A few senior citizens at the Whitehall Senior Center are broadening their horizons, both figuratively and literally.
Hazel Reynolds celebrated her 79th birthday Oct. 14 on a zip line above the treetops of the Hocking Hills.
It was her first time on a zip line, as it was for three other members of the Whitehall Senior Center she had recruited to join her on an excursion at Hocking Hills Canopy Tours.
Mayellen Fowler and Sharron Liston, both 69, and Gloria Whitaker, 73, accompanied Reynolds, who also was joined by her daughter, granddaughter and her granddaughter’s boyfriend.
The seniors who accompanied Reynolds represented about one-third of the number she had tried to persuade.
“About eight people I asked didn’t want to do it,” she said.
The zip-lining adventure is the latest of a series of activities in which Reynolds has a new or renewed interest. She performs vocals one a night a week at a Gahanna restaurant during an open-mic night and plays Wii bowling at the senior center as often as she plays cards.
Reynolds said the zip-lining experience offered a few surprises.
“It looked like we’d hit the trees on a few runs, and that got me,” said Reynolds, who said she also was a little apprehensive about the rope bridges that must be crossed to get from one platform to the next.
“They shook a lot,” she said, but “it was some way to celebrate a birthday. It’s something I never thought I’d be doing but probably won’t do again.”
For Liston, however, the zip line is one many adventures she intends to enjoy. Two years ago at age 67, she celebrated the start of a “bucket list” by getting a first-time tattoo.
“I was a little apprehensive before the first jump and asked myself, ‘Do I really want to do this?’ But after the first jump, it was ‘Hell, yeah,’” said Liston, who plans to make zip-lining an annual event. “The first time, I yelled my head off so loud they heard me in Columbus. I’m going on the ‘Super’ (longer, more rigorous series of jumps) next year.”
Fowler said she, too, had to summon more than a little courage for the first jump.
“You know it’s safe, but it’s something I had to keep telling myself,” she said. “Jumping off that platform and sailing, the exhilaration hits you right in the face.”
For Fowler, the zip-lining trip was the latest in a series of adventures. A week prior to zip-lining, Fowler was at Chicago’s The Ledge at Skydeck, a six-sided glass cube at the top of Willis Tower, formerly Sears Tower.
Earlier in the year, she handled a tiger at the Siberian Tiger Conservation Association in Gambier.
A veteran of cruise ships and watercraft, Fowler said she never had a problem getting “land legs” back after a week on the water but did experience some walking woes after spending the afternoon zip-lining.
The women, donning matching pink shirts that read, “Zip Chicks,” jumped from nine stations over about a three-hour span.
Each platform was of a different length and descent angle.
Whitaker said he loved the experience and the camaraderie with the other senior citizens.
“It was something different than having birthday cake,” she said.
Fowler said the group attracted less attention than she would have expected. Though most fellow zip-liners were quite younger, Fowler said, she was pleasantly surprised to discover other senior citizens enjoying the activity.
After the zip-lining adventure, the group shared their stories at a restaurant in Logan.
Whitehall resident Hazel Reynolds, who turned 79 in October, glides along a zip line in Hocking Hills.