Written by Jennifer Furber. Published on June 22, 2018.
I was looking for a different experience one afternoon with my daughter on San Juan Island. I don’t particularly love heights or adrenale-based sports. Stories of zipping atop the island’s tall trees caught my interest, but I was really nervous. Zip San Juan’s 8 ziplines and suspension bridge located in the pristine center or San Juan, just 6 miles from town, seemed like the perfect adventure.
An Out-of-the-Box Adventure
We met the Zip Van 15-minutes before our scheduled departure at the north end of First Street in downtown Friday Harbor. Just two and a half blocks away from Harrison House Suites and Tucker House Inn. We signed our waivers and were off to the site, located 6 miles from town. Each tour requires reservations ahead of time, so don’t take your chances walking-up.
Once we got to the forest, we were given a full orientation on what to expect for the next few hours. Our harnesses were properly fit to us, and then they helped pick out helmets and gloves, as well. We learned the mechanics behind all the gear that was properly affixed to our harness. Once our small group was ready, we were led through two practice zips. I immediately felt comfortable. We learned what it felt like to sit in the harness, how to land correctly on the zip platforms and a few skills we could try out if we felt like getting tricky during our upcoming zips.
Each tour is led by two experienced zip guides. One leads the group safely, one at a time, to a send off. The other guide helps everyone slow down and receives us from our zip. We both really felt taken care of with our guides. At no point did we feel pressured or rushed. We could each take the time we needed to step off the platform and soar through the trees. Also if at any point we were uneasy with any of the 8 scheduled zips, we could have easily followed the hiking trail below to meet everyone at the platform. It was frequently mentioned they were here to assist us in anything we needed. They obviously had our best intentions at heart and wanted us to have an unforgettable experience.
The first two “practice” zips allowed us to get comfortable in our gear a mere 10-20 feet above ground. As we began to go deeper into the forest, the zips got longer and higher. Our travels also got faster. Some of the platforms were 70 feet above the ground.
I had previously thought of ziplining as an extreme sport. However, every millimeter of the gear and equipment is checked and rechecked regularly for good working order, which put my mind at ease.
Rain Outs? No Way!
Even in summertime, the Pacific Northwest weather is unpredictable. Zip San Juan operates rain or shine, with the exception to lightning and/or high winds, of course. We brought layers, but had to decide what to wear before our harness was strapped on. Our footwear of choice was sneakers, but the guides made sure everyone else at least had shoes with a heel-strap, such as Chacos or Tevas. We each carried a camera that had a fit easily in our small backpack or across our shoulder with a strap.
What a Day! Time to Relax
Stay at the Harrison House Suites and put your feet up after a day in the forest, zipping through tall trees. Be sure to choose one of our rooms with a private hot tub for maximum relaxation. The next morning, enjoy gourmet breakfast delivery and recharge for another day of adventuring. Check out Zip San Juan for more information on physical requirements and participant expectations.