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With the onset of Fall Break, some people like to use that time for relaxing and taking a break from the hectic environment the first 2 months of school can bring. Others
use that time to catch up on work or study for midterms the following week. Others, like the participants on this Outdoor Adventures Fall Break, chose to go coastal kayaking along the shores of Texas in Port O’ Connor and camp on the beach at Matagorda Island!
Leaving that Sunday of Fall Break, my assistant trip leader, Hunter Higgins,
three participants, and myself left for Port Lavaca, Texas at 7:00 am.
The drive down was worrisome as it rained and poured for most of the drive down to
the city. The weather reports were showing that the rain would keep on
coming throughout the trip, but we kept our fingers crossed and hoped that things would get better once we reached Port Lavaca.
Once we arrived in Port Lavaca, we got our first glimpse of the ocean.
Because of the rain, there was an eerie fog out over the water, and so we went
out onto a pier to get better idea of what it looked like out there. Once
on the pier, the fog lifted and we were presented with a beautiful horizon, one where there was nothing but ocean and sky. After taking this little break, we took down one of the kayaks from our trailer and did some brief lessons in a protected beach area. We covered the basic strokes and some of the safety issues if the kayak flipped. Even though one participant decided that he liked his kayak upside down, everyone did an amazing job getting the strokes down and I could not wait to see everyone in action the next day.
With the sun beginning to rise that Monday, we broke down our camp and loaded up our van and trailer and made the 40 minute drive to Port O’ Connor. Once there, we were told by one of the locals that the possibility of rain was a mere 10%! For the first time all weekend, the worry of facing stormy winds while kayaking was lifted from the group. From here on out, everyone was excited to be spending the night on the beach. After loading the kayaks and getting out to the ocean, we followed our trail at a leisurely pace as we had the wind to our back and not a care in the world. Eventually, we would arrive in our camp site, and from 1:00-6:00, our schedule consisted of the following…
1:00-2:00 set up camp
2:00-3:00 play in the waves
3:00-4:00 sun bathe
After a fine dinner, we all gathered together and shared how thankful we all were that we had this opportunity to connect with ourselves again as the weeks of school had taken much of our personal time away from us. As one participant said, it was the first time all semester that she was not worried about her homework, her job, and her cellphone for a long time. That night, we all went to bed to the sounds of the waves crashing and the sad realization that we would have to leave in the morning.
After waking up and fighting away the mosquitoes, we broke down camp one last time and loaded up the kayaks. After a tough but satisfying paddle back to the mainland, we loaded up the kayaks, had a great beach lunch, and then began our journey back to Dallas, knowing that even though tests, papers, and homework awaited us, we still had that one weekend of pure, unending peace and relaxation.
On the morning of Saturday, October 8, nine eager participants showed up on Saturday morning at the Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports to learn the basics of fly fishing. First
we went through a “ground school” of sorts where we covered basic fly
fishing gear and knots. After learning as much as possible through listening, watching
and practicing, we went outside to learn how to cast with an actual fly rod.
Although we were beset with a heavy wind the participants still learnt a load
about casting on the grass just outside the Dedman center. Once an hour had
passed, everyone loaded up into the van and we drove to White Rock Lake. We had
a very welcome sack lunch near the lake. When we had cleaned up after lunch we
took our rods and headed for the lake. The wind off of the lake proved to be
too much to allow for proper casting, which really emphasized how important it
is to watch the wind before proper fly fishing.
Many of those who attended the clinic expressed a desire to participate in more SMU OA trips.
SMU OA Trip Leader
On the morning of September 18, 2011, eight adventurers set out for
Whiteright, TX to do the unthinkable. Jump out of a perfectly good plane
(if such a thing exists)
Beginning at 7 AM in the morning, we headed up to the local Skydive Dallas, where we
began our long tedious journey of paperwork that would allow us to jump.
Afterwards, we practiced and perfected our body placements for the jump, making
sure our backs were arched and our legs perfectly positioned.
One by one, we began to put on the ridiculous jump suits and met up with our
prospective jump guide. Mine had already done over 1,000 jumps in his
life, so one more was just a walk in the park. After getting teamed up
and taking some wicked pictures, we proceeded to the plane, where we were
flown over 12,000 feet up into the air and then told to jump. Now, there
is nothing that goes against instinct more than jumping out of a plane, but
when you are attached to the hip (literally) of a professional, it becomes a
Once out of the plane, the noise is incredible. Free falling at 120 mph really
puts things is prospective. Then, after 60 seconds of free fall, there
was silence, as the parachute came out and the world was laid plain for me to
see. There is really nothing like falling out of plane and looking around
for miles and miles without anything beneath your feet. After 2
minutes of gliding gently to the ground, it was time to leave the sky behind
and come back down to planet earth. Too bad I had to study that night for
a test the next day, because my head was in the clouds the rest of the weekend.
