SMU Outdoor Adventures

SMU Outdoor Adventures offers recreational trips and outdoor skills workshops from its “base camp” at the Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports.

Spring break 2011: Grand Canyon

An update from Jeremy, Outdoor Adventures trip leader:

See a slideshow of their trip.

Canyon-01-thumb.jpg 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 2,600 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 descent 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 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 3,200 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.


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Hiking in New Mexico; skydiving in Dallas

An update from Outdoor Adventures on their Summer 2009 trips and Fall 2009 schedule:

Hilltop.jpg Photos are posted of SMU’s first Hilltop Scholars Program Expedition, a six-day summer backpacking trip in the Sangre De Cristo mountain range of New Mexico.

Eighteen students from across the country drove to SMU-in-Taos on July 19, then entered the backcountry on July 20. For six days, they faced personal and physical challenges; experienced and overcame the out-of-control; laughed and maybe even cried; felt exultation, fear, humility, and gratitude; gained friendship; built community; made discoveries, became self-aware, experienced nature; witnessed beauty and danger; and created memories.

On July 25, 18 very different individuals emerged from the wilds. Now they were a group of SMU Hilltop Scholars.

Some comments from participants after the trip:

“If you want to experience amazing views, become a leader at SMU before even stepping on campus, and make great new friends, this is the place to go. Be ready for a challenge, a challenge that I enjoyed every step of the way … WOOOOOOOT!”

“This trip made me push myself outside of my comfort zone, emotionally and physically. But that made the reward all the greater, especially while getting to know and make friends with great students and faculty.”

“This trip has helped me realize that my first year in college is going to be an exciting time full of friendship and adversity, and that fighting through challenges with friends is so much better than being alone on the journey.”

See more Hilltop Scholar Expedition photos on Outdoor Adventures’ Flickr page.


Also see photos of our summer skydiving trip.

And check our schedule for Fall 2009.


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Hiking in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park

An update from Rebecca on Outdoor Adventures’ 2009 Spring Break trip:

See more photos here.

We left early the first Saturday morning of Spring Break. This trip was lead by Albert canyonpic1.jpg
and Monti, who are SMU Outdoor Adventures staff. The participants were Rebecca, Jamila, Stefanie, Douglas, Sydni, Katrina, Reagan, Briana and Will. We were a group of strangers looking for a new adventure. We drove eight hours the first day through fierce winds until we reached Santa Rosa in New Mexico. In Santa Rosa we went across the street to eat a group dinner. The trip was off to a good start!

The next morning we woke up and drove eight more hours to reach the beautiful canyonlands. The more we drove, the more beautiful the scenery became. When we entered Canyonlands National Park, the entire van got silent; everyone was captivated by the beauty of the desert in contrast with the snow-covered mountain tops. In fact, I think that it is the only time the van was silent the entire trip.

The first night we camped, we had an awesome fire and amazing s’mores! It was a good night for the group to get to know one another and just relax after a long day of driving.

Out on the trail

The next morning we woke up bright and early, and Albert taught us how to pack our backpacks and drove to the sqaw flats road head. Then we set out on the lost canyon trail.

We hiked for a while and then branched off to the Peekaboo trail. The first day was the most challenging and most rewarding. We hiked 8.5 miles up over the canyon until we got down into it to camp. At one point we were standing on a giant rock, and all we could see was nature all around us; it was the most breathtaking 360-degree view that I have ever seen.

canyonlandsnowpic.jpg By the end of the day we were physically exhausted – some of us had faced our fears, and all of us had experienced something new together. As a group, we decided to change the plans. We decided that we would camp and enjoy the world around us, rather than be so exhausted we were miserable.

That night it snowed; some people even woke up with ice in their hair. It was a snow-covered desert; cacti were covered in snow.

Paul Bunyan’s potty

We then went on a really enjoyable day hike to Paul Bunyan’s potty that included animal tracking and print interpretation. Paul Bunyan’s potty is a massive rock formation with a hole in the middle. The National Park had a sense of humor because they put an outhouse right next to it.

We then walked back to camp and relaxed, read, had a yoga class led by Katrina, and had personal reflection canyonlandpic3.jpg time for the rest of the day.

