2024 Spring Break Trip

It was a cold Sunday morning at the start of Spring Break. Gathering in the Outdoor Adventures lobby at 5:00am with sleepy eyes, we loaded into Rafiki and the Peruna truck looking forward to a change of scenery when we woke up from naps in the vehicles (except for our fearless drivers, of course!). Embarking on the long drive out of Texas, the city skyline slowly morphed into ranches with cattle and eventually became long, seemingly never-ending plains of grass. After 10 hours, mountains emerged from the distance to reveal the base of the Rockies as we entered New Mexico. Snow-covered peaks atop imposing mountains surrounded us as we arrived at our first campground of the trip at Bandelier National Monument.

Participants immediately disembarked the vehicles after arriving, eager to finally stretch their legs, breathe the crisp mountain air, and take in the scenery. The leaders gave a quick demonstration on Setting Up a Tent 101, and participants caught on quickly, building their tents in record time. The leaders (Levi, Dr. Mitugo-Tuggs, and I) whipped up some rice and lentils for the group and utilized all containers of the spice kit per the request of the participants. The result was the finest instant rice and lentils in all the land! Eager to stay warm, participants constructed a fire. Levi and I proposed making s’mores to accompany the fire – a proposition which initially piqued the interest of only two people… Once the s’mores materials were out, however, participants flocked to try making their own – many of whom it was their first time ever making them. It was clearly a success, as participants fought over possession of the marshmallow bag and skewers and were left in awe at the joy of making s’mores. Preserving our heat from the fire, we headed to our sleeping bags and spent our first night out in nature.

The next day, participants woke up to build-your-own bagels that rivaled Shug’s. After refueling ourselves, we broke down camp and headed to the Grand Canyon South Rim. The drive on this day was a journey: starting off in the quaint mountains of New Mexico, we traversed across more flat plains, entered into awe-inspiring mesa deserts, and finally made it to the park after dark where the Grand Canyon had disappeared into the night. However, the next morning, we led participants to see the sunrise from Mather Point in hopes of a majestic reveal of the illusive canyon. Errant clouds impaired our view of the full sunrise, but we nonetheless saw rays of orange and purple sun cast upon the deep walls of the canyon, which made for quite a picturesque moment!

Once back at camp, the group made pancakes and brewed some Chai to fully awaken ourselves for the day ahead. With our bellies full of food, we packed back in the vehicles to drive along the rim of the Grand Canyon, stopping at various points of interest. After seeing the Navajo Point and Watchtower, we headed to a parking lot nestled in the forest to hike ~2 miles to Shoshone Point, a less popular destination for tourists but arguably the best vantage point of the entire South Rim. As we set out, the dense forest seemed as if it would never end, almost like we were heading away from the canyon! However, the canyon eventually emerged from the trees, and a cliff that offered 360-degree, panoramic views of the canyon came into sight. Hiking over to the jaunting cliff, we took in the unobstructed, breathtaking views of the canyon while eating some gourmet sandwiches we had packed for lunch. For the rest of the day, we individually explored the Grand Canyon South Rim Village. Some participants chose to get in a much-needed shower; I personally took the opportunity to do a 10-k run on the South Rim trail, which was the best run of my life!

The next day, we headed up to Zion National Park while stopping at some great waypoints conveniently on the highway, including Horseshoe Bend Canyon, which offered perhaps the most picturesque view of the Colorado River imaginable. We then stopped at the Glen Canyon Dam, one of America’s most important feats of engineering. We walked on the bridge hundreds of feet above Glen Canyon while internalizing the impressive strength of the dam in holding back all of Lake Powell. Before reaching our campsite for the night, we took participants through Zion National Park to catch the sun setting upon the Zion canyon from the Overlook Trail.

Waking up before the crack of dawn, we headed to Zion the next day early in the morning to secure a parking spot in the visitor center. Once we had found parking, we set up a build-your-own bagel station in the tailgate of the Peruna truck, which gave us fuel for the day of hikes to come. We then loaded on the bus, which took us first to The Narrows hike, where we walked along the Virgin River until the path dissolved into the water. Our next hiking endeavor was the Emerald Pools hike, which gave us all a challenging uphill ascent into the cliffs of Zion. We were generously rewarded by our ascent of the mountain, which enabled us to see the entire Zion Valley in the sun and waterfalls tumbling from hundreds of feet above us. The long morning of hikes fatigued the group, however, and we came back to the Peruna truck to renew our tailgate food assembly line, but this time with sandwiches. After refueling ourselves, we headed back to the campsite in Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Utah, where participants enjoyed some scorching hot showers at the campground (somehow way hotter than the ones back home) and a burger cookout. Participants even added their own touch to our meal, making a delicious type of chaat named Bhel Puri, which includes puffed rice, sev, potatoes, onions, chaat masala, and chutney. It was an absolutely delicious addition to the meal that reminded us all of the amenities of being back in the front country – especially tasty food! Participants then worked diligently to start a fire for the group and keep us warm for the cold night ahead.

