This was my family’s fifth or sixth trip to the tree-climbing and zip-lining adventure land in Montgomery County, and we’d ended every trip covered in sweat, showing off some impressive scrapes and bruises, and seriously psyched about our ability to look a leaf-strewn death in the face. Visiting The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring is like being in labor – the end result is so cool you forget about the screaming and crying that preceded it.
The Adventure Park is an elaborate, up-in-the-trees obstacle course. You choose one of the 13 courses (the level of difficulty is marked like ski runs from purple to double-black diamond), and then you work your way along the course by teetering from tree to tree across different challenges or “elements.”
Sometimes you’re walking across sturdy boards with a tight, steady rope you can grip for balance. Sometimes you’re on logs swinging beneath you while the grip line sticks out at an awkward angle. Sometimes you zip line across. Sometimes you rope swing across. Sometimes you climb down an endless rope ladder that has you swearing, when you’ve kissed the platform at the bottom, that you will never again skip the arms when you’re at the gym.
None of these elements, the young and impossibly cute staff assures you, will result in your leaf-strewn death. Cinching you into your harness, walking you through a detailed training, and being readily available for the cries of “Staff help!” are all ways this young and impossibly cute (as well as friendly, patient and competent) staff insure your safety.
They also help you believe in the “tweezle.” The safety of this park is dependant on the two locking carabiners on your harness, a “life line” that runs through every course, and the tweezle. The tweezle is a locking mechanism – you lock one of your carabineers onto a course’s life line at the beginning, and you are unable to unlock until the end. This way, should you slip off the insane tightrope that you’re supposed to be walking across, your harness will catch on the life line. Boosting yourself back onto the element is easier with the adrenaline-surge of your heart pounding.
So why am I recommending this place so obviously meant for the young and fearless to In-Betweeners? Because, at our age, it’s easy to get too damn comfortable. I’m not presented with many risks anymore. And with two kids and a husband, I’m not interested in truly looking death in the face – ie. skydiving, mountain climbing, jogging. Staring at my feet (never the ground!) at Adventure Park, realizing that I’m actually balancing myself on that tightrope, and conquering an element that I was sure would defeat me leave me feeling exhilarated, powerful and capable.
And the view is fricking gorgeous.
Cost: $49 for ages 12+
Twilight tickets: $29, Mon-Thurs.; $39, Fri-Sun. (Available 3 hours before closing.)
In Between Tip: The park -- strewn with twinkling white Christmas lights -- is open for night climbing until 8 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays and until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturdays. I imagine it would be really fun with a group of adult friends. I can feel another blog coming on...