Alexis Welvaert,12, of White Salmon takes on one of the elements at Skamania Lodge’s new aerial park, which opened earlier this month. The aerial park is open to the public.
Photo by Ken Park.
Whether it is on the river, in the mountains, or on the various trails, there is plenty to do in the Columbia Gorge year round. In this case, the activities...are in the trees.
Earlier this month, Skamania Lodge Adventures in Stevenson opened its brand-new aerial park to guests of the lodge, as well as the public. Participants over 8 years old and able to reach up to 6 feet may access the park alone. Children ages 6-8 are welcome but must be accompanied by one adult per child. There is no minimum weight limit though it is recommended that children be at least 60 pounds; the maximum weight limit is 275 pounds.
“We installed the zip line tour in 2013 and that has done really well, so we started planning this park in 2014 and it took a while but eventually we got approval to get it built by, Synergo out of Tigard, Oregon, and have our guides trained on it, and it’s been a really fun amenity to add to the resort,” said Shayne Large, who oversees both the aerial park and the zip line.
What makes the aerial park different from a typical ropes course is that, while you are in a harness you are not being belayed or led by someone on the ground. It’s all up to you and the “Click-Its.”
Click-Its are a state-of-the-art fall-protection system that only allows one of the two mechanical carabiners on your lanyards to be open at any time. This eliminates the risk of a guest ever unhooking themselves from the overhead belay line at any time during their experience.
“Once you get the hang of the Click-Its the rest is up to you and what elements you want to test yourself on,” said Kaitlyn Seitz, one of the many certified aerial park monitors at the lodge.
“Of course, we can always demonstrate and give tips on the best way to do some of the elements, which has really helped some people become comfortable on the course in the past,” Seitz added.
Once you get harnessed up and equipped with a helmet, a guide will demonstrate how the Click-Its work on a ground school, a part of the course that is low to the ground. Once you master that, you have a few different routes and elements to choose from. The elements range from 20 to 60 feet in the air, with each element presenting a new physical challenge.
“The height I think is the biggest challenge for most people to overcome; after that it’s balance. I always try to challenge people to walk across one of our easier bridge elements without holding on to their Click-Its or the wire rope above them and just balance,” said Seitz
“Since the park has been open we’ve only had about 100 people use it, so it’s still a brand-new feature and we really want more people to come and try it out while the weather is still really nice,” said Large.