Zip a ride on the wild side

Adventure awaits long before you even get close to Long Beach

Danielle Buchanan takes a long look over the edge of the cliff at the foaming white water far, far below. She turns to take one last look at her new husband and then turns her back — and jumps.

Although this is the first day of his life with her, Jeff Buchanan doesn’t flinch when his love leaps from the cliff. He knows she’s attached with a five-point harness to a heavy wire cable and within seconds is almost across the foaming gorge. When it’s his turn he is just as filled with excitement and derring-do as his new wife.

The Lower Mainland couple are on their honeymoon at the Ha’uukmin Tribal Park, which hosts West Coast Wild, a zipline adventure company located on Highway 4 about 40 minutes west of Port Alberni.

The site contains roughly a kilometre and a half with six  ziplines, which take the Buchanans and the other members of the group on a two-hour tour through the rainforest canopy and over the whitewater canyon of the Kennedy River. The lines vary in length from a few hundred to a whopping 1,000 feet, giving adventure fans the ride of a lifetime in complete safety.

Ensuring that safety on this day are guides Riley Scherbers and C.J. Munro, one of whom zips across to catch the clients with a special braking device prior to their arrival on the other side, while his partner checks each harness prior to the big jump.

They have fun with it, too. Scherbers has one adventurer stand with her back to the drop and spread her arms over her head.

“On 10,” he said. “One … two … Go!”

At that, he gives her a gentle push and, with a surprised and delighted screech, she’s off.

The focus of the site is on fun, but the guides point out natural features such as the edible wild blueberries and huckleberries beside the path as the group takes a short hike through the old growth forest between the lines.

This is the second year the West Coast Wild operation has been in business and even though it is located far from any amenities or other attractions, it is drawing an increasing clientele of thrill-seekers as word filters out on websites such as Tripadvisor and others.

The adventure is for those aged 10 years or older, although the primary consideration is weight — the zippers need to have enough body mass to propell themselves all the way across the line, thus avoiding the necessity for the guides to zip out to the rescue and haul them to the other side.

The final zip of the day takes us underneath a bridge over the river and back to the rough-and-ready tour centre. The newlyweds are not just smiling, they’re glowing. They took the jump in more ways than one. It’s a good start.

For more information about ziplining adventures or to book, visit www.wcwild.com.