Full contact foraging

If you have considered dropping out of society and living as an ewok, I found your training camp. I think there are a bunch of ewok training camps, but the one near us is the Adventure Park at Heritage Gardens, described on their website as an “amazing aerial adventure forest.”

I imagined it as a meditative walk through the forest canopy on a birch walkway, surrounded by chirping birds and whispering leaves, punctuated by zip lines. The human version of this zen xylophone, if you will:


It’s not like that. It’s like this:

Which is not to say it isn’t tremendously fun. It is. You are in a safety harness clipped to a cable from beginning to end, so there is no danger of plummeting to your doom. You just worry about things like dangling from your cable, weeping gently until help arrives should you fall. (They say you just pull yourself back up. I did not test this claim.)

I was only paralytic with fear once, in a segment that turned out to be one of the easiest stretches. Isn’t that often the way? It was a modified zip line, and once I muted the “I can’t do this I can’t do this I can’t do this” voice, it was over before I knew it. Other stretches were not so simple. Imagine crossing a river stepping from stone to stone, but instead of being in the river you are 20 feet above it and instead of stones, it’s a series of trapezes. Good times.

Not only is it a lovely way to spend time in nature, it’s a total workout. Under normal circumstances it would take some athletic ability, but under my personal circumstances it required tensing every muscle in my body for 2.5 hours. Which is funny, because it turns out I do this stuff all the time.

Fun fact about me: I am a complete lunatic about foraging for food. Not mushrooms, mind you. I read Babar and know what can happen. But I am game for nearly anything else: fiddlehead ferns, blackberries, wild blueberries, cranberries, beach plums, rose hips – anything I can find. There was also the time I nearly killed my family with what I thought were chestnuts, but we’ve moved past that.

So today I remembered the blackberries were ripe. The berries in the easy to reach spots were disappointingly slim, but Sugarplum had mentioned a whole bunch in a bush she couldn’t get to. Sure enough, it was thick with giant berries, ready for picking. Not even the birds had made the required effort.

I have sustained bodily damage foraging before (usually related to poison ivy), but the possibility of falling into a blackberry bush with branches as thick as my arm had never occurred to me.

It still hasn’t.

I am the Kung Fu Panda of aerial adventure forests. I can’t jump from one suspended log to another or catch a fly with chopsticks, but by golly I can catch a dumpling in mid air and I most certainly can balance on a wobbly log if it helps me reach the top branches of a blackberry bush.

Just think what I could do with a harness.