Covid-19 Rules: Visitors are required to wear a face mask while on the ground at TreeRush Adventures. Once you start your course, you can easily secure your mask to your gear.
When looking for outdoor adventures in the Omaha area, a visit to TreeRush Adventures at Fontenelle Forest is where you will find your adrenaline rush.
My first zipline experience was surprisingly indoors in the Twin Cities at Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America. Then when I realized there was a place not too far from Omaha, in Crescent, Iowa, at Crescent Ski offered during the summer, I went along with my friend Kim of Oh My Omaha. Then, a new opportunity came available to take my sense of adventure to new heights – TreeRush Adventures at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue. Now, TreeRush Adventures is different from my first couple of experiences, as it’s more rope obstacle course than zipline.
I finally got a chance to make it out to TreeRush Adventures for a climb and it was a much needed safe adventure after these last few months inside due to COVID-19. I made reservations for a mid-morning climb and psyched myself up for the day. While I definitely need to get more active in my daily life and may have gained a few pounds during quarantine, I felt like I was up for the challenge.
Once I checked in at a section devoted to the obstacle course, it was time to get geared up. Each reservation allows for two hours on the courses. I waited for my turn to approach the deck to get hooked up with my climbing gear. The attendants made sure that I was comfortable and that everything is secure. From there, I joined a small group for a debriefing on how to use the equipment and safely tackle the courses.
Who knew that going on this climbing adventure would come with a vocabulary of its own? We learned about the Tweezle, the trolley, elements, and, of course, the zipline. Tweezles, and there are two of them, are the clips that secure you to the course. The trolley is what secures you to the line to ride the zipline. The elements are the varied “obstacles,” usually made of either rope and/or wood, which take you from one platform to the next one.
As we learned about these new terms, and it didn’t take long, we then got to try out a test course, allowing us to get comfortable and practice. I went last in this group so I could watch a few people before taking it on myself. The group included a family with kids. I knew if the kids could take this on, so could I. Of course, as I was waiting to take my turn, everyone made it look so easy.
How old do you have to be to get on the courses?
There are courses for ages four and older. KidRush is designed for children ages 4-6, with easy-to-maneuver obstacles. Seven courses challenge your skill level, with each color-coded, based on the skill required to conquer them. Two yellow courses are for beginners. Two green routes are for intermediate skills. Two blue courses challenge more advanced climbers. The black course – the tallest at about 55 feet – is the toughest and designed for expert climbers.
I overheard a couple of teenage boys say they were going to go on the black course. Before the attendant would point them in the right direction, they verified with the climbers on whether or not they had completed the blue course. You can see the WoodmenLife Tower from the highest point on the “Black Diamond” course.
I started with the beginners’ course level to try to get my bearings. I’m glad I did, as it was a bit challenging for me. I worked my way across each element moving the tweezles with me and carefully moving step-by-step. It felt great to be out in nature and up in the trees. I also realized that taking on the courses gives a full-body workout. It requires balance from your core, along with upper and lower body strength.
Tim stayed on the forest floor to be my cheerleader and photographer (and also because he hates heights). Each element was different and had its challenges. Each time I completed an element, it felt pretty good. It was a reward, in itself. And when I reached a zipline, it felt like a bonus. On the two courses I attempted, there were a couple of ziplines on each one to spread out the course.
I completed the first course and took a break on one of the seats available on the forest floor. Bring water, because you’ll want to hydrate between courses. My next challenge was a green course, the next level up. The elements on this course were a bit more challenging and caused me to slow my pace. Tim advised me that it took me about thirty minutes to get through the first course.
I can attest to the courses getting more difficult the higher you go up. I worked through two elements, and was on my way through the third element when I missed a step! Yep. Oops. Clipped to the top line, I found myself dangling about 15 feet above the ground. I called for help, while several others, including my husband, called for “staff.” There are several who are spread throughout the courses observing, guiding and cheering the climbers on. Like lifeguards on “Bay Watch,” they sprang into action. Two quickly gauged my status and level of calmness. I didn’t feel unsafe the entire time I was hanging there waiting to be rescued. After a bit, I did start to feel nervous, but I knew it wouldn’t be long until I was able to be lowered down.
A staff member secured a ladder against a tree and climbed up to the element. She maneuvered her way to me. Once there, she clicked the safety clip to my harness. Once we untangled my cords from one of the elements’ rope, she slowly lowered me to the ground. Another staff member checked on me to ensure I was Ok.
I was a bit embarrassed, and, while I could have brushed myself off and gone right back up, I decided I was done for the day. It will be there for me to tackle next time.
So, if you are looking for a great physical activity to get you out into nature, check out TreeRush Adventures at Fontenelle Forest.
Quick Tip – Here are some things to bring with you:
- Face Mask – You are required to have one when you are on the forest floor or in the Nature Center. Once you are on the course and in the trees you can clip your mask to your gear.
- Water – You’ll want to keep hydrated between courses as it may be quite warm outside. Also, you’ll want to keep fluids going as this adventure will give you a workout.
- Gloves – You’ll need gloves on the courses. The ones you’ll want will be those similar to gardening gloves. If you don’t have any, or want to purchase them in advance, you can purchase them there for a small fee.
Fontenelle Forest is also in the book, 100 Things to Do in Omaha Before You Die.