TreeUmph! was an experience I will brag about for years to come. When I was young, I was that kid at Chuck E. Cheese who got nervous about anything suspended in mid-air, but TreeUmph! helped me conquer my fear. Aptly named for cases like mine, TreeUmph! is a five-level outdoor jungle gym built in between tall live oak and pine trees in Brooksville and Bradenton.
The first thing you do when you arrive is get suited up in your harness and taught how to use the clips that keep you safe while you’re 40 feet above the ground. Then you head out to the course and get a practice run using the magnetic clips that keep you locked into your harness. The clips are built so that you have to be clipped in at all times, and only one of them can be off the cable at a time. I felt safe knowing that each of the cables can hold the weight of a school bus and that I would never be without the support of a harness.
The first course called “Climb On” was about 15-20 feet above ground, which was the perfect start for my boyfriend and I because we’re both wary about heights. The first level had wooden bridges with some missing steps and some obstacles that swung as you stepped from one platform to the next. This level is for beginners because it made me feel comfortable with the idea of being so high up off the ground with (what felt like) nothing below me.
By the end of level one, I was already sweating profusely but, luckily, they have coolers filled with cold water throughout the course to keep climbers hydrated.
Level Two’s course called “Scramble” was about 20 to 25 feet up in the trees. I felt a little more wary of the distance between me and the ground below, but I was excited for this one because the course got a little more challenging. The hardest obstacles were definitely the barrels and the twisted bridge. The barrels were difficult because you had to lift yourself from one to the next with no extra support from the cables. Another fun and challenging obstacle was the twisted bridge. At certain points throughout the twisted bridge, you had to stand on the side of the wooden pieces that were only four by four inches. The Scramble Level was my favorite because the obstacles challenged me without making me feel like I wasn’t able to finish the obstacles.
Level Three called "Ascend,” which was higher in the trees and much more challenging. At the highest point on the course, I was standing probaby 35 to 40 feet above the ground. When I reached that point, I decided that I probably wouldn’t make it through Level Four and Five because of how shaky my knees were at this level. The hardest obstacle on this course was the rope wall that left you with nothing to lean on but a rope wall to crawl across. There was an obstacle that had hanging logs that you balanced on before jumping to the next single hanging log. This one channeled into my childhood fears of swinging obstacles at Chuck E Cheese, but support from my fellow climbers helped me to conquer my fears.
After jumping from log to log throughout Level Three, there was a huge zipline that made the previous challenges feel worth the wait. It felt like I was rewarded with a zipline ride for doing the difficult and scary obstacles!
Levels Four and Five, “Lead” and “Summit” were too high up in the trees for my liking, so I decided hit the large zipline after Level Three.
To get onto the platform for the zipline, I had to walk up five flights of stairs. So at 50 feet above the ground, you're on top of this platform without any assistance from a guide. However, the restraints are the same as the rest of the course so you already know how to do it! I was so excited to be able to run off the platform and race down the zipline across an alligator-filled pond!
The zipline itself is around 500 feet long, so it only takes around 30 seconds to make it from one end to the next. But, let me tell you, it's a GREAT 30 seconds! You feel the wind drying all of your sweat, which sounds gross but feels lovely in the summer heat.
My experience at TreeUmph! was truly one I will never forget because boyfriend and I both partially conquered our fear of heights during our time in the trees. I've already bragged to my friends about the experience and plan to bring a group of them with me on my next visit!
Cover photo provided by author