Outdoor Adventures Trip Leader
WOOOOO!!!!! Goes the camper on the zip Line. Again and again and again and again. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday in New York Texas and we here at SMU Outdoor Adventures wholeheartedly agree, for that is exactly what we did the weekend of September the 24th 2011. We rolled out of SMU bright and early with 6 participants and hit the highway and the county roads all the way out to the scenic, east Texas hilltop home out of which GoZIP Texas is based. A brief, literal, crash course later, we stepped off the side of the hill on to the first of many tree-top platforms and away we went! Riding slow, short lines across the hill, getting longer and faster until we encountered the main event! The 900 and 800 foot lines. Needless to say these were the most ” Wooooo!! ”-inspiring of all. We all got to play the parts of various speedy flying things as we rode. I was a rocket ship. Grubby and wind-blown is how we returned to our base followed by a fabulous turkey-ham-cheese-mustard-mayo bagel lunch overlooking the tree-filled valleys, some of which were showing the first signs of fall! With the end of our leisurely mid-day sustenance session we determined that it was time to leave that beautiful place for SMU. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday, not bad at all.
Connor Flynn, Trip Leader.
SMU Climbing Wall’s first bouldering competition is coming up on Saturday, October 22, from 8:45 am-4:30 pm. Two competitive sessions are available: early bird (8:45 am -12:00 pm) and sleepy head (11:45 am -3:30 pm). Slacklining going on all day. Door prizes and awards immediately following the last climbing session.
Come on out and support your local climbers for this fun event. More information can be found at http://smu.edu/recsports/adventure/climbingwall/vertigo.asp
A Brief Glimpse at Flight
This past Saturday (April 2) a few SMU members along with myself settled down in the van for a drive to New York, TX for a day of zip lining. We arrived at the location fairly early, and had plenty of time to take in the gorgeous view from atop that small mountain. Soon, it was time to put on our harnesses and take a brief class on how not to crash into trees, and away we went. The first couple of lines were fairly short, but I’m sure that was just to give everyone a few practices at breaking and slowing down before we got to the big 800 and 900 foot lines! Those were a couple pretty incredible rides. We were up near the tops of the trees, watching the scenery pass by beneath us. It was truly a breathtaking experience! After our “flights”, we sat down on this amazing patio outlook and had a nice picnic lunch with a view of the country. We still returned to SMU at 2 o’clock; not a bad way to start out a day!
Stephen Hayden, SMU OA Trip Leader
What is grand, red, deep, orange and brown, with cacti all over?
The Grand Canyon of course! Just this last spring break, six SMU students and 3 SMU alums decided to spend their Spring Break testing their mental and physical strength as they backpacked down, through, and back up the Grand Canyon on a 6 day trek. And I’m happy to say they were not disappointed.
All of us were tested in just the first two days, and it was not because of the Canyon, but because of the 16 hour drive. Over the course of two days of travel, we all got to know each other very well…almost too well sitting in the 12 passenger van. Finally though, we reached the Grand Canyon, and the view over the rim into the canyon was incredible. Everyone was getting excited for the hike to begin!
So, on Monday afternoon, we descended into the canyon with our first campsite to be the glorious Horseshoe Mesa. Our hike was only to be 2 1/2 miles, but in those two miles, we dropped almost 2600 feet. Not to mention, we were greeted on the trail by thick layers of ice that made the trail slightly treacherous, especially when you are carrying a 50 pound backpack. The instep crampons helped though. As we hikers tend to do, we braved the decent and were treated to a glorious night full of delicious backcountry cuisines and a bright, nearly full moon that followed us through the week.
On Tuesday, we hiked nearly 6 miles to a secluded spot along the Grapevine Creek, where we would spend the next two days. Here, we were able to relax and converse along the creek as we began to really come closer as a group. Also, many people took the opportunity to get some sun in, read, or simply explore the area. We even took a day hike down the creek and got to see what it looked like to be really deep within the canyon itself. Some participants even decided to take a quick dunk in the creek, just to see what it was like.
