19 August 2009

Beilngries' Adventure Park

Classes were over and the month of July nearly was as well. My paperwork had been turned in and my vacation had actually started. A couple weeks before I had celebrated my birthday, but the timing at the end of the semester brought any commitments to most creative ideas out of the question for my friends preparing for exams. Instead of the usual special activity I normally try to find for and undertake on my birthday, we marked the day with more mundane techniques--dinner in a restaurant followed with a couple bar stops. Now that my vacation had arrived, I could find another activity to additionally, though belatedly, celebrate my birthday. In the end, a couple friends arrived at the idea to treat me to a day at the adventure park in Beilngries.

The small town lies northeast of Eichstätt in no more than 20 minutes by car. Beilngries is still with in the borders of the nature park that encompasses the region around Eichstätt. Likely due to this location can one find the adventure park in this otherwise quite but attractive community. As a high-ropes course, the park itself has nothing to do with amusement or theme rides, rather tree-high challenges that push visitors to overcome their physical and, mostly, mental limits.

This was actually my first time at a high-ropes course, but the concept is not so difficult to grasp. At the adventure park visitors begin by climbing a ladder to the starting platform resting several feet above the ground. From here the visitors set out on the course, crossing to the next platform or station one at a time. The park offers six separate courses that range from easy enough for small children to challenging enough for adults only. Each course consists of six to ten stations. To pass from station to station one must cross the divide with the presented method, including simple ones such as an unstable foot bridge or monkey bars to more challenging ones like tire swings or tight ropes. At the end of the course the most common way to come back to earth is by zip-gliding to the forest floor. The picture below shows me crossing to a platform using two steel cables, one for walking on and one for holding.

Safety is of course a major concern. My friends and I started our visit with a introductory lesson that explained how to properly use our harnesses. Attached to the harness are two ropes that must always be connected to the overhead safety lines from the minute of stepping on the starting platforms. As one goes from station to station he must disconnect his ropes from the safety lines of the previous station and connect them to those of the next, one after another. Thus the reason for two ropes on one's harness, should the visitor fall in this process one rope will always be attached to the safety line. Additionally, visitors must wear helmets at all times. Several stations include a swinging mechanism that could, if utilized incorrectly or clumsily, send the visitor headfirst into a tree or the next platform.

Never even attempting the children's course, I successfully completed the other five. The two most difficult were restricted to adults only, and at times, as best as I can guess, ranged from 40 to 50 feet off the ground. The picture below shows me crossing a station on the brown course, the most difficult. The station involves several individually hung logs that descend to the next platform.

A couple videos were taken during our visit, but most last too long to post on the blog. This one though was short enough, even if the action seems to be missing somewhat. Clearly, the video starts after my sled ride has already begun on one of the intermediate courses. What you don't see is the very beginning. I had to first retrieve the sled from the next platform by pulling an attached rope. After it reached my starting platform, I buckled the sled into a recycled seat belt fastener attached to the platform and carefully maneuvered myself onto the wobbly seat. Once I was ready, I leaned back and pushed the button on the fastener, thereby sending me on my way. Toward the end of the video you can see that my gravity-driven sled ride ended before reaching the next platform and that I had to pull myself along.

During our visit the park hosted several other visitors from all age groups. When we arrived a large elementary school group was spread all around. Several adult and teenage visitors were also there to share the courses with us. Judging also by the fact that I have seen advertisements for many other high-ropes courses and heard others' stories, this activity seems to be much more popular in Germany and Europe than what I have noticed in America.

After our thrilling adventures in the park, we rested and picnicked along the banks of the Altmühl River in a calm Beilngries. With full stomachs and drained adrenaline, we eventually returned to Eichstätt.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nicholas / the rope course looks like it was alot of fun / when I went to exploring leadership over Heber Springs we did some similar things / well not long now till your visit / looks like we will be heading down to the Big Easy! / look forward to the food