No need to go to the jungle or Vegas to get a zipline fix.
Just make a beeline to the mall and squeeze it into your next shopping trip.
Zipline Junky recently set up at the edge of the parking lot behind Everett Mall, a stone’s throw from a housing complex and over a drainage pond.
What’s up with that?
It’s the creation of Ken Elgin, 47, owner of the Kirkland-based company that designs and erects ziplines.
He opened the Everett zipline in November for wintertime recreation and plans to keep it there at least until summer.
The zipline is 42 feet high and 470 feet long.
For $10, you can soar over the ducks in the pond and land near the entrance of T.J. Maxx.
Sign a waiver, harness up, climb the stairs of the steel tower and have a quick thrill. Or two.
“It’s like potato chips. Once you do this once you’ve got to do it again,” Elgin said.
Those who weigh at least 40 pounds and no more than 250 pounds can take a zip.
“We’ve had ages 3 to 80. As long as someone can get up the stairs with our assistance,” Elgin said.
“Fathers-sons, that’s a big thing to do. A lot of bucket list people. Couples come over here after date night at the movies. We’ve had couples who emailed us saying, ‘This was our first date and now we’re in a relationship.’”
Two people can go at the same time on separate wires. There are three trolley speed settings.
The average rate is 25 to 27 miles an hour, Elgin said. “You pick up maximum velocity about halfway through the pond. You’re flying, then you start to slow down.”
He said many zip riders are first-timers.
“I’ve had people chicken out,” Elgin said. “I used to do rock climbing instruction so I learned some techniques. I can get 80 to 90 percent to do it. There’s always that 10 percent.”
It’s not who you might think.
Elgin told me about the guy who had a tattoo that said “Adventure” on his hand. Took him three different times before he got the nerve to step off the platform.
The platform is higher than it looks from the ground. Climbing the steep stairs made me squirm. I stood at the top, stared out at the skinny cable wires traversing the vast horizon and thought, “What crazy fool would do this?”
I cowardly crept back down the stairs, despite Elgin’s pep talk.
Back at the newsroom, my colleagues scolded me for being such a wuss. Maybe so, but I couldn’t get anybody to step up to the plate in my place by deadline.
So I went across the hall and recruited a Frontier Communications worker, Jim Corwin. He brought his two sons: Brayden, 14, who wasn’t so sure he wanted to do it, and Branson, 20, who isn’t fond of heights. Corwin wasn’t exactly keen on trying it.
I wasn’t sure this story would ever get off the ground.
Elgin suited us up in full harnesses that secured our legs and arms between straps. There was no wimping out now.
On the platform, we were hooked into bright yellow lanyards dangling from the cable trolley. We bounced to test the tension of the straps. It was like being tethered in one of those doorway jumper things for babies; now I see why they chortle with delight.
Elgin zipped across the line to the other end while his assistant manned the starting gate waiting for his OK signal. It’s not like an automated fair ride. It’s very hands-on.
By then, Corwin’s sons were fired up. They bravely went first, arms outstretched as they glided into the sunset, their happy antics reflected in the water below.
Less than a minute later, they were on the ground.
Corwin looked relieved.
Then it was our turn.
I looked down at the concrete 42 feet below, held my breath and forced myself to step off the platform, fully expecting to plunge to my death.
Instead the trolley pulled me forward, smoothly and gracefully, across the horizon and over the pond.
It was an absolute blast.
Elgin was spot-on about that potato chip comparison. Once wasn’t enough.
We did it twice.
I can’t wait to go again.
— Andrea Brown (@reporterbrown) January 12, 2016