After our break, we took off once more, this time headed for long tree canyon. I hate to say it, but there happened to be a multitude of trees…well at least things that looked like trees. Again, we enjoyed the view of the canyon and even got to spend some time with some hikers from the University of Arizona who gladly shared some of their delicious food with us. Again, we enjoyed some delicious foods as we watched the moon ascend into the sky and enjoyed the glorious view of the canyons still surrounding us. We even got together to play some epic games of cards until we could no longer stay awake.
The last day was spent getting prepared for the long hike out of the canyon. We tried to get as close to the starting climb as possible…well, almost too close. Most of us decided to sleep outside that night. We woke up at 6:00 and began our long journey back to the rim of the canyon. From the bottom to the top, we climbed around 4-5 miles in distance and 3200 ft. in height. All the way, day hikers were encouraging us, telling us we were just about there. So, after 4 hours of hiking, we finally reached the top! Looking back down we could see where we had just camped and we could not be any more proud of our accomplishment of hiking through the Grand Canyon!
After getting everyone back in the van, we all took the shower we deserved and satisfied our hunger with a little grub from a real restaurant. Then, we began our journey back home to Dallas, and sadly, back to the reality of the front country. I know though, as I’m sure everyone on the trip knows, that this trip will always live within us, and it will always be a great reminder of what a group of 10 people can actually accomplish.
Outdoor Adventures Trip Leader
This past weekend SMU Outdoor Adventures hosted a Wilderness First Aid course. This 2-day course is offered through the National Outdoor Leadership School’s Wilderness Medicine Institute. The 25 person course included a rather diverse group of participants. Several travelled from Houston or even as far away as Oklahoma for this course. Our up-beat and well-qualified instructors were Asa Pape and Jacob Wallace, who WMI sent to facilitate the course travelling from Montana and Seattle. One of our administrators, Albert Mitugo, participated in the course in order to re-certify his Wilderness First Responder. SMU OA Staff Members Connor Flynn, Mandy Trexel, and I also earned WFA certifications this weekend.
I really enjoyed the structure of the course. Each lesson began in the classroom setting, with one instructor introducing the topic. Once they had explained the topic and shown us the skills, we moved from the classroom setting to a hands-on approach. We were expected to put the skills into practice, which was a very effective teaching style. It gave us an opportunity to understand the material and to work the practices into our muscle memory. As the saying goes, “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”
This was also where our instructors had a little fun. About half of our course took place outside, working with a partner who pretended to be injured. Some of these “patients” where quite convincing, especially covered in fake bruises, cuts, and scrapes. In fact, one or two passersby stopped to try and help because they thought we were actually injured!
Over the course of the weekend, we learned basic emergency protocol for emergency situations, including how to assess a patient, take vitals, clean and dress a wound, create a splint, tape a sprained ankle, deal with dislocated joints, treat a burn, and much, much more. We learned the signs and symptoms, treatments, and prevention of conditions such as altitude sickness, heat exhaustion, anaphylaxis, hypothermia, and shock. Before we left, they showed us how to prepare a good first aid kit. They also gave us a chance to see and purchase some WMI merchandise at their little, traveling mini-mart, which several participants greatly appreciated.
All-in-all it was a fast-paced, intense two days, but we all had a great time, learned a ton of valuable information, and are now Wilderness First Aid certified!
By Jordan Lee.
“Do you hear that”? I said. “Nope”, he replied. Complete silence, what an interesting concept it seemed to be after considering the amount of noise that we ignore everyday in the city. After being surrounded by sirens, construction noise, car noises, and other air pollutants, you don’t quite remember how much you appreciate silence until you are engulfed by it. The Winter Backpack Trip last February to Ouachita National Forest provided all the silence and refreshing comforts necessary after a long winter of ice storms. We started with a five hour drive to the trailhead at Billy Creek Trail near Muse, OK. After divvying up group gear and food we started our 4 mile hike. The weather was great in the mid 60s during the day and mid 40s to 50s during the night. Along the way we encountered great views looking down into the valley of the Ouachita National forest as well as many nice creeks and rivers. We stayed at a nice campground that night after a satisfying day of hiking and made chicken quesadillas and told stories around the fire pit until the stars came out. The next day we woke up and completed our short hike back to the van. While the trip was short, I think everyone in the group could appreciate how sweet it was.
Brendan Nelson, Trip Leader.