Then on Wednesday we woke up and strapped our backpacks on for the hike to a new campsite. We hiked 3 miles that day and found great camping right inside the park boundaries. We enjoyed a good meal and the company of one another and learned how to read and interpret topographic maps, while a runner team of four people hiked five more miles to retrieve the van.

Showers in Santa Rosa

Thursday morning we all headed to the van early after hiking a short 1.5 miles. We drove the eight hours back to Santa Rosa and were all SO thrilled to get hot showers and good meal! We all slept great that night.

We all learned a lot about the outdoors and had to be flexible with the elements. Living out of a backpack for those days was quite an experience. Nature is the one thing people can never dictate. It was a week of new experiences, triumphs, exhaustion, and struggles. The pictures cannot even begin to do the trip and the beauty of it all justice. We all returned safe, and that is all we could have asked for!

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Ice climbing in Colorado

An update from SMU Outdoor Adventurers on their ice climbing trip January 30-February 1, 2009, in Alamosa, Colorado: (See more photos)

iceclimbing1.jpg It’s not common to see a van load of Texans in Colorado … oh, who am I kidding? Yeah, it is. But maybe not a van load intending to do what this van load was intending to do.

SMU OA trip staff, David Chambers, Dexter Jacobs and Ryan Davis packed up and headed to Colorado on Friday, January 30, with SMU students Daniel, Ben, Darren and brother Noel, and alums Eddie, Todd and Collin. Our goal: ice climb as much as possible in two days and get back to SMU “not so late” on Monday, February 2.

iceclimbing8.jpg After pushing a long 16-hour day on Friday, we finally pulled into the “Dirty Mo,” as Alamosa is pleasantly referred to by students at Adam State University, our destination and base camp for the weekend. Upon arrival, we met up with a good friend and Adams’ Outdoor Adventure Coordinator, Mick, to get checked into our dorm rooms and take a quick look at downtown “Mo” for dinner.

We woke early the next day to get outfitted with snowshoes, plastic boots, crampons and ice tools and headed for our first climbing destination, North Clear Creek, near Creed. The sun was shining and the temperature pleasant for late January in Colorado (AM temps 15-17 F).

Surprisingly enough, we had a 2-mile snowshoe into the small, beautiful slot canyon, which helped to fight off the cold temperatures. We reached our spot with three set lines over beautiful cascading ice. The sun gradually faded behind the rim of the canyon and things began to get cold, but as soon as our short introductory skills clinic was over, we hit the ice and didn’t stop for six hours!

The Coloradans commented that it was ok ice, but to us, it was perfect. You could actually see the runningiceclimbing5.jpg water beneath the frozen surface, making you think twice about slamming your ice tool into it. We crawled out of the canyon just as the sun was setting and were able to catch that magical picture provided by the light at dusk with blue sky – with the silhouette of the Rockies and snow-covered ground as the canvas.

We eventually got packed up, but it was going to be too late to catch dinner in Alamosa with a two-hour ride back, so we headed into Creed and found the only joint open serving food at 8 pm. Upon arrival back in “Dirty Mo” at 11+, we were all too exhausted to resist the bunks, so we headed for bed with another early wake-up on Sunday.

As has become the routine, we met early, loaded up, packed up and jumped into the van for the drive down to South Fork for coffee and this time up into Wolf Creek pass to a site with a little better access.

A short snowshoe in, and we were at the bottom of the cliffs with three great-looking falls at our fingertips. It was “kids hopped up on chocolate at Pump It Up” from there on. We climbed until we couldn’t kick crampons into the ice anymore or your hands were numb from the cold and “screaming” from pain caused by lack of blood flow and constant slamming into the ice with the ice tool.

As we rounded off another day of 6 hours worth of ice climbing, we took a few parting shots and headed for the van. We headed for the “Dirty Mo” one last time and headed into the “lively” downtown for food and to catch the end of the Super Bowl. The crew packed up on Monday with temperatures hovering around 6 F, warm for the Dirty Mo this time of year. We gassed and coffee-ed up and started the long trip back to SMU.

