Posts Tagged With: tropical

What is Ziplining, and where Did it Come From?

Here at Tree Limin’ Extreme ziplining is what we do. So we sometimes forget that some people aren’t as familiar with the concept as we are. We often get questions concerning what ziplining is and about where it came from. Maybe we can answer those questions today.

Ziplining has been around for a very long time. While historians say it was first done in the Himalayan region of modern day India, some believe that several ancient cultures in South America were actually the first to zipline. It was originally used to travel across rough terrain, and to access remote villages. The equipment was rudimentary, using a natural fiber rope and homemade harness. For many years ziplining simply remained a transport mode for the remote and wild areas of the world, but in 17th century England, ziplining first used for fun and entertainment. Steeplejacks, the high climbing people that maintained church spires, devised a quick way for them to reach the ground at the end of a long day. They would slide down a long angled line instead of climbing down. Some steeplejacks noticed that a crowd would often gather to watch this feat, and so a few of them started performing their antics for large crowds all over England.

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Steeplejacks hard at work.

These were very primitive forms of early ziplining though, so modern ziplining can trace its roots back to the golden age of mountaineering. In the early 1900’s mountaineering was becoming popular as equipment and training was improved. During this time many of the climbing techniques still used today were developed. One technique is called the Tyrolean traverse, named after the Austrian mountain range where it was invented. The Tyrolean traverse features a rope strung between two points, and a pulley is applied then attached to the climber. The climber then had to pull themselves across as the line is level. They were used to cross crevasses, chasms, and canyons. At some point, it was noticed that if one end of the line was elevated then one could simply slide, or zip, across.

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A Tyrolean Traverse

In the 1970’s and 80’s many scientists were performing expeditions into the unexplored jungles of Central and South America. These scientists used many climbing and mountaineering techniques in order to travel through the tough terrain. A group of biologists studying the rainforest canopy in Costa Rica, grew tired of having to climb up into, and then down from the canopy on every different tree. They decided to connect several trees with inclined Tyrolean traverses to make their research more efficient. After the 1992 film Medicine Man, starring Sean Connery was released, many people began to see opportunities for ziplines outside of transportation and research.

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Poster for the movie Medicine Man

Today, ziplining is one of the fastest growing forms of eco-tourism in the world. Just the United States alone has over 200 ziplines. They are now one of the most popular adventures for vacationers, and locals alike around the world. The cruise industry, especially, has helped ziplining, as it is the most asked for shore excursion on many cruise lines. Modern ziplining has little in common with its historical counterparts though. Modern ziplines are marvels of precise engineering, and immense safety. Long gone are the days of natural ropes and homemade equipment. Steel wires and specially made pulleys and harnesses are now the norm.

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Our modern zipline here at Tree Limin’ Extreme

So if you are looking for a bit of adventure on you next vacation, or close to home, be sure to look up the nearest zipline for some good times. If you find yourself in St. Thomas be sure to look us up at Tree Limin’ Extreme, as we offer the first and only zipline adventure in the Virgin Islands.

For more information visit our website at www.ziplinestthomas.com

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Categories: Adventure, Culture, Extreme Sports, Rock Climbing, Tree Limin' Extreme, Ziplining | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Plant of the Week: Manchineel Tree

While our past plants of the week have been fruits widely consumed in the islands, we are going in a different direction this week.

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A large Manchineel tree on a beach.

This is the Manchineel Tree. It is one of the most poisonous plants in the world. Native to Florida, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean, the Manchineel tree is commonly found along sandy beaches. The tree produces small apple like fruit, has oval shaped shiny green leaves and can grow in excess of fifty feet tall.

The tree is notorious in the areas in which it grows. While no deaths have ever been recorded from the tree, it is indeed seriously poisonous. In fact, the fruit of the tree were supposedly named “manzanita de la muerte” or little apple of death, by Christopher Columbus himself. Records indicate that several of his crew were made gravely ill after consuming the fruit. The tree gets it’s nefarious reputation from a caustic form of latex in it’s sap. If touched the tree or leaves can cause dermatitis, swelling, burns, and blisters. The most common injury from the tree comes from taking refuge under one during a rain storm. The sap is so caustic, the rain drops coming from the tree can cause burns. Even the smoke from a burning manchineel can cause injury. The fruit of the tree carries the same dangerous chemicals, and its effects when ingested are similar to its external effects. Compounding the danger of the tree is the fact that some people report that the fruit actually taste pleasant at first. Allowing an unsuspecting creature to take several bites of the dangerous “apple.”

