Have you ever been happily hopping from rock to rock on a hiking trail, only to have a rock shift unexpectedly beneath your feet to remind you that the ground isn’t always as stable as you like to think?
Have you ever had it happen when you were 60 feet in the air?
I have, and if you want to know what that feels like you need to pay a visit to the new Wildplay Monkido course, an aerial adventure park in an above the trees at Mount Sima.
It involves 48 suspended aerial obstacles for participants to navigate through, including lumber jack logs, Tarzan swings, monkey bars, swinging log bridges, spinning bongo balls, and seven zip lines.
It’s a load of fun and, at times, much more challenging than it looks.
Wildplay describes Monkido as “the playful ‘monkey-see, monkey-do’ action of testing physical and mental limits; and learning that with bravery and practice life is a never-ending evolution.”
With that in mind, I brought three friends with me to try our hands at learning and playing like monkeys in the trees (one of whom got the job of trying all the games while carrying and using a camera).
Let’s be clear. Monkido is anything but a static set of monkey bars six feet above your neighbourhood playground. It’s up there. Way up there!
Now, I have a love of heights, a background in rock climbing and a tendency to throw myself at whatever challenge someone puts in front of me. So, for me, Monkido was destined to be a great time.
Keeping in mind, though, that not everyone shares those traits with me—for example, many people are terrified of heights—I made sure a couple of my climbing partners weren’t quite as naturally comfortable as me above the canopy.
In fact, two of the three I brought along really don’t like heights at all (not the one with the camera; that would just have been cruel). It seemed like a good test (she says, as she laughs maniacally).
I have to say that the test was aced with flying colours, both by my friends, who stepped up to every challenge as willingly as I did, and by the Monkido employees, who made them feel comfortable enough to do so.
Jodie Thompson, one of my fellow simians-for-a-day, put it this way: “I felt completely safe the whole time, even when we were 60 feet in the air—which should have terrified me.”
Thompson didn’t hesitate to offer her endorsement.
“The staff does such a fabulous job of preparing you with their safety briefings, and then the course is constantly challenging you so you don’t have time to worry about being up in the air,” she told me.
“You are so completely focussed on how to get across the wildly swinging log bridge, or through the hanging barrel, or across the net that you don’t have time to think about the height, except when you’ve made it to the next platform. And then all you really notice is how awesome the view is.”
Monkido is careful to make its challenges progressive in nature.
There are four courses you get to traverse as part of the program: green, blue, red and black. With each progressive level the course gets higher and the games get harder.
The good news is that you can take what you learned at an easier stage and apply it to whatever challenge you are currently facing.
For example, the blue course has a log bridge to cross where each log is hung independently from the others. It looks like a piece of cake, but it turns out it isn’t—at least, not until you figure out where to hold onto to keep it from swinging like crazy.
And no, I’m not going to tell you the secret. You need to figure it out for yourself.
After flailing for a bit, you will likely strike upon the way to make the game easier.
This is great, because when you get to the black course, you have another one to cross—except that all the logs are on angles and slanting and spaced father apart and are above the trees.
Which leads to another fantastic point about Monkido: the guides don’t tell you how to get through the games. You have to figure it out for yourself.
That’s part of the challenge and learning built into the program (although if you’re later in your group you can also learn by watching the people ahead of you).
It’s a great challenge… and a great workout. If I’m being honest, I have to admit I felt my abs and my shoulders and my arms the next day. And that’s a really good thing.
You can expect the full course to take around two and a half hours, although I’m told some of the guides have mastered it and can run the whole thing in 13 minutes flat while still following every safety precaution the regular patrons do!
I have a fair amount of practice between now and the 13-minute mark.
You can learn more at http://www.wildplay.com/parks/yukon. You won’t regret the trip.