For the past 50 years or so Carver Falls has remained a personal treasure of the Bryan family. Occasionally the family would open the property up to the Boy Scouts for projects and the like, but otherwise it went pretty much unnoticed and unused by the citizens of Fayetteville. That has all changed.
On July 25, Zipquest Waterfall & Treetop Adventure opened, which has allowed the Bryans to make the most of the beautiful landscape and natural resources that have been tucked away, right off Ramsey Street for decades.
“We have really tried to make this course as eco-friendly, and exciting as possible,” said Phil Kroll, director of operations for S.T.E.P.S., Inc., the company that custom designed and built the course. “We wanted it to be challenging but still offer a chance to make the most of the great views and natural resources that you have here.”
The new entertainment venue is located on 55 acres of pristine forest in the heart of Cumberland County. Carver’s Falls is named for Samuel Carver who received it along with 640 acres from King George II of England in 1735.
There is little known about the use of Carver’s Falls, however a Mill House that was used to mill grain was erected on the property. The mill was powered by the waters fl owing through a canal diverted from Carver’s Creek. The Old Mill House still stands today and can be seen from several zipline runs.
Carver’s Falls is located on the west side of the Cape Fear river in North Fayetteville. It occurs at the intersection of Carver’s Creek and McPherson Creek creating a waterfall that is over 150 feet wide and two stories tall. The stone-like formation is known as the “Cape Fear Formation”. The two combined creeks are known as Carvers Creek which empties into the Cape Fear River.
Great care was taken in preserving the natural fl ora and fauna that abound along the course. The Bryans’ goal was to create an exciting venue while preserving the beauty and timelessness of the natural habitat.
Zipquest is a thrill a minute. A fast paced and intense zip-line tour, the course includes 16 tree platforms, eight zip lines, three sky bridges, three spiral staircases and two highly trained canopy guides. It is designed so that once adventurers are geared up and hooked to the line, their feet don’t touch the ground until the tour is over — which can be up to three hours give or take.
It costs $79 per person and zippers must be 10-years-old and weigh 70 lbs. to try the course. Zipquest offers group excursions and discounts are offered for active duty military and there are also group discounts available. The park is open seven days a week with the fi rst tour starting at 8 a.m. Book online at www.zipquest. com or give them a call at 488-8787.
Photo top left: A birds eye view of Carver Falls.
A Thrill Every Heart-Pounding, Breathtaking Minute
When I opened the press release for Zipquest, I was slightly intrigued, and then I didn’t think about it anymore — mostly because I am the biggest non-adventuring scaredy cat ever, — and never expected to fi nd myself anywhere near an adventure course.
The eight zip lines, each seemingly higher and longer than the next, the three bridges (one of which is the longest in the state), the amazing treetop canopy, the beautiful waterfall, the eco-friendly way the course was constructed and the top-notch safety procedures they follow on the course didn’t cross my mind again until my boss emailed me an invitation to join her at media day. I (very) reluctantly agreed to go — but not to participate.
When all of the information gathering, interviewing and picture taking (from the ground) was over, I thought I was going to escape unscathed; however, Tiny, the course manager, threw down the gauntlet: “Stephanie, if you will trust me, I know that I can get you through this course.”
I knew I could not do it in front of my peers in the media, but I agreed to return the next day, when there would be no peers there to see me fall apart, no one in line behind me angry and appalled at the multi-phobic mess of a woman hyperventilating, shaking and covered in tears keeping them from enjoying their adventure.
The second I heard myself say “Okay, two o’clock tomorrow then,” I started praying for whatever combination of natural disaster and horrible illness it would take to get me out of my commitment to try the zip line because I am petrifi ed of heights, falling and being strapped to things.
My prayers went unanswered. The weather was beautiful the next day and apparently, Tiny was feeling fi ne, judging from the big smile on his face when I got there. (I think he was surprised that I actually showed up, and honestly, so was I.)
Since I had killed and maimed myself 10,000 times over in my mind since agreeing to this lunacy, signing the release form was a piece of cake. I signed, dated, crossed my heart and handed it back to Tiny with shaking, sweaty hands.
Shea and Tiny (my two ever encouraging and patient guides) escorted me to ground school — the 10 minute course where you learn all the safety rules and intricacies of how not to spin out of control and slam yourself into trees as a method of stopping. Eventually, I was pronounced competent and ready to zip.
The next two and a half hours are a blur. I came off the fi rst zip line severely frazzled, but physically unharmed — and was very disappointed to have to tell Tiny that no, in fact, it was NOT awesome.
