Zip line in the dark

By Scott Fais, Feature Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, September 12, 2014, 4:30 AM EDT
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When the sun sets just south of Gainesville's "Swamp," the Canyons in Ocala comes to life.
 
"It used to be a mine 100 years ago,” said Traci Walker in a grassy field just off of Interstate 75.
 
Now the mine is home to the Canyons Zip Line and Canopy Tours offers full moon tours once in... well... a full moon.
 
"It's a complete blast to be able to see the lake and the moon shining on the lake at night,” said Traci, the owner of the land the former mine sits on.  “It's really a different experience."
 
Folks line up and then get suited up, putting on all the necessary safety gear. The lanyards can hold up to 10,000 pounds each!
 
"We don't have any bright lights anywhere,” Traci comments.  Each helmet participants wear has a glowing stick inserted into them.
 
You'll leave all light bulbs behind as a golf cart takes you out into the wilderness, where there is no illumination.
 
"Here at night, it's a little more scary,” admits tour guide Jennifer Chittum.
 
"My biggest fear is if I run into a spider web,” admits Claira Banner from Lakeland.
 
Guides like Jennifer strap participants into the treetops.
 
"You can't see. You don't what exactly is coming up. They element of surprise makes it more exciting," Jennifer said.
 
Connected to the overhead cable, it's time to float. The overhead cables give off a loud metallic sound, similar to a dentist’s drill. The sound can be heard, but not seen, since there are really no lights illuminating the complex.
 
While gliding across the shadowy canyon is easy, sticking the landing at the end of each zip line is tough. But Jennifer said relax and don't worry about dangling over the canyon below.
 
"You're held up by two lifelines out there and never at any time are both of them unhooked,” Jennifer explained.
 
One-by-one, participants will glide through the trees five times and climb across a rope bridge.
 
After an hour, the group returns to the Caynon's base camp.
 
"I am already planning on coming back with my brother. I promised him I would,” shares Emily Doolin from Lakeland before making the long drive home.  "With the moon out, it looked really, really pretty."

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