Adventures of a sisterhood

Five friends, all in their 70s and 80s, take a zip line tour

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They say a person is never too old to try something new, and five local women are proving that by living their twilight years to the fullest.

The latest adventure taken on by these ladies in their 70s and 80s had them suspended in the air and zipping from tree to tree in the rain forest of Skamania County.

In July, longtime friends Lois Schroeder and Mary Stencel, of Camas, and Oleta Platt, Helen Moore and Carol Phillips, of Washougal, took the Skamania Zip Line Tour, based at Skamania Lodge in Stevenson.

The reason? To celebrate Schroeder’s and Phillips’ milestone birthdays.

“I thought, what a neat way to celebrate our 80th birthday,” said Schroeder, a retired substitute teacher whose late husband, Burt Schroeder, was once a pastor at Zion Lutheran Church in Camas. “It was a brand new experience.”

The plan was initially hatched by Moore — who the ladies described as “the instigator.”

“At our age we do ‘bucket lists,’” said Moore, 77. “We put different things on it as we go along. I’ve been told I’m crazy, but I like to think I’m adventurous.”

As part of the tree canopy Skamania Zip Line Tour, participants harnessed with a pulley system travel across seven zip lines ranging from 100 to 800 feet in length. There are also three sky bridges and one section where zip liners must rappel themselves to the ground from a high tree-bound platform.

“I was really excited about the zip line, but nobody told me about the bridges,” said Schroeder, who admitted to always having a fear of bridges. “But by the last zip, I didn’t want it to end.”

The zip line, the only one of its kind in Southwest Washington, opened to the public in May.

“I was very fearful to begin with,” Moore said. “But now that we’ve done it, I’d do it again.”

When their adventure was complete, the ladies retreated to the Skamania Lodge restaurant to celebrate with friends and family members who were there to cheer them on.

“We had a lot of encouragement from the ground,” said Phillips, a retired school teacher.

The friends agreed that making the experience even more special was doing it together.

“That was a big accomplishment for all of us to do that,” Moore said. “It was worth a toast. We are quite a sisterhood.”

This group of friends, who have known each other for more than 50 years, enjoy each others’ company. The go out for lunch together as often as they can, and have embarked on other adventures — together and separately — that have included parasailing and even getting tattoos.

“That was a real experience, that’s for sure,” said Moore, who got inked along with Schroeder three years ago at a Portland tattoo parlor.

Being retired and having already raised their children, the ladies are taking advantage of their freedom. A hot air balloon ride is now being discussed as a potential next adventure.

“When you’re our age, you don’t have as many responsibilities anymore,” Schroeder said. “We can do anything we want.”