Bird’s eye views

  • “Monitor” reporter Leah Willingham rappels from a tree platform at Bretton Woods Resort’s zipline course. LINDSAY EGGLESTON / For the Monitor

  • The instructor gives John a push to start his zipline trip over the foliage at Bretton Woods Resort in Carroll. LINDSAY EGGLESTON / For the Monitor

  • Linsay and I stand at the top of the mountain before a day of ziplining.  LINDSAY EGGLESTON

  • Me, rappeling down the mountain.  LINDSAY EGGLESTEN

  • “Monitor” reporter, Leah Willingham, ziplines over the fall foliage at Bretton Woods Resort in Carroll. LINDSAY EGGLESTON / For the Monitor

Monitor staff
Monday, October 16, 2017

Everyone has had the flying dream. You know, the one where you’re gliding over mountains and trees like a plane or a bird, free from all the anxieties in the world.

I got to live that dream last Sunday.

Ziplining was something I’d always wanted to try, but never gathered up the courage to actually do. My childhood friend, Lindsay, on the other hand, had been and was urging me to take a trip with her.

Lindsay is the kind of friend who is always coaxing me into things that scare me – like getting my ears pierced at age 12, riding the big rollercoasters at Six Flags and snorkeling (I have a deep-seated fear of fish).

She’s usually right about these things, though, so I decided to trust her on ziplining, too. We planned to go to Bretton Woods Resort in Carroll, one of the largest ziplining facilities in the state.

Although I was a bit nervous, driving up north was worth it just to see the foliage. The bright yellows, reds and oranges were magnificent – even for us, people who have lived in New Hampshire our whole lives.

The view from the chairlift at the resort was even better. From there, we could see the White Mountains laid out before us, and the historic Mount Washington Hotel.

Decked in bright red helmets, harnesses and safety gloves, we sat on the lift with a couple, John and Susan, who were on a trip to visit all 50 states after their daughter died of leukemia last year.

“We get color in Wisconsin, but this is like, take your breath away beautiful,” Susan said.

Once we got up to the top, we started learning the ropes. On a practice line about 10 feet off the ground, we learned proper positioning and how to break.

Then, over three hours, we began working our way the 1,000 feet down the mountain through nine ziplines, two sky bridges and three rappels.

How it works is you make your way from tree platform to tree platform, ranging from 10 to 70 feet in the air, to which the lines, bridges and rappels are attached.

You start on lines that are mostly enclosed in trees, then work your way up to ones that pull you over the trees and are more exposed. These are a bit more nerve-wracking because you can actually feel how high up you are. The highest ziplines at Bretton Woods are 165 feet off the forest floor.

But after a few “zips,” as they’re called, the height stops being scary. This was primarily because of the heavy duty harness each of us wore, creating an illusion of safety, but also because it was just so fun.

Patrick, our guide, was the perfect balance of sassy and informative. He’s originally from Hopkinton, but says he doesn’t remember the last time he’s traveled south of Plymouth.

“I really like it here,” he said. “There’s so much to do if you like being outside. From skiing, ziplining, hiking, mountain biking and ice climbing – it’s all right here.”

Ziplining at Bretton Woods is open year-round. Patrick said his favorite time to go is actually in the winter months.

Patrick began working in the ski area in 2004, and he’s been working the zipline canopy tours since they opened in 2008. He’s done thousands of tours, but said the experience is still fun for him.

“It sure beats hanging out in an office,” he said.

Patrick said the best part of the job for him is seeing participants of different ages and abilities evolve over the course of a trip.

“You start out with people who are nervous, then all of a sudden, we work with you a bit, and, you’re good,” he said. “It’s fun to see that progression.”

If you go:

Bretton Woods Resort, Carroll, brettonwoods.com

Other ziplines in the state:

Gunstock Mountain Resort, Gilford, gunstock.com

Alpine Adventures, Lincoln, alpinezipline.com

Attitash Mountain Resort, Bartlett, attitash.com

Loon Mountain, Lincoln, loonmtn.com

Wildcat Mountain, Gorham, skiwildcat.com

Mount Sunapee, Newbury, mountsunapee.com

Morningside, Charlestown, flymorningside.kittyhawk.com

Monkey Trunks, Chocorua and Weirs Beach, monkeytrunks.com