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Gettin' zippy

Unlike walks outside or time spent in the garden, ziplining is not an activity that comes to mind as a “spring” one. The-seven stop, 5,000-foot canopy ziplining tour at Bristol Mountain, however, not only soldiers on through both the cold and mild months but offers special seasonal discounts to those interested in taking the plunge. Being the least athletic person in the (585) office, I was naturally the one sent to check out the scenic, albeit chilly, tour. Accompanied by a group of two tour guides and nine friendly women who fretted over the warmth of my hands, I took the tour on a twenty-degree Sunday morning in early February.

The trails were busy with skiers and snowboarders, and the benches on the lift were all full of patrons. The lot of us convened in a lodge-like gathering place atop the hill where we met the tour guides, Kat and Adam. Both young and evidently humored by my presence in an otherwise close-knit group of women about my mother’s age, they were cheery and welcoming in helping us to suit up.

Each of us sported a metal “trolley” attached to our harnesses, helmets, ski glasses, and varying levels of warm dress. The first part of the journey required a short hike down the side of the mountain and through some woods. We came to the first “take off” spot after roughly ten minutes of light walking on woody trails. This launching spot has roughly the same description as all the others: a raised wooden platform of varying heights, the respective zipline cable attached and running away toward the next stop on the tour, and, in my case, a step stool to allow for enough height to reach said cables in the first place.

One might not expect the wooded scenery of Upstate New York to be all that striking when blanketed with snow in the dead of winter. However, the views from on top of each lofted launch point—and certainly dangling from the lines themselves—were just as striking as one might expect from a warmer season. Each zip on the tour is arranged to offer a clear view from the mountain as you wait your turn to be hooked up and “zip away.” The combination of fresh snow, evergreens, and late morning/early afternoon sun surprised my newfound group of friends and me with its pleasantness, in spite of the cold. 

Kate Melton

When we were not fawning over the view, the pictures we were able to take of it or, in my group’s case, the young male tour guide, we were doing what we were there to do: tour the woods of Bristol Mountain from an aerial view. The process was both relatively simple but also consistently entertaining. Each zipliner was attached to the line by her harness, taught how to slow down and speed up, encouraged not to be afraid by the both very tolerant and very enthusiastic staff, and then sent along her way. The zips varied both in height and speed, some moving downhill, some up, some relatively close to the ground and some rather far away from it. Each time, however, the respective zipper would enjoy her quick trip, hopefully remembering to look around and below them as she went, and would arrive safely on the other side to be unhooked from the line and wait to watch her peers take their turns. Each new line and location was different enough to keep the tour varied and fun, and even though tired and grateful for the ski lift ride back up the hill by the end, it is evident that the novelty of the winter tour is certainly a captivating experience more than anything else. The staff at the mountain say that the winter zip tours have been gaining in popularity and expect to continue to do so as the season moves on. A combination of exercise, nature, adrenaline, and group bonding make Bristol Mountain’s ziplining tours, held year-round, well worth the hike. 

Mary Walrath is a (585) editorial intern. 

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