The tree isn’t all bad though. It is classified as an endangered species in Florida due to it’s important role as a wind break. It also plays a crucial role in the prevention of beach erosion. In the caribbean, this is extremely important to protecting vulnerable coastlines during tropical storms and hurricanes.

Luckily, injuries from the manchineel are rare. In areas where the tree is common they are well marked, and public education about its dangers makes people aware. Signs are often posted, and their warnings should be heeded. Any tree with a red band, or a skull and crossbones (the poison symbol) painted on it should be avoided. If contact occurs, seek medical treatment.

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A warning sign found in Virgin Islands national Park, the fruit of the tree can be seen laying on top of the sign.

Here at Tree Limin’ Extreme, we offer samples of local fruits, but the fruit of the manchineel isn’t on the menu. Because we are not located near beaches, we have no manchineel trees on our property, and most of these trees in the Virgin Islands are well marked.

To see many other types of plants and animals from high in the rainforest canopy, come have the ultimate caribbean experience on our ziplines. See us at Tree Limin’ Extreme. Call for reservations at 340-777-9477 or visit our website at www.ziplinestthomas.com

Stay Extreme!

-The TLE Botanical Crew

Categories: Adventure, Other Islands, Plants, Virgin Islands, Virgin Islands National Park | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Plant of the Week: Soursop

In this installment of plant of the week, we are again checking out a popular fruit here in the Islands. This is the Soursop:

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The soursop is an evergreen tree native to Mexico. It now grows throughout the tropics from the Caribbean and Africa, to Southeast Asia. The tree is adapted only to warm climates, and cannot grow in areas with cold winters.

The soursop is also know as a guanabana, graviola, or a Brazilian paw paw. The last name is a reference to the fact that the soursop is indeed related to the paw paw tree. The tree produces a large fruit that has become a popular edible in the tropics. The fruit is even mentioned in Sri Lankan mythology. The fruit is large, green, and has the appearance of being covered in spines. Inside, the white pulp is edible, and is highly prized for it’s tasty juice. Some say it tastes like a cross between strawberry, pineapple, and citrus.

The soursop is not just prized for it’s flavor though. In virtually all of the areas in which it grows, it is highly sought after as a herbal remedy. The fruit, seeds, and leaves all have a variety of uses in traditional and herbal medicine. There have also been recent scientific studies that have found that certain soursop extracts may have cancer fighting properties.

Soursop is very popular here in the Virgin Islands. They can be found at many fruitstands and markets all around our islands. If you want some adventure with your soursop come see us at Tree Limin’ Extreme. Our ziplines are located in a rainforest with a variety of tropical plants and fruits. We even have soursop! But be sure to call for reservations at 340-777-9477.

Stay Extreme!

-The TLE Garden Club

www.ziplinestthomas.com

Categories: Culture, Food, Plants, Virgin Islands | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Plant of the Week: Genips

A branch of genips

This is the first of a weekly series of posts that will help everyone to learn a little more about our islands. Every week we will highlight an interesting plant, animal, and local island. Check back for updates every week!

For this week we are featuring the Genip. Also known as a quenepa, spanish lime, or mamoncillo. It grows throughout the tropics around the world.

The fruit grow on large trees and can be found, most commonly, along roadsides throughout the Virgin Islands. The fruit are small, slightly smaller than a golf ball, and are bright green when ripe. The season for genips is short, only a couple months in late summer. They are eaten raw by removing the outer skin, and putting the rest into your mouth and scraping the flesh of the fruit off of the large pit with your teeth. They taste like a sweeter, but still tangy lime.

You can find genips being sold by the branch all over the roadsides and in fruit stands during the season. They are best enjoyed with friends on a hot summer evening, and preferably on a beach.

If you come to visit our zipline here during genip season, we may have some around to sample, along with a variety of other native fruits. Here at Tree Limin’ Extreme, we want our guests to have the ultimate Caribbean experience, and our guides have extensive knowledge of the local plants, including genips. They are “da island ting!”

Remember to call for reservations at 340-777-9477

Stay extreme!

-The TLE crew

Categories: Culture, Food, Plants, Tree Limin' Extreme, Virgin Islands | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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