As I lunge into thin air on Blue Mountain’s new Timber Challenge high ropes course, I can’t help but wish I was back on my Segway.
A few hours earlier, I took a 90-minute Mountaintop Segway Tour, another of the Collingwood resort’s new summer diversions. Since June of 2012, a small fleet of the two-wheeled, self-balancing oddities — fitted with knobby tires for off-road rides — has been whisking visitors along gravel paths and forest trails atop the Niagara Escarpment.
These quirky excursions, along with an 18-hole mini-putt course carved into Blue’s ski slopes and the child-friendly Woodlot low ropes course, represent the biggest expansion in summer activities at the resort since the Monterra golf course opened in 1989.
By Hole 7 of the Cascade Putting Course, my two year old daughter finally learns not to run ahead on every hole, pick up all the golf balls, and deposit them in the various water hazards. For the remaining holes she agrees to tee off with our family foursome, but swings her putter with such abandon that it makes contact not once, not twice, but thrice, with my groin.
The Segway tour is much less stressful. Apart from some good-natured ribbing by passing mountain bikers — “Dude, you lost your pedals!” — it is a serene, near-effortless experience punctuated by the occasional need to steer around a tree root or wedding photo shoot.
“It’s something most people have never tried before, and just about anyone can do,” says Blake Beauchamp, my enthusiastic 20-year-old guide who, after just a few weeks on the job, has honed his Segway skills to the point where he can navigate the entire 7-kilometre route “with no hands.”
The high ropes, however, require the full use of my extremities. After another twenty-something shows me how to buckle my safety harness and use a pair of carabiner-style clips to stay secured to safety cables, I set out on the confidence-boosting wooden catwalks of a beginner course, one of seven increasingly difficult routes, graded green, blue and black, that serve up more than 75 aerial obstacles.
To move up to the blue level, I must complete at least one green track, which, once I get into the Zen-like rhythm of clipping and unclipping, is a fun yet easily surmountable challenge. I consider trying another green course but, with my family freshly arrived to cheer me on, I whiz down the concluding zip line and head straight for Blue No. 1.
Read the rest of the story in the Toronto Star.