Before the day was done, we would go from down jackets and fleece to short sleeves as we pulled into Dallas around 7 that evening. No matter the marathon weekend and total drive of 36 hours in a van. No matter that we probably won’t remember who won the Super Bowl in two years anyway. No matter the missed commitments and work. We had ice climbing fever and it will be a long time before that scenery, aching calves, painful hands, and big smiles escape our memories.

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Fall Backpacking Trip

PB140033.jpg Photos are in from SMU Outdoor Adventures’ Fall Backpacking Trip in November.

Start planning now for Spring 2009 Outdoor Adventures:

SMU OA At the Flagpole: Jan 21-22
Colorado Ice Climbing ($285): Jan 30-Feb 2
Backpacking 101 Workshop (2 evening class with Overnight): TBA
Overnight Backpacking: Feb 13-15
White Water Kayaking Class (multiple days with day trip): TBA
Canyonlands National Park Spring Break ($249): March 7-13
Wilderness First Aid ($185): March 21-22
PCIA Climbing Wall Instructor Course ($218): March 27-29
Inner Space Caving Trip: April 4
Staying Found-Land Navigation Workshop: TBA
Skydiving ($189): April 10
Top Rope Anchors Workshop: April 17 (evening)-18
Overnight Canoe/Kayak Trip: April 25-26
Rock Climbing Day Trip: April 25

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Sea kayaking to Matagorda Island

An update from David on Outdoor Adventures’ Fall Break sea kayak trip to Matagorda Island, Texas:

This trip was an adventure for many reasons. Specifically, OA Trips had never gone to this location. So the planning and logistics were considerably more difficult.

Our jumping-off point of Port O’Connor (POC), Texas, had only a few sea kayaking references, maps contacts or published information. It was only by luck that we found Chris at Central Marina in POC. He directed us to resources and maps of the area that we could legitimately utilize for the trip.

We found out that there were a number of kayaking trails through the smaller islands directly out to Matagorda. A good sign. So right from the get-go, this trip would be interesting. Combine our lack of information with possible affects of Hurricane Ike a month earlier, and we really weren’t sure what to expect.

Long road to Lake Texana
Christina, Iana, Tommy and Zeng were the “guinea pigs” on this new trip led by OA Trip Leaders Dexter and David. The trip took an unfortunate turn down the wrong road when we followed MapQuest directions to our first night’s camping at Lake Texana State Park, our layover point for the push to POC the next day. We were provided directions through Houston with 5.5 hours of driving to get to our destination. Not knowing any better, we followed these directions, and to our disappointment, arrived 10 hours later at beautiful Lake Texana. Rumors had it that Houston was a traffic “vortex” of disappointment. Already, this trip is proving to be difficult.

At Lake Texana State Park, we set up our camp for the night and decided to use the remaining daylight to take the group out for some quick sea kayaking instruction in preparation for the unknown paddle distance and duration to Matagorda Island the next day. Except for the warning signs exclaiming, “Watch out for alligators,” the lake was a perfect spot to demonstrate the ill effects of wind and waves on sea kayaking in the back of our minds, Dexter and I were hoping that this is the worst it would get. To our relief, no real problems from our practice session and no lost appendages to hungry alligators.

After dinner, the group crowded around our comforting, albeit small, campfire telling stories and playing mindgames. As the time wore on, we eventually called it a night and hit the ol’ sleeping bags – the evening too warm to get in the bags.

On to Port O’Connor
Day 2, Sunday, we packed up camp, made ready with our gear and sped for POC, a mere 1.5 hours away, dutifully watching the wind. The day started and would remain beautifully sunny, but as we approached our put-in, we noticed the wind gradually picking up to an estimated 15 mph. We hurriedly packed the boats and prepared to get on the water. At 12:30, we were off.

Our first obstacle of the day would be crossing the Inter-Coastal Waterway (ICW), a manmade canal for large boat traffic. My experience with the ICW from the East Coast involved huge tankers and freighters making their way up and down the coast using the ICW as a protected travel route. In POC, it was only about 100 yards wide and served mostly pleasure and fishing boats and the occasional tug and barge.

Regardless, it is not a good place to hang out, as these bigger boats can’t stop quickly. So we paddled hard through the choppy waves to our inlet, where we would follow the small inlets and shores of smaller islands.

