It’s a cool clear day along the shore of Lake Superior. A few miles from the water’s edge, in a stand of mixed pine and yellow birch, a man sits quietly, mentally grappling with the realities of wilderness survival: Fear, Pain, Cold, Thirst, Hunger, Fatigue, and Loneliness.
And he’s loving every minute of it.
This is my second visit to Treetop Adventures in Goulais River, and I’m listening intently to my instructor as he discusses the finer points of surviving an emergency in the bush. Yesterday at about this time I was actually 30-feet up in the air, zip-lining across 400 feet of forest floor while my son cheered me on from below.
Later tonight, while I watch my wife and daughter leaning into each other at dinner and laughing out loud as they recall their unsteady progress across an elevated obstacle course, I decide that there’s really no doubt about it: for any family or group of friends looking for a little adventure during a visit to the Sault, Treetop’s got you covered.
There are ground-level and “elevated” obstacle courses, compass scavenger hunts, aerial climbs, and low-level ropes courses. There are Wilderness Survival workshops and classes for Wilderness First Aid. And for anyone just looking for some good old-fashioned rough-and-tumble, there’s also a one-acre paintball park and (perhaps the world’s first) Human Foosball Court!
Located in Goulais River, a small community just 20 minutes north of the city, Treetop Adventure Park and the excitement it offers really are unique to the region. In operation now for almost two years, this 85-acre, “ecologically-friendly” attraction is the brainchild of Cindy and Murray Joseph. The couple wanted to provide a place where families and friends could tackle new and interesting challenges together, have a few laughs, and enjoy some of the natural magic Northern Ontario has to offer.
Even though Cindy has already guided hundreds of people through what is usually their first “aerial” experience, she assures me that each and every day brings its own rewards.
“When you go to a typical amusement park, there really isn’t much of a connection with the guy who starts your rollercoaster,” says Cindy. “But at Treetop, when we’re working with people above ground, it actually gets pretty personal. Our guests have to put a lot of faith in the expertise and the care of the guides they’re working with, and the nature of the experience just tends to create a bit of a bond between visitors and staff.
We watch so many of our guests arrive a little uncertain, maybe a little bit afraid of the heights we want to take them to. Then we see them start to settle a bit as we work through a full ground-level orientation to introduce them to the equipment they’ll be using and the precautions we’ll be taking to ensure their safety.
And in the end it’s just such a pleasure for us to recognize the new-found confidence in the eyes of guests when they finally get up into the trees and start moving around, or when we hook somebody up to the zip line for the first time and send them flying across the ravine with a huge smile on their face. It’s actually really rewarding work.”
Take Cindy’s passion for people and match it with the technical qualifications required to erect, dismantle, and operate the zip-line and all of the other climbing equipment at the park, and now you know a bit more about Murray. With full accreditation as a TSSA ADM-AR Mechanic, he is one of a few people in Canada capable of supervising all the activity at a place like Treetop.
As a Level II Challenges Unlimited Challenge Course Instructor, and as a member of the Professional Ropes Course Association and the Association for Challenge Course Technology, he’s been able to hire and train several other aerial, lead and rescue guides to help he and his wife provide a safe and rewarding experience for each and every guest.
Treetop Adventures is open every day of the week and every week of the year by appointment only. Although the park can accommodate groups of more than 100 people, your own group need only number four or more in order to secure a guide and all of the equipment you’ll require for the experience of a lifetime. During the summer months you’ll need to phone at least a week ahead to be sure to get a spot. In the fall, winter and spring, try to contact Treetop at least two days in advance to be sure they can accommodate you.
Stay safe! Be brave! And have fun!
Things to Know
All of the guidelines for attending Treetop Adventure Park will be reviewed with you when you call to book your reservation, but you should probably know this stuff ahead of time:
- Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
- The safety equipment necessary to participate in the aerial courses and zip-line means that each participant must be a minimum of 135cm (4’6”) tall and weight less than 250 lbs.
- Guides will climb with you through sunshine, moonshine, rain, snow and sleet, but your visit will have to be rescheduled at the first signs of an electrical storm.
- Wear seasonal outdoor clothing, closed toed shoes, and gloves. Also, keep in mind that you will be wearing a helmet.
- Snacks, water and souvenirs are available for purchase during the summer months.
Story by Tim Horton
For more things to see and do in Sault Ste. Marie, CLICK HERE!