03 October 2015

College Outdoors Adventures

Another week of school has come and gone, and anticipation for fall break is paramount. Next week, we only have three days of classes, and then we essentially have a four-day weekend. I’m possibly going camping with my friends for one night, but besides that, I’m looking forward to not having any super concrete plans. It’ll be a nice change of pace.
There are plenty of options when it comes to finding things to do for break. A few of my friends are taking the Bolt Bus up to Seattle. Some people drive or fly home to see their families. Some people just stay on campus and relax. Also, College Outdoors has fall break trips for students. I know some people who spent the four days kayaking and camping at Waldo Lake last year. We’re actually renting gear from College Outdoors for our camping trip. Their rentals are a great resource for people who don’t just happen to have tents and sleeping bags lying around.
Not only does College Outdoors have trips for fall break, they also have spring break trips, both day hikes and overnight trips on weekends, and new student trips for incoming first-years. My new student trip, or NST, was one of the most unforgettable experiences I’ve had at LC and I would highly recommend going on one if you can. I went with eight other students on an eight-day backpacking trip in the Wallowa Mountains of Eastern Oregon. It was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’d never really been backpacking before, and although I’m a fairly athletic person (or I was at the time J), I definitely struggled. Long days, high altitude, heavy packs. But it was so worth it to stand on top of mountain passes with new friends, to recite poetry around the camp stove after dark, to make trail pizza on the side of a mountain, to wake up with the sun and eat delicious chocolate chip pancakes, to experience quiet moments in the forest.

This is the meadow camp where we stayed for two nights. Above it was this mountain that my friend Ben and I decided would be a great idea for the group to climb during our “rest” day. “It’ll only take a few hours,” we guessed. Famous last words.

If you look really closely, you can see our tents down there.

Turns out that what you see from camp is a false summit. We kept pushing on. Did I mention there was no trail? There was another false summit, and then another. We eventually made the collective decision that it would be unwise to keep going. After a grand total of eight hours, we made it back to camp only to find that an animal had eaten the dough we’d left out to rise for dinner. That night, there was an insane storm with lightning and rain and winds that tore our tents off the grass and sent them flying down the meadow. It was quite a day. It’s the kind of thing you look back on and say: “Wow, after that, I can do anything.” And the next morning was the sunniest, most beautiful day you could imagine.

 How many students does it take to transfer a trail pizza onto a plate?


Our trip leaders made sure that everyone had an honestly life-changing experience. That’s another really cool thing about College Outdoors. There’s lots of opportunities for leadership. You can get certified as a Wilderness First Responder, be a student coordinator, be a trip leader or assistant trip leader, and gain lots of skills. Personally, I prefer to just go on the trips and not have all that responsibility, but if you have an interest in wilderness leadership, College Outdoors is a good option for you.
I’ve also been to the coast a few times with College Outdoors, which was really fun and much more relaxing. 

A November day hike. It was a little rainy but not too bad, and College Outdoors provides tons of rain gear if you don't have it.

February yoga retreat. We stayed in a cabin and hiked and did yoga and it was fabulous. 

That's me. Whoo!

Anyway, that's enough reminiscing. I should really go on another trip sometime but I haven't had the time, I always seem to have a conflict when the yoga trip is happening, and that's the one I really want to do again.

I'm going to go do actual homework now. I'm currently at Maggie's, which is the convenience store and coffee shop on campus. You can get espresso drinks and snacks and stuff there with cash, cards, or the flex points that can be a part of your meal plan. It's a pretty good place to study if you prefer a more lively environment than the library. More background noise. 

If you have questions, feel free to email me at jessicakostka@lclark.edu!