Matagorda Island has a long and interesting history, which I recommend you look up and read yourself. For our purposes, just know that it is a combination of islands, marshes and dunes with channels cut through for small boat traffic. The islands are uninhabited except for the occasional cattle and abandoned fish camps.

Our destination, Matagorda Island, is the larger barrier island and borders the Gulf. It was once a Texas state park and is now managed by the federal fish and wildlife department.

As we paddled close to the smaller barrier islands, careful not to get too far into the boating lanes, we saw plentiful sea birds, including pelicans, sea gulls, cranes and an osprey that we were lucky to watch fish in the waterways around us. Once we crossed out of the smaller channels, we passed a now-abandoned Coast Guard station platform worn from the weather and sea, and popped into Matagorda Bay where the winds and waves really picked up.

All ashore
We had to hug the shore until we reached our destination, Sunday Beach on the thumb of Matagorda Island. At about 4:30, we reached our destination for the night … total hours paddling, 4; estimated mileage, 7.

As we stepped out on the island, we couldn’t help but notice several groups of people and families on the beach. It seems that this area is frequented by pleasure boaters. Almost immediately upon landing, we walked the 100 yards across the island to the Gulf of Mexico. Another surprise waited as we scanned the beach … trash everywhere. Not just the occasional paper plate or plastic water bottle, but debris such as large tree trunks, furniture, toys and a huge cylinder as big as a small house. You could definitely tell the island had felt the affects of Hurricane Ike.

After some frolicking in the Gulf, we headed back to our boats to unload and prepare our camp. Unfortunately the wind had continued to increase, and sand blew freely everywhere. Having seen the SMU emblem on our boats, a family introduced themselves to our group. Turned out, the husband was an SMU graduate from 1969, having spent the day on the island with his wife and two granddaughters. Just goes to show you, SMU has an extensive “reach.”

Sand, more sand and coyotes
We set up our kitchen as best we could, out of the wind and blowing sand. We found a relatively protected area in the dunes to set up our tents. As the group explored the island, we managed to strike up a conversation with the last of the pleasure boaters, curious about what we were doing out on this island in boats with no motors. They informed us of the islands current inhabitants … coyotes and feral hogs, lots of them.

Personally, I would prefer to go up against a black bear than a wild hog. Hogs are known for their anger and tenacity. Regardless, we would prep the best we could and make sure to keep an eye out for any unwanted visitors.

08%20fall%20sea%20kayak%202.jpgAfter a sandy meal of spaghetti, sardines and smoked oysters (we are on the coast), we built a nice fire beach-side and enjoyed the full moon, stars and lights of the town in the distance. It was a great feeling to be alone in such a place. As it got later, we all began to feel the day’s paddle and decided to head for the tents.

A few brave souls decided it was better to sleep outside with the moon and consistent sound of crashing waves and wind. Those who stayed in the tents were not any better off as the wind continued to hurl sand into every opening. One thing is evident, when camping on the beach; you just have to learn to love the sand because there is no getting away from it.

The next morning, a few woke early to witness an uninterrupted sunrise. As the sky in the east went from bluish gray to pink and orange, we enjoyed the serenity of it all with only the sound of waves and wind. We strolled to the boats only to find that the coyotes had discovered our food storage in the bulkheads of the kayaks. The little buggers even scratched off the hatch covers to get inside. We must have spooked them early enough as luckily, no food was lost.

After breakfast, we decided to hit the water and paddle back to POC in hopes of getting back before the afternoon winds picked up and made things difficult. Good fortune was on our side as the wind was now at our backs and the previous day’s 4-hour paddle only took 3.

Along the way, we took our time and had a little fun exploring some inlets and an abandoned houseboat. At one point, a bottlenose dolphin rose for air not 15 feet from our boats. Literally, we could see its eyes. We reached our take-out point just as the winds began to pick up for the afternoon, and the waves occasionally would break across the kayak cockpits.

Home for a shower … and sleep
As we unloaded the boats and loaded the van and trailer, we reflected and reminisced about the last couple of days. But before the trip could end, we decided to explore the local cuisine for lunch in Port Lavaca at a little Mexican seafood place. Because we had made such good time, the group decided it would be great to get a shower and sleep without sand. So we pointed the van north and drove through the afternoon, evening and night to arrive back at SMU.

