Maryland Outdoor Club
Sat, Oct 14 2006 - Ropes Course and Camping (View Original Event Details)

Event Organizer(s): Laura Paszkiewicz, Shelley Sanner
Participants:Laura Paszkiewicz, Shelley Sanner, Meir Gottlieb, Colin Babb, Dan DeVries, Ronit Fix, Saki Saki, Norma Broadwater, Beth Feeser, Aimee Morris, Joe Caudill, Sarah Tinney, Melissa Sheedy, Jesus Villeda, Andrew Grossman, Sarah Davis

Write Up:
The peanut butter pit. The boy scouts spread rumors about it, the girl scouts figure out how to get everyone across it, and on that cold October morning, a group of MOCers (some of us die-hard backpackers who see peanut butter as a very necessary staple)-we were all just standing around wondering exactly how much peanut butter is involved in the famous Hemlock "peanut butter pit." And how much peanut butter we would have to scrape off by the end of the day.

But just as many of us were surprised by how much we could communicate without talking, how challenging it is to think outside the box, how far we could hike blindfolded, how effortlessly we could swoosh down through the trees with nothing but a thin cable and harness, and how well a group of strangers and friends could come together and solve problems and become a team-just as we realized all of these things about ourselves, we also learned that the peanut butter pit is nothing more than a shin-deep square of mucky water you have to cross (sometimes blind-folded) on a rope that's hanging in the center of the pit and about a foot from anyone's grasp. No big deal, really. As long as you don't let your feet and legs slip into the cold, muddy water. And as long as you aren't the team guide who accidentally (well, we guess it was an accident?) slips into the pit just as the last MOCer has swung safely over to the other side.

To get back to the start of our day at the Hemlock Overlook Park, though.

We all met up in the parking lot that morning after a drive on some of Fairfax County's most winding and beautiful roads. It was hard to believe that we were just a short distance from the DC beltway. We quickly got to know each other better with a few games like "have you ever?" It's funny, though, because even these familiar (and sometimes, to be honest, boring) games were more fun with our Hemlock guides. Kind of like the way those freeze-dried backpacker's meals and marshmallows on a stick taste better in the outdoors.

Anyhow, we quickly split into two teams and got started on our challenges. We had to find a way to cross three small, wooden islands with very limited communication (even more limited if you weren't feeling like a rock star or an opera singer that day); we had to make our way across some very thin, wobbly wire; we had to figure out how NOT to dislocate a fellow MOCer's shoulder as we defied all rules of gravity and extended him across the peanut butter pit; we had to lead each other, blind-folded, across small logs, chipmunk holes, and uneven terrain; we had to hoist our teammates up and over a 10-foot+ wall, and-the best part-we had to conquer any fear of height, speed, vertigo, or the likes by flying through the trees on a zip wire. We had a great morning, a short break for lunch, and an even shorter afternoon as we wrapped up our challenges and headed off to our next destination: Bull Run Park.

We expected Bull Run Park (advertised as the closest campground to the nation's famous monuments and just a stone's-throw from 66) to be overrun with tourists and over-crowded tent sites, but the park was full of surprises. We quickly pitched our tents, broke open the snacks, and got to the very important task of building a campfire for dinner. (What is car camping without lots of food and cast iron skillets, anyway?) We stayed up into the night and had a repeat of the same the next morning with eggs, sausages, and homemade bread and muffins.

And then, because an MOC event just isn't an MOC event without a good hike, we found some local trails and spent the afternoon exploring the area before catching 66 and heading home.

-Shelley Sanner

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