Go Ape with Junior
It’s like climbing in the trees, I told my son, Aiden. Are you excited? I asked him. He hesitated with his answer, and then finally said, My heart is excited, but my head is not. I understood the adventure pumping through his veins, but climbing between the trees and zip lining just didn’t seem logical to a boy that had never experienced the Go Ape Adventure.
I received two complimentary passes to Go Ape Junior Course for review purposes. See Disclosure/Disclaimer for details.
I left the house early thinking it would take longer to get there, but it was really a quick trip up I-540 to Six Forks Road and about 5 miles to the park. Go Ape is located inside Blue Jay Point County Park. Check-in is located in a small wood cabin. Bathrooms are located across the street and field (about a 3 minute walk); it’s a good idea to go before you start the course.
The Jr Course is situated right behind the cabin and down a slight hill in the woods. It’s an amazing view when you look up at the leafy canopy and see the sun glimmering through the trees. You will also see the course of wooden planks, ropes and netting connecting to a central platform with a long cable to the ground (the zip line!). It can be intimidating at first, but our guide, Jesse did a wonderful job of calming our nerves and giving us the confidence to complete the course. The first step is putting on your harness gear. The course is designed for kids at least 3 feet, 3 inches tall. Adults can use the Jr course too, but the maximum weight is 285 pounds. The cable that runs above your head is made for kid-use, so you might have to do some bending down, but it’s not a big deal. I would advise adults to wear weight lifting gloves; my fingers got serious rope burn.
Once your harness gear is on and properly adjusted, your guide will go over safety measures and tips. Jesse told us about the trolley connected to our harness. Only an instructor can connect your trolley to the course cable and don’t wrap your arm around the rope. At the bottom of the course there is a practice tree with an elevated plank to cross. It’s only about 3 feet off the ground. I let Aiden go first. He was a little nervous, but he pushed his anxiety aside and crossed the planks with no problem. The scary part is thinking you are going to fall, but if you do fall, your harness is connected to the cable which keeps you from actually falling.
We passed the practice zone and ready to start the first course. On our way to Loop 1, we stopped for water. It was a hot day, the trees kept it cooler, but it was still humid. Jesse encouraged us to drink some water from the water bin before we started. Getting dehydrated is unsafe as well. The next time we stopped for water, we drank 2 cups and poured a third on our heads. Yes, it was that hot plus we worked up quite a sweat.
The first Loop consisted of wooden planks connected by steel cables and rope nets strung between the trees. At the end of the loop was the zip line. I hadn’t been on a zip line in awhile, so I was a little nervous. It’s an odd feeling when you walk off the platform. All the instructions about pointing your toes down and how to take your trolley off the cable vanish during that split second of gripping the rope to hold yourself up and then sitting in your harness. Then you realize that you are almost flying and you let go of the rope and enjoy the ride.
Loops 2 is a little trickier, and it’s considered the moderate course. Aiden learned quickly on the first obstacle that the planks were tethered by a swinging rope. He lost his balance and fell off the plank, but his harness caught him. He just dangled in the air and corrected his footing on the plank. Loop 2 is filled with moving obstacles, and it becomes a test of balance and stability. It’s a little bit more of a challenge compared to Loop 1, but it’s still plenty of fun. Aiden actually completed Loop 2 twice, and the second time with zero falls.
Are you ready to Go Ape? Here are a few additional tips to ensure an amazing adventure:
- Wear closed toe shoes – I wore my running shoes.
- Wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty- The zip line runs into a pile of munch and a couple of times I landed on my bum.
- Wear weight lifting gloves if you have a pair. They sell gloves at the cabin too.
- The Jr Course costs $28 per person and takes 1 to 1.5 hours to complete.
- Sign up for the Go Ape Newsletter and Follow their Facebook page for discount codes.
Are you ready to experience a Go Ape adventure?