Melbourne, FL – June 2, 2014 – When I was approached by Lydia Carrington, Brucemont Communications, on behalf of Navitat Canopy Adventures to do an article about their mountain zipline, I knew that I was not able to travel from Melbourne, FL to Asheville, NC. Not often am I not able to provide an on-the-scene account of the outdoor adventures I write about, but this time I had to lean on one of my best friends, Scott (Nature Geek) Dean to fill in for me. Scott just happens to live in God’s country, the Blue Ridge Mountains, in special town of Asheville, NC. Scott and I served in the USAF together at the 4th Allied Tactical Air Force detachment in Heidelberg, Germany. Boy did we kick back a few beers. But that is a whole different story. When I approached Scott to collaborate with me, he said that he was excited to help out. So Scott got to spend the day at Navitat enjoying their new mountain zipline, the Blue Ridge Adventure Tour.
Now if you are unfamiliar with a zipline adventure, this is an outdoor recreation experience where you
slide down steel cables that are strung across long distances through the tree tops while wearing a special harness systems and mountain climbing helmet. If you do some research you may find a zipline close to where you live. In my home town of Melbourne, FL, our Brevard Zoo has a Treetop Trek zipline that carries riders through the zoo. With a little research using Google, I found a web site called Zipline Rider. You can find ziplines all over the Country on this website. Did you know that there are over twenty (20) ziplines in North Carolina and fifteen (15) here in Florida.
Navitat opened their Asheville location in 2010. Navitat’s Blue Ridge Experience features three pairs of dual “racing-style” ziplines, with riders zooming alongside each other against the panoramic backdrop of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. The zips are long — from 1,100 feet to nearly three-quarters of a mile — and high — up to 350 feet off the ground.
“This tour is all about flying high and flying fast,” said Dylan Burt, Navitat’s CFO. “It’s an experience that’s just as suited to families and ziplining novices, as it is to thrill-seekers.”
The new tour is equipped with a special braking system that automatically reduces the speed of the rider as he approaches the end of the zipline, allowing him to focus exclusively on the experience and the views.
The Blue Ridge Experience is the latest addition at Navitat. The original tour opened in 2010 and is now called Moody Cove Adventure which features a tree-based course of 10 ziplines, sky bridges, rappelling and forest hikes. It has been called one of the best zipline canopy tours in the nation by USA TODAY and Outdoor magazine, and a must-do activity in Asheville by the New York Times.
“We think the Blue Ridge Experience is the perfect complement to our original tour,” said Dylan Burt. “Where the Moody Cove Adventure puts you up in and among the trees, the new tour is about flying high above the forest, through wide open spaces.”
Blue Ridge Experience tours began on May 10 and will run daily through November. Cost is $69 per person Sunday-Friday and $79 on Saturday and holidays. The Moody Cove Adventure tour returns for another season in March of each year. Cost is $89 per person on weekdays and $99 on weekends. Reservations are required. Visitwww.navitat.com or call 1-855-NAVITAT (855-628-4828) for more details and to book your tour.
The following is a partial transcript between Scott (Nature Geek) Dean and Dylan Burt, Navitat CFO. Scott recorded his interview with Dylan Burt after Scott completed his Blue Ridge Adventure Tour.
Dylan Burt: My name is Dylan Burt, Chief Operating Officer for the company. We started the company in 2009 a group of three individuals, Ken Stamps, Sam Walker and John Walker got together. John had been in the business for a long time creating canopy tours for other people.
Scott Dean: So doing the same kind of zip line work.
Dylan Burt: He had been building these things for other people. He owns Bonsai Design they build and design these all over the nations. They have been building these things for all these people and locations and decided what is happening are running and their making all the money and so he decided to do it, he wanted do it right, do it his way and so he got in touch with his dad, Sam Walker and his uncle Ken Stamps and they formed this company. They called me up and convinced me to move to Asheville, NC to start the company with them.
Scott Dean: You came to the right spot in NC.
Dylan Burt: We did yea we sure did.
Dylan Burt: We started the company in 2009 and it is doing real for us. Just this like you experienced we pick up the Blur Ridge Experience tour this year.
Scott Dean: This is the first year for the one with the big long run.
Dylan Burt: That is the Blue Ridge Experience Tour, the bigger of the two tours. The three ziplines are obviously the ziplines are a lot bigger than on the canopy tour.
Scott Dean: I know the last one was 3,600, 2,500 and 1,100 feet.
Dylan Burt: That's correct, yep. The first zipline is the 1100 that's to get you use to it and then you go he 3,600 and 2,500.
Dylan Burt: That's correct, yep. The first zipline is the 1100 that's to get you use to it, then you go he 3,600 and 2,500.
Scott Dean: That's deceptive, on the longer of the three - what you are use to by the time I was reached the end I was thinking I do not have enough momentum to make it to the end and then, WHAM! Well, I did have enough momentum to make it to the end.
Scott Dean: What kind of training does your staff go through? They were very, very on, being retired military, I was ready on the right, ready on the left, ready on the firing line, always the same which eliminates the mistakes.
Dylan Burt: Sure.
Scott Dean: So do you have a set plan?
Dylan Burt: You go through a very intense training program. The training program for the canopy tours is the first training they get, the Moody Cove Adventure. That is 17 hours of training, pretty intense. They go through everything and learn everything from what a carabineer is and how to perform a technical rescue at height. They do that and the second training they go through is educational training and that's more of the soft skills - how to talk to somebody and how to introduce them to the educational narrative we are trying to perform out here. After 30 hours training and the next training 20 hour training that is the specifics to the Bluer Ridge Experience Tour, all so all, its about 120 hours of training.
Scott Dean: Are there any sort of National Certification or anything or is this or is this programs that the industry accepts?
Dylan Burt: There is no national certification for zipline tours currently. ACCT has created standards for the industry. ACCT is essentially right now thinking about starting a certification wing for their organization. I sit on one of the committees working on that right now. John Walker and other partners are on other committees developing performance standards.
End of interview partial transcript.
The Navitat, according to Dylan Burt is a “Tree-Based Zipline Adventure that thrill, educate and inspire” their visitors. I can say that after talking with Scott Dean, he was definitely thrilled, educated and inspired.
With the number of zipline canopy rides that are popping up all across America, you can most surely find one close to where you live. If you visit the Bonsai Design website, you can find links to the entire list of zipline canopy adventures they have built.
If you are interested in the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT) and the work that they do, visit their website.
I can see by looking at all the great photos Scott Dean took, Navitat is the place to go this summer. So book your trip today.
Until next time, be safe in the sun and have a great day in the great outdoors.