The next day was a similarly early wake up, this time with the added novelty of a snowfall! I distinctly remember unzipping the rainfly to my tent in the morning to be greeted by an inch of snow falling on my curious head peeping out of the tent! We persevered nevertheless and quickly packed our gear into the vehicles to embark on a journey to the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado. The day of driving was truly something special. We saw the unique desert landscape of Colorado, recrossed the Glen Canyon Dam, and entered Colorado to be greeted by the aftermath of a blizzard in the preceding days. As we drove into the mountains of Durango, the snowpack increased substantially, even to the point where there was still some on the road that had yet to be cleared! Rafiki and the Peruna truck saw this terrain as no challenge, however, and we effortlessly continued on, stopping in Durango for some Nepalese-Indian food to replenish ourselves from the drive. We then continued on to the Great Sand Dunes, arriving just as the sun was setting, which provided an impressive backdrop to the towering dunes. After the group had taken pictures, we headed to the intended campsite for the night, Zapata Falls.

Upon reaching the campsite, however, we realized it was completely overrun with snow and ice, rendering our camping plans useless! The leaders deliberated on alternatives and settled on camping on Bureau of Land Management land conveniently at the foothills of the mountain we were on. Participants got the full primitive camping experience this night as we had no running water or bathrooms. We were all nonetheless grateful for a place to camp for the night and tucked ourselves into our sleeping bags for one last time before the end of the trip.

Waking up at 4:30am, participants were surprisingly awake and eager to hit the road. The long ride back to SMU was filled with laughter, stories from the trip, and music from the various participants as we passed the AUX around the van. Most of all, we reminisced on the amazing trip that had so quicky come to an end. Arriving back at Dedman Rec Center, we had a group hug before parting our separate ways in search of a warm shower.

An enormous thank you to Levi and Dr. Tuggs for helping lead my most memorable trip during my tenure in the OA, as well as the wonderful participants for helping create lifelong memories from our time together!

-Alex Parachini, SMU Outdoor Adventures Trip Manager


Posted in Trips | Comments Off on 2024 Spring Break Trip

Fall 23 Camping and Backpacking Trip

On the afternoon of November 3rd, trip leaders Alex Parachini & Nikhil Kathuria made the final preparations for their journey into the beautiful Ouachita National Forest. As the trip participants trickled into the OA lobby, their excitement grew to all-time highs. What the participants didn’t realize was that they were about to embark on an experience unlike anything else offered at SMU. The van was loaded, Nikhil took the driver seat, and the 4-hour drive began as Fred again echoed out of the van speakers.

The group stopped to fill their bellies with the culinary masterpiece known as Chick Fil a. Needless to say, everyone was blown away after such fine dining. They soon arrived at Shady Lake Campground, where they would sleep for the night. Alex & Nikhil guided the group through setting up their tents in the dark and prepared for the next morning.

The next morning Alex & Nikhil prepared an exquisite Michelin starred meal consisting of Folgers instant coffee and turkey bacon breakfast tacos. They received the grandest compliments from Kylah, who described the food as “warm”. Feeling nourished and full of energy, the group packed their backpacks, loaded Rafiki, and drove to Buckeye Trailhead.

As they entered the backcountry, the participants were bubbly with anticipation of the unknown. The group went up and down, traversing across the 2000’ peaks of western Arkansas. After absolutely crushing the first three miles and ascending 700 ft, the group rewarded themselves with an all-time OA favorite, peanut butter bagels.

After eating, team morale was at an all-time high, and the group stopped for a photo shoot with world renowned photographer, Alex Parachini. The quality of his photos will be determined if the participants choose to post his photos on “the gram”.

Upon reaching their campsite for the night, everyone went for a swim in the nearby creek. They all enjoyed the natural spa formed by the waterfall above. Because the water was just a bit chilly, the group foraged for firewood, building a fire akin to the timeless flames of Mt. Olympus. As the fire crackled, Nar produced marshmallows, chocolate, & gram crackers, and everyone enjoyed delicious trail smores. As we all know, dessert before dinner always hits different.

For their post dessert dinner, the group munched on macaroni with marinara and parmesan. Everyone enjoyed themselves as they joked around the campfire referencing their favorite memes and movies.

After everyone cleaned up and packed their smellables away, they embarked upon a two hour saga to successfully hang the bear bags. Nikhil managed to launch one of the ropes around a tree that was caught like a grappling hook. After trying around 5 different methods, they finally got the rope down, hung the bags and went to bed listening to the peaceful white noise of the waterfall.

The next morning, the group hiked out to the road, Nikhil ran up to grab the van, and Alex blessed the participants with his superior DJ abilities. After a ride in Rafiki filled with Fred again and the Black eyed Peas, the group returned to SMU, feeling accomplished and nostalgic over their incredible weekend.

Nikhil Kathuria, SMU Outdoor Adventures Trip Leader

Posted in Trips | Comments Off on Fall 23 Camping and Backpacking Trip

Fall 2023 Mineral Wells Climbing Trip

All twelve of us piled into the van at dawn. It was Saturday. Despite the previous night’s festivities and the early departure time, everyone arrived promptly and excited for the trip to come. Some of us caught an extra hour of sleep on the ride out of Dallas, while others conversed freely. All enjoyed the gradual change in scenery from metroplex to open country—the pavement and strip malls giving way to Texas’s trademark orange-streaked purple skies, sprawling fields and yellowing autumnal forest.

