By bright and early 7:30 AM almost all of us had found our way to the storeroom, which was pretty good when you consider that almost none of us had been there before. We grabbed way more tents than we needed (a luxury of car camping!), an assortment of sleeping bags, and a stove. Things we meant to bring (but didn’t): slacklines, sleeping pads, and a first aid kit (Alex had a personal one though, so everyone would be ok).
Car by car we arrived at the Ohiopyle State Park Visitor Center, where we packed bag lunches. Avalon was in charge of food packing and did a really amazing job getting everything together! With our lunches packed and our water bottles filled, we set out to begin our hike. But before we got really anywhere at all, there was a realization that with this many people (16) it would be easy for someone to get lost! Luckily, we were CMU students, so the idea of assigning numbers and counting off was quickly developed.
The trail was wide enough for people to walk side by side for a good portion of it, which made for easy conversation throughout the group. Our route took us down the Sugarloaf Trail, and then we turned back on the Baughman Trail making our total distance about 6 miles. The first part of the trail was a gradual uphill along a well-maintained path, with a steep downhill dash near the very end. There was a break for lunch somewhere along the Baughman Trial at a bouldery overlook! The view was beautiful, overlooking rolling green forested hills that were just beginning to hint yellow-brown, and a softly lit cloudy sky.
After we finished our hike, we celebrated with ice cream and a short walk to the famous natural waterslides. The water level was higher than usual after an entire week of rain, turning a usually bumpy but fun ride into a concussion cannon. Safety was considered, and the swimmers moved down to a less treacherous set of slides. In the swift current of the lower, wider slides, the swimmers played a game similar to red rover, with the runner using the current to catapult themselves into the unsteady human chain. It seemed to be one of those reasonably abnormal experiences that brings people closer together.
It was then time to head to the campsites. We set up camp and attempted to begin a fire in one of the fire rings using logs from the campground. The logs were damp, the ground was damp, and although the fire building skills of the camper’s were great, the big logs just would not catch. To hopefully get dinner on the table more quickly a separate team formed, Team Charcoal, which ventured to find charcoal and lighter fluid to cook in the other fire ring. The conclusion of these two different approaches resulted in one set of people maniacally fanning flames with paper plates and the other set spraying a pile of lit charcoal with lighter fluid (in a... controlled “jetstream-of-fire” manner). Thanks to both of these efforts, we ended up with two semi-workable fires on which to cook our food-- though we still ended up breaking out the camp stove and the pans to ensure the burgers were cooked through. Everyone ate their fill, even with the chaos of multiple fires (some steadier than others).
After dinner, we roasted giant puffy marshmallows and made some smores. A very informal game of Taboo was played as some folks began to drift off to their tents or hammocks. Despite it being a typical starless/cloud-filled Western Pennsylvania night and the rumble of the occasional train, it definitely felt nice to be away with nature.
We woke up the next morning to a beautiful sunny day-- and after demolishing some bagels and bananas the cars split off again-- some for a mid-day return to CMU and some continuing on to a beginners climbing trip to finish off their weekend. At CMU the gear was returned, and people split up to their respective dorms to frantically cram a weekend’s worth of work into one afternoon.
Composed by Ryan Yeh and Avalon Perdriel-Arons
2nd, 3rd, and 4th images credit to Wanhe Zhao