Sunday, January 13, 2013

"Zipping" around Boyne Mountain when snow becomes iffy

    A lack of snow at Boyne Mountain last week didn't keep some folks indoors.  Some went horseback riding, while others hit the trails either snowshoing or Nordic walking.
   Nordic or race walking is simply walking with ski poles. Sounds weird to be using poles without skis, but it's been around for sometime and in countries like Germany, is a way of life.
   Poles give walkers more of a workout because the arms become engaged more to move the poles. Besides being a good addition to walking, using poles is great for older walkers who may have balance problems or others recovering from injuries.
   Nordic walking actually came about when Nordic or downhill skiers became injured and couldn't ski while recovering.
   To maintain conditioning, athletes determined that walking with poles helped to  maintain aerobic endurance thereby making an eventual return to actually skiing a much easier transition.
   But if none of those activities do much for you, make a reservation to view the ski slopes from a zip line.
   Boyne Mountain, near Gaylord, has ten zip lines, nine of which are in operation over the winter. So what is a zip line?
   It's a cable stretched between two trees. The cable is high above the ground or ski slope and often runs through a wooded area.
   Persons using a zip line do so under the individual supervision of a guide. The guide makes sure your harness is worn properly, is adjusted to fit you, and when in comes time, sees that you are connected to the cable in a proper and safe way.
   Two different heavy duty cords-one with a pulley and the other with a clip-attach to the front of your harness. The guide hooks the pulley on the cable then follows up with the second or back-up line that clips over the pulley.
   You, the rider is standing on a platform waiting to be told it's OK to go. You'll step off the platform dropping down a few feet until the cable takes hold, your pulley kicks in and you are off for the ride of your life.
   At the other end are two more members of the guide team. One slows and eventually brings you to a stop by operating a brake. The other guide makes sure you are standing before unclipping you from the cable.
   About the second line we were hooking up to, or guide explained how to ride upside down. Later, he showed us ow to do a somersault.
  There's no pressure. You leave platforms when you are ready. Ride the lines in the harness or try some of the tricks you see others do.
   So, never fear if snow conditions become desperate. If you are visiting Boyne Mountain near Gaylord or Boyne Highlands near Petoskey, head for the zip lines. It's a different view of the slopes and a guarantee of an exciting ride.

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