Outdoor programs sponsor alternative spring break

Kendra Ludemann and Kendra Ludemann

Spring break is coming soon and Outdoor Programs is offering a cheap trip which involves little planning on the participant’s part. This year’s trip offers a week-long excursion to the Appalachian Trial.

The trip gives five to 14 participants the chance to set foot on the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina. Two groups will start in two different areas and will hike toward each other. One group will start on Albert Mountain and the other on Wesser Mountain.

Outdoor Programs decided to explore the Appalachian Trial because of its accessibility. Also, they chose to travel in North Carolina because the weather is somewhat manageable. The area is a place where a safe environment can be maintained. Assistant Director of Outdoor Programs Bryan Cavins said the area of the Trail they will be traveling is a good area for beginner hikers.

“It’s geared toward beginners,” Cavins said. “It’s challenging yet doable.”

When the hikers meet at the end of the week, they will take showers and eat a big meal, which is a treat for each person involved.

“We realize how lucky we are to have controlled climate,” Cavins said. While on the Trail, the hikers must rely on their own judgment as to when to eat and when to add or remove layers of clothing.

Along the Trail are places for the hikers to camp out at night. There are some shelters along the path, but if a through-hiker on the Trail needs a place to stop during the night, the program will give up the shelter space and sleep in tents. Tents are provided by Outdoor Programs.

On previous trips, the Program has seen various experience levels. Graduate assistant Rob Thompson said backpacking intimidates a lot of people.

“About 75 percent of the participants have never been backpacking before,” Thompson said.

By providing a beginner-oriented trip on the Appalachian Trail, Thompson hopes that a lot of the stereotypes and myths about backpacking can be overcome.

In previous years, the backpackers have learned quite a bit on the Trail.

“The leaders give participants general tools without dictating,” Cavins said.

People generally fear the unknown. Cavins said that he usually hears comments about how people are afraid that by going, they will slow the group down.

As a leader, Cavins has seen the backpackers’ sense of accomplishment grow. They are happy with themselves because they feel they have accomplished something.

People who are trained in safety also go on the trip. They are people who have skills to lead such a trip. If there is ever a dangerous situation, the leaders know how to respond.

While each day on the Appalachian Trail has its challenges, each day also has its rewards. The trip offers a mountain-top experience. “Nothing is so exhausting that you can’t enjoy the evening,” Cavins said.

Thompson said: “I am extremely excited for the trip. It’s a chance to get away from Bowling Green, to refresh, to be in nature, and to be with friends.”

The deadline for registration is today, Feb. 26. For information, contact Bryan Cavins at 372-2790 or Rob Thompson at 372-2146. Registration is at the main office in the Student Recreation Center from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and at the climbing wall after 4:30 p.m.