By Chelsea Rose Moore

One. My foot leaves the platform. Two. I’m flying, I’m gliding and I’m soaring through the trees. It’s raining, and the drops pelt my face and make it difficult to see, while the zipline carries me to a landing in the trees.

Euphoria. I come in for a less-than-graceful landing, and chat with guides in the treetops.

Although I’m in Middleburg, I feel worlds away. Amid the rain, I can almost imagine I’m in Costa Rica, ziplining through a rainforest on my summer vacation.

Middleburg’s Empower Adventures’ Tree Top Zip Tour is designed to cultivate a spirit of adventure in patrons. Conquering fear during the zipline course directly impacts real-life situations, as General Manager Trevon Hauth believes it only takes two seconds of bravery to overcome a moment of adversity.

At the start of the course, Hauth told us, “We’ll probably get you outside your comfort zone. At minimum, we need you to cultivate enough courage within for two seconds. One second for each foot. That’s all that it takes.”

Tree top zip tour shuttle sign.

Tree top zip tour shuttle sign.

When we completed the course, he brought it back home by reminding us that when life hands us a challenge, it takes two seconds to choose courage. The course is also intended to foster teamwork and push guests outside their comfort zones.

The Tree Top Zip Tours are located at The Salamander Resort & Spa. Open to both resort guests and the general public, Empower Adventures offers upscale adventure experiences marked by outstanding customer service.

The experience begins on The Salamander Resort & Spa’s grand lawn, with a short golf cart ride to the entrance of the course. After a safety briefing and introduction, guests ascend a 35-foot tower to begin the first (and shortest) line.

Comprised of five ziplines and two suspension sky bridges, the course zips through 20 acres of a nature preserve. Lines range in length from 275-670 feet and between 35 and 55 feet in height.

The course gradually progresses as lines grow in both speed and height, allowing patrons to feel confident with the process and gear before embarking on the fastest lines.

Posing on one the suspension bridges on the Empower Adventures course.

Posing on one the suspension bridges on the Empower Adventures course.

At its peak, Empower Adventures has no more than 10 guides, which allows Hauth to be selective about the people he adds to his team. Staff have a thirst for adventure themselves and their passion is evident during interactions with customers. With pleasant personalities, attention to detail and high levels of enthusiasm, they help create a memorable zipping experience for young and old alike.

Empower guides photograph guests during the course and photo albums are available for purchase.

Empower Adventures and Salamander Resort & Spa’s partnership includes luxury packages, like a Zip & Sip bundle offering high-end hors d’oeuvres with a selection of beer, wine and housemade sangria at the end of the course. Zip & Zen combines ziplining with a massage at the Salamander Spa and Zip & Ride ties ziplining with equestrian elements. Coming this fall is a Take Flight package, merging ziplining with falconry and a flight of beer or wine in Salamander Resort & Spa’s Gold Cup Wine Bar.

“This type of creativity is what professional zipliners dream of, but the fact that Salamander invited us to come and be on their property and do so many things under their umbrella is because it’s a true partnership,” said Hauth. “We are able to package things that both brands do really well, blend them together in a unique way and deliver it in a [manner] that’s true to each brand.”

Future plans include making the course even more of a destination by adding challenge course elements. Hauth is hoping to add a climbing wall on one of the tower bases, and additional elements that allow guests to climb and jump off a telephone pole, and overcome various challenges on bridges.

Zip lining through the trees.

Zip lining through the trees.

The Tree Top Zip Tours run year-round, every day of the week. To learn more or to book a journey through the trees, visit ML