My husband and I went on a tree top adventure at Go Ape in Eagle Creek Park on the north side of Indianapolis, IN. Go Ape has parks in Maryland, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Delaware, Virginia, Indiana, and Missouri and a couple even have a Tree Top adventure for kids! My adventure was a bit more dramatic since I am afraid of heights…but I went anyway and had a lot of fun!
We went to the Eagle Creek Park Go Ape course because we are lucky enough to live just 20 minutes south of it in Indianapolis, IN. Having been to Eagle Creek Park a few times we were confident we knew where we were going…but luckily Go Ape had signs to tell us how to get to their part of the park when we realized we didn’t. They are across from a nature building that has restrooms you can use…unless it’s Sunday and before 1:00 pm, then you have to use an outhouse. Of course we signed up for 11:00 am…I hate outhouses.
Their check in building is tiny but then again it doesn’t need to be huge. You go in, give your name and they hand you a clip board with the necessary waivers to fill out. You can also borrow a small shoulder bag for cameras if you didn’t know what to bring and needed one…which may have happened to us.
If you are early (which I advise to sign waivers and go to the bathroom if need be) they will let you know where to wait and how long until you can get going.
A trained employee, who seems to be completely at home in the trees, will take you to an initial training area and explain all the rules and safety precautions. Also that important bit about how to use the carabiners, trac pulleys and other safety equipment. They are very thorough too. In fact you cannot go on to the main course without the 30 minute safety training course.
Our trainer gave us harnesses and made all the adjustments so they were tight enough then showed us how to use everything properly. I paid very close attention because I was very nervous about going up in the trees due to my fear of heights that I thought I could conquer or at least push through. He even mentioned that if you got scared they could get a ladder up to where you were in order to get you down. Each Course ends with a zip line and you can take your time getting to the next Course. In case you need to take a break, drink some water (provided at each Course) or run to the bathroom.
After explaining how to use everything he needed to make sure you actually used everything correctly. See? Safe! The training area had a post with the ropes to hook on to and then one leading to another post to use your carabiners and trac pulleys correctly. The first rule, and most important rule, is to “Always Stay Attached”. He made sure we remembered that one. Once you hook on and head up you should always be connected. Always.
After the initial walk and use everything correctly you are taken to Course 1. Which is very low to the ground but has a short rope ladder (I could have stepped up instead but the point was to use the Green carabiner), rope to walk across and you finish with a Zip Line. This is in order to make sure you are comfortable using the equipment and the trainer is comfortable that you know how to use it as well. I wasn’t scared on this one and the zip line was fun.
He had a volunteer go first to show everyone and made sure we all clapped for the brave soul…for getting up in front of people I think. One other important thing the trainer covers is checking to see who has minors with them, going over restrictions for them and making sure to organize people based on group size. Kids 10+ are allowed to go on the adventure but they have to be accompanied by an adult and the adult responsible has to be in front of or behind that young person at all times. If they have two they have to be between them for safety.
Once you are comfortable, organized (we were in the end due to wanting to get pictures and video footage along the way) and ready to go and the trainer is comfortable letting you go you get to head to Course 2 which IS up high in the trees…and a bit more scary. I mean fun…yeah fun. I mean it was fun and terrifying for me anyway but my husband had a blast!
I was nervous going up the first ladder. I thought since I had gone up in an air balloon about 300 ft in the air a few times I would be ok since the highest part of the park was only 41 ft in the air. At first I was…sort of. I decided I should go before the Mad Hatter because if I went last i might chicken out and NOT go…if he was behind me he could push if needed…so to speak.
The first actual course (Course 2) isn’t too bad and has a short Tarzan swing into a cargo net type wall, which you climb up and over to move on. I was scared but with MH behind me and the trainer on the ground reminding me I had all that harness equipment on and that I should “sit” to feel secure I swung. That actually helped, the sitting part. You feel more secure knowing you aren’t going anywhere and the reality is I was scared of the falling feeling.
After that it was a few rope type bridges and then the dreaded zip line. I had never done a zip line…even as a kid when I wasn’t afraid of heights at all. Again, I was nervous…well scared really but I pushed through and went for a ride…and landed on my butt. Yeah, turns out sometimes (and they did warn you) you get turned around and you have to dig your heals in but you still end up on your butt, and back.
The 3rd Course almost got me. I hit that moment before one of the obstacles where I felt like I couldn’t do it. I was nervous going up the rope ladder and through each obstacle I was getting more scared. I think I psyched myself out…but the people behind us were patient and kind and MH was encouraging me the whole time and eventually I did the sit and pull yourself along trick. Which again helped.
The easiest ones were the solid ones that barely moved…I liked those. There was this rope bridge that literally was a folded rope net and when you stepped in it it sagged down a bit. A simple ladder bridge and a single rope (when I say rope I mean the non-rope kind used in rock climbing and such) to walk across like a tight rope.
There were harder ones of course and ones that weren’t so stable. One that I made it across was a rope ladder but with a twist. No literally it tilted to one side as you walked and another one in a later Course actually twisted as it went! As I was making my way across the rope ladder the wind was blowing which I didn’t like…it make my rope sink a bit as the trees got closer. Not the most fun part ever. All this in just those first two Courses!
Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to see if I would be brave enough to do the other 2 Courses because on the zip line to the 3rd Course I pulled my calf muscle really bad. I could barely stand at first it was so bad. I landed wrong and dug my heels in but apparently too hard and it caught my muscle just right…errr wrong. It was painful and I was concerned I would hurt it further if I continued but I tried walking on it a bit anyway.
As I was hobbling to Course 4 an employee (our trainer actually) was patrolling and saw me. He asked what happened and radioed in for an ice pack which came quickly. Two employees asked how I was, if I wanted to continue or stop, if the ice was helping and how it happened.
Seriously I was in very good hands there. I did decide not to continue in the trees so I wouldn’t risk pulling it further up there so they took my harness and I hobbled along on the ground while MH continued up above.
There are trails to walk along below so people like me or those who just want to watch can follow along easily on the ground. The park is beautiful and we had pretty good weather. The sun was out and although it was windy I didn’t feel too hot or too cold at any point. Just nervous, terrified and having fun all at the same time sometimes. MH had a blast finishing the remaining two Courses and as I hobbled along I really wished I could have gone back up.
Here is a gallery of our Treetop Adventure.
Yes…I was still afraid of heights but I didn’t like the option taken away from me by an injury. I may or may not have some control issues…thankfully if I did (I admit nothing) it just pertains to me and things I do and doesn’t affect others…much. Anyway, it looked terrifying and fun all at the same time. There was a tunnel to crawl through, many more rope bridges, ladder bridges, a bigger tarzan swing, a rope net to crawl across and even rings to cross on!
Of course there were the zip lines. Each Course ended with one and it seems longer than the last…it might have been actually. The final one took you right to next to the check in building which is nice because that is where you turn in your harness and get a certificate saying you completed. Kind of cool and as a bonus if you go again you get a free gift!
The staff was very friendly and helpful and there always seemed to be someone nearby no matter where you were. In fact they were amazingly helpful when I hurt myself. I ran into several people who saw I was hurt and checked on me along the way. I enjoyed the walk and chatting with my husband while he was enjoying being a monkey.
Go Ape is the perfect adventure for anyone who loves being outdoors, or climbing, or going on adventures or if you just like having fun and trying new things. If you are afraid of heights this is actually a good way to help push through that and is safe and secure. Despite my injury and fear of heights I still had fun and will be going back again as soon as I can!