Matagorda Island is a beautiful place, and the paddle to and from can be intimidating. But the experience was overwhelmingly gorgeous. It is a definite return location for future OA Trips. The island would be great to explore, so next time, we will balance the long drive and hopefully spend 2 nights on the island.

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Hang-gliding in Oklahoma

PA040003-sm.jpgAn update from David on Outdoor Adventures’ October hang-gliding trip in Oklahoma:

It started as any other Saturday, if waking before 6 am and getting home around 1 is a typical Saturday. SMU OA trip leaders Danni and Dexter took the “barely awake” group consisting of Guy, Whitney, Fernanda, Perry, Jon and Ian to Lawton, Oklahoma, for a day of riding the thermals … Oklahoma-style.

Oklahoma-style hang-gliding is a little different from what most people visualize. No mountains or large hills, just flat Oklahoma farmland, a straight deserted road and a flat-bed Ford with an odd contraption on the back. Because there isn’t much to stop the “winds coming down the plains,” this area is ideal for hang-gliding.

PA040002-sm.jpgAfter a short ground school where participants get fitted and instructed in what and why, the instructor straps himself and the participant to a “kite” on the back of the flat-bed. The truck then starts down the road, and eventually, at about 20 mph, the “kite” is let loose from the contraption and begins to float into the air on a cable. When the “kite” gets up to 1500-2000 feet, they unhook the cable and the “kite,” instructor and participant glide back to a landing area.

The weather for the day started nicely, but high winds kept the group grounded for a short period of time. Of course, in the wilds of Oklahoma, this may seem like an eternity. Eventually, everyone got a chance to “float like a butterfly,” and gladly, no “stings like a bee” this time.

The long drive back (think a total of 8 hours in a vehicle to and from the location) was interrupted with a stop at a local restaurant on Hwy 82 & 287 for dinner. A long day, to say the least, but full of memories.

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A good day for rock climbing

An update from David Chambers on Outdoor Adventures’ September rock-climbing day trip (see photos here):

SMU OA has been doing trips to Mineral Wells State Park since its conception, but for some reason, this was one of the “memorable” ones. It probably had to do with the group and the circumstances.

We had a good group mix this trip with students Connor, Yulay, Katrina, Gabe, Sara and SMU faculty Denis Bettaver and Piotr Chelstowski. We love to have faculty and staff on our trips. The group was a good mix of “did it before” to “never haves.” This is the ideal kind of mix because it means we can set many different climbs for a variety of skill levels … our preferred method of programming at Mineral Wells because we never know what will be available on nice weekends, as explained later.

SMU OA trip leaders Dexter Jacobs and David Chambers with technical rock support from Angellia Chandler met the group bright and early that morning with the intention of getting to our destination early enough to beat as many of the other groups as possible. The group showed up in good time and better attitude … ready for some climbing.

Like I said, the group was good and the circumstances turned out great. Upon our arrival, we found out that no groups were ahead of us and we would pretty much have the crag to ourselves that morning. Since MWSP is the closest crag to DFW and North Texas in general, weekends are usually a madhouse of Boy and Girl Scout groups, college and high school programs, church groups, and private climbers. But this day was different.

When asked about what we can expect that day, the rangers pointed out that the weekend prior, over 500 Boy Scouts camped the Friday before. Most groups come to MWSP for the climbing so you can imagine the crowd that would have been in this limited climbing area.

With the help of Angellia, we were able to claim our routes with no other competition in sight. This allowed us to enjoy our climbing with ease. Of course as the day went on, more and more climbers showed up, but realistically, we couldn’t ask for the abundance of available routes. In addition, the weather would make a climber “giddy” with delight. Again, this kind of weather brings out the climbing community in droves, but I guess we picked the right weekend.

Everyone started climbing on relatively easy routes but soon progressed to more challenging climbs. The most impressive thing was not that everyone “made it to the top” of every climb. Instead it was the perseverance and effort made by all to try the best they could. For his first time climbing, ever, Yulay was tackling 5.8-5.9 climbs. Denis was getting back into the harness after a long departure and continued to execute really good moves. Connor, Katrina and Sara all pushed their strength to a new level.

