From fledgling to falcon—in three hours

I glanced down at my hands, horrified—but not surprised—to see them trembling in fear.

“You’re good to go,” said JD, one of two ziplining guides for our Lake Travis Ziplining Adventures group tour. He’d just finished securing me to the line. “Step off whenever you’re ready.”

In that moment, I was a fledgling, learning to fly. Taking a deep breath, I walked off the block and surrendered to trust.

The next few seconds were a blur of trees, nervousness, and excited energy, as I careened through the Texas Hill Country, landing swiftly on the ziplining block 300 feet across the way.

“How was it?” asked Parker, the second tour guide, as he disconnected my gear from the steel cable.

Adrenaline coursed through my body as I responded: “Exhilarating!”

I’ve never been an adrenaline junkie—admittedly, it’s been at least 15 years since my last rollercoaster ride—but you don’t have to be hooked on adrenaline rushes to enjoy ziplining. The scenic lakeside views alone are worth the experience.

Sure, our group included some thrill-seekers—one younger couple was certified in ziplining, spelunking, and cave diving—but also among our group of 12 were kids, married couples, and grandparents, all wanting to experience the freedom of flight.

Like any bird trying out her wings, with each flight my fear lessened; I become increasingly aware of the gorgeous greenery and Lake Travis backdrop. By the second line, I was flailing my legs as if I were running through air; the third zipline, which spanned 1,800 feet, had me releasing one arm from the line and then the other. By the fifth and final zipline—this one running 2,800 feet and reaching up to 20 stories high—I’d built up the courage to release both hands from the zipline and hold them out to my sides, imitating Kate Winslet’s character Rose from the movie Titanic.

The entire tour lasted about three hours, with opportunities in between zips to calm down from the adrenaline while we hiked uphill to our next line. Throughout the tour, our guides laughed, joked, offered us copious amounts of water, and put us all at ease.

The bird-like experience is one I’ll never forget, but perhaps next time I’ll try their guided moonlight tour—then I’ll finally learn what it feels like to be a bat taking a night flight in the gorgeous Texas Hill Country.

Rachel’s Challenge

This month, take the advice that Mary Schmich, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune, gave to college grads in 1997 to “do one thing every day that scares you.”

For more information on the Texas Zipline Adventures, visit

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