And so it went, from line to line. I forced myself into position, each time thinking that surely, by the time I got to the next tree, I would have conquered my fears, felt the rush of exhilaration and joy that all the other riders I’d seen the day before had so obviously felt.
Instead, I grabbed onto Tiny at every platform like a drowning person latching on to a life preserver, and as quickly as he could peel me off I would glom onto the nearest tree, near tears, sweating and panting like I had just run a marathon. I gave a whole new meaning to the phrase “tree hugger” that day.
I was so scared that I never actually stepped off any of the platforms. I would get into position, Shea would hold the cable and I would close my eyes and say “Okay.” Then she would let go. I would scream, tense up, bump my helmet on the cable a few times which resulted in a loud GZZZT and get right into the braking position and start frantically looking for Tiny to give me the signal that I could stop.
I knew there were three bridges when we started, so I don’t know why it was shocking to see the first one emerge from the canopy.
I nearly sprung a leak as I reached (with some insistent guidance from Tiny pulling me onto the bridge and Shea nudging me from behind) toward the cable railing. My feet became cement cinder blocks and my fi ngers turned into sausages as I gripped that cable for dear life and scooched my feet a centimeter at a time towards the other end.
Tiny kept reminding me to keep my eyes on him, but whenever I did that I only saw the platform we were trying to get to which seemed to be getting further and further away. Then my eyes would fi ll with tears, which made it hard to see, which scared me even more so I would stop, making the next step even harder.
When we got to the other side, Tiny congratulated me and reminded me that we only had two more bridges to go.
I guess being at such a high altitude (they say it is only 125 feet or so, but I don’t believe them) I had lost my ability to count. I just knew for a fact that there was only one more! I am telling you, I was devastated when I realized there really were two more bridges to cross — and I’m not talking about “no dessert after dinner” devastated, I’m talking left at the altar or fi nding out you are one credit shy of graduation devastated.
I did finish the course with some of the fi nest coaxing, cajoling and encouraging I have ever witnessed.
While I did not conquer my fears of height and speed that day, with Shea and Tiny’s help I was able to accomplish something I never thought I would even have the nerve to try. I walked away from Zipquest a better person for the experience, determined not to be defi ned by my insecurities and inspired to push myself to try new things ... and a little jealous of all the folks out there who don’t have my phobias who will be having remarkable adventures and making great memories on this course — like my 11 year-old daughter who experienced it with her dad and loved every minute!
— Stephanie Crider
Photo right: A thrill a minute, Zipquest was not only an adventure for me, but a confidence building course too.
The Other Side of the Bridge
While my coworker Stephanie was not so excited about the Zipquest adventure, I was ready and willing to jump in with both feet! Although I am not a huge fan of heights or roller-coasters and the like, I am finding that, as I get older, I am more and more willing, even eager, to try something new. I’m starting a new adventure next month as I get married and head off to Costa Rica for our honeymoon. I saw Fayetteville’s new Zipquest as a chance to try out zip lining before I am thousands of miles from home soaring above a jungle accompanied by howler monkeys. And, I admit, I also thought “This is relatively fl at Fayetteville, how scary (or amazing and adventurous) can it be?” And I was intrigued — I’ve lived here my whole life, and went to Methodist College — and have never heard of any waterfalls back in the woods!
As I was strapped in to harnesses and shown the ropes by the guides, I told them of my plans to visit Costa Rica and zip line there. Many of the staff and bystanders commented that they had been to Costa Rica, Belize and the like and that Fayetteville’s zip line was better. I was a little skeptical at those glowing reviews, but off I headed on my adventure. As I went up to the fi rst platform, my heart beat a little faster and the adrenaline started pumping. I mentally went over the instructions on hand position and stopping to make sure I would get it right. As I stepped off the platform and whished along to the other side, I thought “Wow, this IS fun!” Unlike my dear coworker, I was never scared on the course. The guides took every safety precaution, always making sure that they and each zipliner were hooked in to the cables. As the tour progressed, I was extremely impressed with the design of the course. The timing of the tour was just about perfect. At a little over two hours, I felt like I received a great experience without feeling like “can this be over already.”
Our guides were friendly and knowledgeable about the construction aspects of the course, as well as the property itself.
I’m looking forward to the zip line in Costa Rica now, if nothing else, just to compare the construction and the safety features (I sure hope it is as good!). I can’t wait to go back in the fall, when my son turns 10, and experience Zipquest in autumn with him and my husband. A year-round adventure, it will also be spectacular in the spring when the wild dogwoods are in bloom. I think I could return time and again to experience Fayetteville’s seasons (yes, we have seasons!) from the treetops.
— Joy G. Kirkpatrick