Availability of interested acquaintances was canvassed around late March/early April. It was also amidst this research process that I learned of a 20% discount for all bookings made in the month of April. Keen to take advantage of this promotion, I proposed the 30th - the last possible day for the offer to apply, as well my only free Saturday at the time of planning.
We secured the 2 PM slot, surrendered the atrocious admission fee, then completed the e-waiver shortly afterwards. Aerial Game Treks were priced at $64 per adult; even with the discount applied, the cost per person totalled a whopping $51.20 plus tax.
I first requested a stopover at The Beer Store. The request stemmed from a sudden urgent need to clear out deposit recovery cans. Waterloo Brewing's new Field Berry Radler was acquired during this visit.
We forgoed the grand opening queue at The Alley and headed straight to Brampton instead.
I switched into hiking shoes and coated myself in a thorough layer of insect repellant before proceeding.
- The Can Hook was not intended to open entirely, nor would a small opening endanger one's climbing experience. The hook was to be slid onto the game track and shifted along the route as one navigated from game to game.
- The Pulley accessory was to remain on the waistband loop until use, and hooked in front of the Can Hook before attempting a zipline. Placing it in front of the hook ensured that the hook would not slam into the fingers during landing.
- Fingers were to be placed in a "Butterfly" position on the Pulley while ziplining and remain clear of the cable. Resisting movement by grabbing the cable in mid-air would halt one's place along the zipline, either demanding a member of the rescue team (orange helmets) for assistance or a manual "tow-in". The tow-in method was to be executed with one's body facing away from the landing platform, placing one hand over another on the cable, and carefully sliding oneself along the cable using the pulley mechanism.
- At every landing area was a cushioned trunk. An orange rope fixed to this cushion would be used to catch oneself and prevent backtracking along the cable. Once the pulley attachment had been re-secured to the waist loop and the Can Hook slid across the connector, participants were advised to move out of the landing area and call out "All clear!" to the next player. This was considered best practice in order to ascertain same landing conditions and prevent injury.
- Each portion of the course was termed a "game", on which two people were allowed at any given time. Ladders were restricted to one person at a time.
The first obstacle was passing the Can Hook over the connector. "Think of it as a 3D puzzle." urged our guide. The gap in the hook would only slide over the thinnest portion of the metal connector one way, so the hook would need to be rotated to achieve this. Passing the hook over the connectors grew easier over time, though passing it along the cables of the games was less enticing. Due to elevation differences, the hook would often slide back onto my face, banging my glasses frequently. Perhaps the issue was height-related, for taller participants would simply move along the cables by pushing the hook with their body.
Protection from tree branches was provided via helmets - particularly necessary when maneuvering upwards. Oftentimes, I was so deeply focused on the games that the immediate surroundings became less relevant. I saw not the fine branches that would spike me should I plummet, but the end of the games that seemed so close yet so near at the same time.
Like climbing, there were multiple ways to approach a game (or "problem"). While I opted to use wider stances for greater contact surface area with the crossing panels, others chose to maintain their centre of gravity by taking smaller steps along the cables. The cables were less slippery than the planks and logs, though the limited points of contact entailed higher risk of ankle injury if unstable. Hiking boots ought really be recommended for this activity, rather than the mere baseline of "closed-toe shoes".
A cable burn/bruise was suffered on the left arm during the last game of my third attempted course. Though, this was quite minimal in comparison to the blue-black pole bruise I had acquired the evening prior.
By the time we had reached the advanced course, we were both quite fatigued. Nonetheless, we powered through. A swing contraption (that I nearly slid off), bottom-removed cargo net, and twisted cable made for the trickiest games of the entire park. Strategically positioned between the challenges were landing platforms overlooking Heart Lake. The view was stellar, and likely only more majestic once leaves begin to sprout, frame the azureness with a luscious, flittering green.
Equipment was returned to the racks at the end of our session, and the baggy hoodie was donned once more for warmth.
It had been an exciting adventure - thoughtfully planned and engaging for both the mind and body. Tightness was felt in the quads as well as the upper back and shoulders, but most noticeable of all was, undoubtedly, the swollen fingers. The venture had been deemed worth the one-time investment, though unlikely in succession as the novelty of the course would be lost.
A brief visit to The Rec Room was made. Visitor volumes were atrociously high during pre-supper hours, leading to a wait upwards of twenty minutes for one round of Pump It Up! By the third song, I was too tired to proceed. We, or rather I, called it a day and we zipped off to dinner.
Surely enough, at 8:30 PM, I received the notification. Our table was ready.
The waitress was quick to inquire of any beverage choices, delivering my Pump Signature Amber pint shortly after glasses of water. Our shared entrées, however, would be delayed until around the 9 PM mark.
The pricier of the duo, the Fettuccine del Mare was a delicious medley of shrimp, clams, and mussels atop al dente ribbons of fettuccine. The incorporation of garlic butter was equally subtle and distinct, broadening the dish's complexity while allowing the seafood to remain in the spotlight. After obtaining a relaxed nod from across the table, I snagged the garlic bread and immediately chomped away. The texture was impeccable: a fabulous cronch edged with mild pungency.