knew there were Ziplines involved, and I was fine with that. I’d tackled that fear before, a few years ago in Whistler, B.C. But, somehow, I missed the very clearly stated information that I would need to navigate 36 suspended “obstacles” (rope bridges, tightropes, vertical nets) to reach the 14 Ziplines.

"Lafleche Adventure Park"

Ziplining high above the trees at Laflèche Adventure Park. Photo courtesy of Tourisme Outaouais.

Hence my position on a tightrope that, by my rough estimate, was about 6m (20 feet) above the forest floor.

On the bright side, I’ve finally found a practical use for yoga. Pretending I was simply carrying out some extreme version of tree pose, I put one foot in front of the other, steadied my breath and focused on the tree ahead. Eventually, I made it to the end of the tightrope, heart pounding.

That was only the baby tightrope. Other more challenging obstacles followed, including a vertical net overlooking a lake. I hadn’t quite realized I’d be in a boot camp scene from Top Gun. The saving grace was that I wasn’t being hounded by some middle-aged sadist in fatigues and a buzz cut. Instead, our guide was a cheery young woman in braids nicknamed Hibou, the French word for “owl.” (All of the insanely healthy-looking guides at Laflèche are nicknamed for woodland creatures.)

By the end of the course, I had largely conquered my fear. I managed to stop in the middle of a subsequent tightrope and enjoy the view of the lake. And the Ziplines were a total blast But I don’t think I’ll be joining Cirque du Soleil anytime soon.

Tags: "Aventure Lafleche", "gatineau hills", "gatineau park", "Lafleche Adventure", "zip-line", ottawa, zipline

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