The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Wolfgang Kurtz
LOG Editor 

Canopy tour park opening nears

 

Wolfgang Kurtz | The Seward Phoenix LOG

Adam Kalanquin, operation manager, rides a cable between two platforms under construction.

At the peak of construction last week, three teams of boreal engineers were busy climbing around the hills above Questa Woods Subdivision just north of Seward. The burst of activity was in anticipation of a June 27 deadline for opening the newest zip line park in Alaska.

With kilometers of galvanized steel cable already strung from tree to tree, the crews from around the country were swinging hammers and wielding power tools as they bolted together steel frames for elevated platforms that connected the spans across glades, copses and vales.

Joel Hoffman is co-owner along with Mark Wildermuth of Denali Zip Line tours which operates a park near Talkeetna that is now entering its third year of operation. Through his company, Tree Dimensional, Hoffman is also general contractor on the construction project near Bear Creek.

It’s one of several Alaskan canopy tour parks that Hoffman has had a hand in establishing throughout Alaska. Surprisingly, the popularity of the relatively new industry has resulting in construction of at least five parks in Alaska so far.

In August of last year, Hoffman and Wildermuth concluded the purchase of the property that will feature the zip line course. Many of the zip lines went in fast, with most strung by October when Hoffman took a break to design and build platforms over the winter at parks elsewhere.

Now, with Kalanquin added to the management team, they’ve leased a house in the neighborhood and landscaping and construction are transforming the entrance of the park.

While Hoffman has his focus on construction and maintenance, operations manager Adam Kalanquin is gearing up for customers. Hoffman recruited Kalanquin from Sonoma Canopy Tours in California and this will be his second management position after graduation with a degree in outdoor leadership.

It wasn’t a tough sell and Kalanquin says he certainly has nothing to complain about weather-wise in his first two months in Alaska. He was expecting cooler weather, but it’s turning out to be more like what he’s used to.

The first phase of the park course will feature twelve elevated platforms with seven zip lines and two rappels between. The cables will suspend adventurers over streams, lakes and meadows, all surrounded by the wild vistas of the Kenai and Resurrection mountain ranges.

With a total drop in elevation over the tour of around 700 feet, Kalanquin says they added the two rappels to lose some height in a couple cases. However, they also spice up the course adding to the variety of 4 bridges and connecting trails on the ground.

A new cable hangs over the driveway, however most of the construction activity remains hidden, as the development of the course hasn’t made much of an impact on the natural surroundings of the park grounds.

Wolfgang Kurtz | The Seward Phoenix LOG

Joel Hoffman, canopy tour construction chief and co-owner, directs workers at the Bear Creek site.

Using an old logging road for access through the dense forest, there are only few new foot paths visible. Even the overhead zip lines fade into the blue sky.

The enterprise has lined up a storefront at the Seward small boat harbor, with a counter at Terry’s Fish and Chips. Kalanquin is also working with Adventure Sixty North, the Seward Military Resort and other visitor industries to create a larger selection of year round attractions.

Kalanquin says that once the season is underway and the kinks are worked out, he’ll be looking forward to further developments. Between plans for rock and tree climbing and seasonally adjusted tree house accommodations, he claims a pretty ambitious five year vision for the new park.

With only a corner of the 80 acre property occupied by the zip line course, there’s plenty of room for growth.

 

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