When Donkeys Fly
Air Donkey Zipline in the Arbuckle Mountains offers a wild adventure
An abundance of rocks, flora and fauna await adventure seekers along the trails and ziplines at Air Donkey. Courtesy photo
Nestled in the lush green of the Arbuckle Mountains amid birds chirping and wildlife scampering lies Air Donkey Zipline. Adventure seekers flock to Davis, Oklahoma, to sail above the trees and see the sites from a bird’s eye view.
The tour begins with excited chatter as adventurers gear up. From there, they go to a practice line where they learn to hand break before heading to the 1-mile-long course comprising six zip lines, a 40-foot staircase, and a sky bridge. Mistie Ibarra, chief operating officer, said it typically takes about two to two-and-a-half hours to complete the course, depending on the number of people on a tour.
Ibarra said Air Donkey’s guests make the tours, and Kelton Slaughter, who has been a guide for five years, concurred.
“The most interesting thing is the transition people make from the beginning to the end of the tour—from being scared to not being scared, and little kids show no fear,” Slaughter said. “Adults lose their youthful excitement for life along the way, but find it again out here. Grumpy adults can become children again.”
As an interesting side note, Air Donkey Zipline and Horseshoe Springs cabins are owned by the Changing Course Foundation (CCF). The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established in 1998 is committed to helping people eliminate their self-limiting belief systems, at-risk youth, people struggling with addictions, and those recovering from trauma or PTSD. In short, CCF exists to give people a second chance. In addition to receiving donations, two for-profit companies help fund CCF and its many programs.
Cathi Neal, CFF’s founder and CEO, said her guides are awesome.
“My guides are so amazing that they take people who are truly, truly afraid and they do what I do in the nonprofit; they help people overcome their fears and they do it on a pay-to-play course,” she said.
Colleague and fellow guide, Ashley Abair said a big part of the job is to have people step out of their comfort zones. She said guides get to know guests while hiking along the trails or facilitating team-building courses, making for interesting conversation. Although not the specific goal, occasionally, they meet someone who could benefit from CCF’s services.
“You see it all. That’s what makes this job unique,” Abair said. “Although the ziplines stay the same, the customers are all different. It makes each zip tour an experience in itself. It makes our job more fun. You never know what to expect.”
Cimarron Electric Cooperative member Marcella Biehler from Kingfisher, Oklahoma, visited Air Donkey Zipline with friends to hone her skills prior to going ziplining in Alaska. Biehler said she loved the adventure.
“It was great,” Biehler said. “My favorite part was the long stretch because it was so cool. It was like you were skimming the tops of the trees.”
Ibarra pulled together zipping across the tree tops, perhaps staying in cabins and helping people through a non-profit when she said, “People are put in certain places at certain times for certain reasons. It’s just amazing how God works; we’re glad to be a part of it.”