By the end, everyone felt like they had rock climbed that day. And we still made it back to Dallas before the Cowboys games.

Yeah, it was a good day.

Note: Sign up for the Winter Break ski and snowboard trip to the Wolf Creek Ski Area in Colorado.

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Skydiving Round 2

An update from David Chambers on SMU Outdoor Adventures’ September skydiving trip (see more photos here):

P9210038.jpgYou couldn’t ask for a better day … cool morning with promises of sunshine and temperatures only reaching the upper 80s. Not a typical Texas “summer” day.

Our group of brave souls – Christina, Judith, Morgan, Nicole, Rebecca, Daniel, Robin and his sister Alice and Emily and her father David with OA staff Dexter Jacobs and David Chambers – headed for our rendezvous with what many felt was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: a chance to tease gravity, that impeccable and consistent force of nature.

“Once in a lifetime” was a common response when asked, “Why?” Ah, to be so innocent. Yes, it may be a once in a lifetime opportunity, but did it occur to anyone it could the “last of a lifetime?”

P9200006.jpgWe had no worries as our outfitters, Skydive Dallas, is well equipped and capable of handling the likes of us … thrill seekers, “bucket list” achievers, and naive consumers of this thing that keeps us all on the surface of the earth.

Regardless of my ramblings, it was not very long after our arrival that we entered the “classroom” for our briefing on what to expect this day. After watching a video designed to both entertain and warn us of the possible but improbable impending doom and loss of life, we were on the floor practicing our “exit” maneuvers, and getting some laughs.

P9200022.jpgBefore we knew it, a knock on the door informed us that our first group needed to get ready to jump. Had we seen enough of the video? Did we practice enough to secure muscle memory? Is there anything else they want to let me know before it’s too late? Probably, but we had a schedule to keep.

P9200026.jpgOur fears and apprehensions were soon replaced by excitement. By twos and threes, our group left the ground and then, as if by magic, floated, albeit some more gracefully than others, to the ground. A chance to race at 120 mph toward the ground, the breeze in your hair (and teeth, and nose, etc), the peace of a floating canopy, the gradual left, then right, then left, and right as you glide to a landing.

Many people ask what it’s like. I don’t think there are words to adequately explain it, at least to my knowledge. It is one of those things you need to experience for yourself.

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Look out below!

P7180018.jpgAn update from David on Outdoor Adventures’ first skydiving trip:

Consisting mostly of SMU alumni, our OA Trips group took off for SkyDive Dallas’ location on Saturday, July 19, for folks’ first taste of “pure freedom.”

SkyDive Dallas runs one of the only North Texas operations, and what a class act. Not knowing what to expect (Bubba with a bi-plane and few chutes?), we were very impressed with the operations. From a very friendly atmosphere and people to the open facilities and private airfield, SkyDive Dallas was great. You would almost assume that skydivers would be a little “elite,” but the folks there treated us very well and were extremely friendly.

Our group was to enter ground school at 9 am, so we ended up leaving SMU around 7:45 am. After ground school, two members (only two tandem jumps per flight) were scheduled on the Otter jump plan.

P7180016.jpgWe made plans to meet up with two SMU OA alum who had made trips to the Grand Canyon and Fiji. They are avid skydivers with over 200 jumps between them. It was great to have them there. They answered many questions and provided some comfort and input for everyone. Of course, they weren’t just there to socialize and put in two jumps each that day.

P7180026.jpgAfter a while, Marshall and Steve were called back to get ready. They met their instructors and were briefly schooled in jump form and position. As we nervously watched them go to the pick-up area, the anxiousness began to hit everyone. As they got airborne, Albert and Young were called back. Next, Jeff and Margaret made their way to get suited up and ready.

It wasn’t long before we heard the roar of the Otter above us, barely visible at 12K+ feet above. But soon, little dots would stream out from behind the plane and eventually, whoosh; you could hear the chutes open. As our jumpers made their turns and sweeps high above the ground, eventually landing safely back on earth, smiles were everywhere. Our group couldn’t get enough, so many paid the discounted 2nd jump rate to get another.

P7190028.jpgBy 4pm, the heat, sun and adrenaline were enough. We packed up and headed back to SMU with memories that will truly be for a lifetime.

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