Rocky Mountain Fly

Zip-Lining on the Broadmoor Soaring Adventure.

The babbling sounds of a mountain creek crept up the granite canyon walls in South Cheyenne Cañon, and I shared the afternoon breeze with a red-tailed hawk.

We flew in warm autumn sunlight, the hawk and I, he on magnificent feathered wings, and I securely harnessed to a zip line cable tethered 150 feet above the earth.

I had come to race across the sky with the crew from Broadmoor Soaring Adventure, whose guides assisted our group of thrill-seekers through the Woods Course: five zip lines among the granite spires above Seven Falls.

Flight Check

2 courses: the Woods Course and the Fins Course

10: total zip lines

90 pounds: minimum weight of a zipper

250 pounds: maximum weight of a zipper

300 feet: the shortest zip-line span

1,800 feet: the longest span

1858: as in Restaurant 1858 at the base of Seven Falls for a post-soaring dining or drinks by reservation

Broadmoor Soaring Adventure is open year-round, but weather-dependent winter hours take effect in December.

“The main thing is to relax and have fun,” said Matt Edmonds, a calm and confident guide who patiently coaxed us, like fledglings, to take wing.

The day began at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs as we boarded a van and drove west around the northern flank of Cheyenne Mountain. We quickly gained altitude, and the city spread out to the east before the view gave way to slopes of blue spruce and rocky horizons.

Enthusiastic visitors from Pittsburgh blurted expletives of wonder. And that was before we even arrived at zip line base camp, deep in the woods.

Guide Jeremy Mueller had our gear laid out and ready to go. We harnessed up like Army paratroopers. What we lacked in experience, we remedied with gung-ho attitudes. We practiced our braking skills—you wear gloves and use your hands to slow your momentum—then learned some simple techniques. And off we marched to the first zip line.

Edmonds hooked me in and pushed me off the platform. I sat securely in the harness, which attached to a pulley, which attached to the TK-foot long cable and made a soothing, whistling sound as I gained speed.

The first three zip lines were fun rambles through the trees. The fourth and fifth servings were white-knuckle blasts across the canyon that elicited laughter from all and unbridled shouts of joy from the Pittsburgh residents.

I looked up, and the hawk was there. I looked down to the green-blue riffles of South Cheyenne Creek. And for a few seconds I left my earthbound self and flew in the wind.

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by Tim Bergsten