Sonoma Canopy Tours run zip lines through the tree tops in a California coastal redwood forest just outside of Bodega, with highly competent and fun young guides including Mark, Garrett and Blake from Colorado, Wisconsin and Montana. It’s a fun challenge and 2 ½ hours of reality. It’s family friendly and green (sorry), soaring over 800 feet with panoramic views of the forest. Sonoma Canopy Tours works with the Christian Alliance which operates a camping retreat on site. Here’s one of many videos shot with the Cindy Cam. Here is video of the spiral staircase zip, pictured above. Repelling as if in ‘Mission Impossible’. Cannonball zip. Suspension bridges and Walter the taller. The Cindy Cam.
Garrett appeared to lead the trio of lean, college age, bearded guides on Wednesday afternoon, which did a great job of leadership with their engaging, upbeat and calm demeanors. Meanwhile the college-age guides live on site. The gentlemen noted one guide this summer is a young woman who came from New Zealand and returns home soon after her eight weeks. Another petite young woman who worked as a guide zipped up to join the group for a moment. The tour also contributes proceeds to at-risk youth to have the adventure.
Driving to Occidental through Bodega and the film locations
It’s fun just getting to the site in Occidental, a old fashioned, picturesque mountain town. The drive from San Francisco or the Bay Area will go through the oyster town of Marshall in Point Reyes, with it’s population of fifty on the estuary of Tomales Bay. The trip goes through Bodega Bay and the town of Bodega where drivers see the film sites from Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”. The school and the white country church look pristine and there’s an historic cemetery just outside of town. Actress Tippi Hedren appeared in Bodega Bay last week for a few nights.
Cruising in a green car, a zippy Mini Cooper Convertible from City Car Share
Cruising the coast on the return trip through Marshall includes a stop at the rustic restaurant and cottages of Nick’s Cove, with it’s dock and dock house. Paddlers in canoes can be seen going onto the estuary even at night when a certain fish is said to glow. Drivers may stop at Point Reyes Station, Inverness or Muir Beach. If one needs to find a ride, City Car Share rents out fun green cars including zippy Mini Cooper Convertibles. A tank of gas, which City Car Share pays for along with heavy insurance, costs only about $60. It’s a Bay Area non-profit.
The experience proves to be a confidence builder and a team builder so one will look at one’s partner a little differently afterward. Many participants seemed to be in their twenties but a 55 year old woman with titanium in her leg seemed thrilled she did it at her age. A 56 year old woman and her 57 year old boyfriend joined her in her feeling of accomplishment. The couple recorded each other using one helmet camera which rents from the tour for $30. The 40 minutes of video proved to capture the memorable flights and cocktail party chatter so the couple will re-live the thrill of the experience, a 2 ½ hours which goes by quickly.
One at any age benefits from the energy and love of the outdoors, the casual ease while flying through the trees. Mark Reid, 57, marveled at the sense of childlike adventure, recalling building a tree fort in his childhood. Albeit the lumber came from a nearby lumber yard and his parents made him dismantle the fort and return the stolen wood. Nevertheless, it’s a wonderful feeling of peace and exhilaration in the tree tops, rather than an adrenalin rush or a fear factor such as say, parachuting. One’s heart does beat a bit faster in the beginning especially when stepping up on the wooden block on the edge of the platform. This happens at each tree while the guides snap the zipper to the line along with the two canvas safety straps. The guides teeter on the edge in a carefree way but one guide said a boy did go over the side right after he warned the boy that would happen. The boy got tethered tighter to the tree trunk after that. His mother got on his case. After.
Cannonballs, spiral staircases, suspension bridges and the tallest tree, Walter
The actual take off when done right is a breeze as all the zip liner does is sit back in the harness, rather than having to jump as if on a bungee. The runs last maybe 20 seconds give or take and feel quick with no time to be apprehensive. The zip liner focuses on the guide at the other side who will signal to slow down upon approach. Zip liners who finish the two bunny slopes and prepare for the first longer section get directions on how to keep up speed. Cannonballers who lay back maintain better speed and should make it to the next platform without having to pull themselves.
Each participant zips about 50 or 60 feet in the air from platform to platform, one with a wooden spiral staircase. No experience necessary except the tour offers a more advanced challenge for which the tour recommends taking the regular zip line first. The regular zip line has he group crossing two suspension bridges near the end. The guides maintain a comfortable pace while chatting about the forest Zip liners hear about the particular redwoods which have names—including the strapping Walter. Zip liners learn that Walter, the tallest, ends where he was struck by lightning. He’s 850 years old according to an arborist who tested Walter. The tree stands 190 feet tall but the tallest anywhere would be Hyperion, which stands 2 ½ Walters. Walter sports a very expensive burl. Two and ½ hours later and feeling more confident, relaxed and exhilarated, the group repels to the forest floor. Mission Possible.
Prices for tour, video camera, car sharing
The tour allows zip liners to bring their cameras which would hang around the zip liner’s neck. They warn if things fall to the ground, they are gone. The tours also run at night. A full moon is nice but more stars show on other nights. Garrett says about the tour conditions, ‘You bought it, you got it’, meaning the tour goes out as long as it’s not windy. Garrett said he had witnessed one wedding proposal.The classic zip line tour during the day costs $198 for two. The helmet camera, $30 for 40 minutes of video and two memory cards. Photos, $10 for the first one and $5 for additional ones. The tour operates a little gift shop on site with t-shirts, mugs, bandanas. For more information: Sonoma CanopyTours. City Car Share