Only an hour and a half west of Dallas, Lake Mineral Wells State Park feels like a different world. We entered the park eager and awake. We stopped to sign-in at the visitor center, where we were greeted by a gentle breeze coming off the lake not yet visible. A short drive from the visitor center brought us to our final destination, Penitentiary

Hollow—a small but proud canyon-in-miniature with sandstone walls thirty to forty feet tall. Although the canyon’s name suggests incarceration, we all felt a sense of freedom as the gear was distributed in the parking lot. While Levi and I set up the top-rope anchors on the rim of the canyon, Sasha and the rest of the company descended into it, where they explored its maze-like twists and turns until we were all ready to climb.

One by one we bravely tied in to the rope, gripped the sharp rock, and pulled ourselves off the ground. Although many of us had climbed in gyms or at the rec center before, few had confronted the austere challenge of ascending real rock. There was, to be sure, a learning curve, but novices and veterans alike all found themselves victoriously standing atop the canyon before lunch time.

Having worked-up an appetite, we took a break for lunch as the mercury on the thermometer rose and a familiar balminess interrupted the mild and pleasant temperatures of the morning. Fortunately, everyone’s stoke was high and much of the canyon remained shaded under its angular walls and the tall oaks whose canopy shielded the canyon floor. Many climbers were able to snag another send after lunch as their peers cheered them on.

The sun began to sink behind the canyon walls, which we knew meant our day was coming to a close. Reluctantly, we packed up our gear and headed

back to Dallas. Content and satisfied after our full day of fun, many slept soundly on the way back. We arrived at Dedman Fitness Center just before 6pm. Our newly-callused hands waved goodbye to one another at the end of this very successful climbing trip.

Joshua Pollard—SMU OA Trip Leader in Training

Posted in Trips | Comments Off on Fall 2023 Mineral Wells Climbing Trip

2023 Fall Break Blog Post

This fall break we set out with nine students in Rafiki (our van) in the Ouachita Mountains in Arkansas. We met at the rental shop in the morning packed up, and got on the road. 

We made a quick stop to fuel up and grab snacks at Bucee’s before leaving Texas. Once we reached camp, we sorted out our gear and all set up the tents. The Outdoor Adventures (OA) trip leaders threw together some fresh pasta. Ingredients included a block of artisan parmesan cheese and a single onion OA leader Alex took from his mom’s house. After some minor complications with the stove, dinner was served. Now nice and toasty from our campfire, we all headed to bed to prepare for the long hike tomorrow.

In the morning, we feasted on breakfast tacos, divided up the gear, carefully balanced our packs, and set off in Rafiki for the trailhead. The first mile was steep, but everyone motored through it. We stopped after a mile for well-deserved peanut butter bagels and to take in the killer view. All you could see were tree-coated hills for miles. 

We powered through the rest of the hike, crossing overgrown trails and narrowly avoiding a Queen snake. After four hours, we made it to the campsite, set up our tents, and learned proper outdoor restroom etiquette. Next, the OA leaders gave us a quick lesson on how to get and safely sterilize drinking water from the creek. To wash off the trail grime, we took a swim in the creek and enjoyed the waterfall. 

After drying off we huddled around the campfire to warm up, befor

e finally getting a demo on how to use the backpacking stoves. We cooked up some tasty chili and rice, then packed and hung our bear bags (the bags where we store food and other smellables to keep them out of reach of animals) to make sure no critters would come visit us at night. 

The next morning, we all cooked oatmeal before packing up for the hike back to Rafiki. Then the leaders walked us through Leave No Trace principles which are the commonly accepted principles used to respect the environment, animals, and other people when you are out in the outdoors. We headed out and after three miles and a quick snack break, we made it back to the van.

The bus ride back was silent, as everyone was worn out from a long hiking weekend. We hit Wendy’s for lunch, where OA leader Levi shocked us all with his ability to devour fifty chicken nuggets in under a half hour. Now fed and rested, everyone was thrilled to head home and take a much-needed shower. 

Lindsay Templeton- SMU Outdoor Adventures Trip Leader in Training

Posted in Trips | Comments Off on 2023 Fall Break Blog Post

Fall 23 Zip Lining Trip 1

On a bright and crisp Sunday morning, 7 participants joined Alex and I as we led them on the first Outdoor Adventures (OA) trip of the fall semester – ziplining with family-owned New York, Texas Zip Line Adventures. Departing in the OA van, Rafiki, we began to the hour-and-a-half drive to our destination to the soothing sounds of house jazz. Before we knew it, Rafiki was winding his way through the trees up a small mountain. Atop we were greeted by the kind staff and their two adorable dogs. We took a moment to take in the sights during this refreshing summer day, and then were thoroughly suited up in all the gear necessary to hit the lines.

We began our adventure with a brief tutorial of the zip-lining process, and then quickly made our way up the stairs to the first zipline. It proved a fun introduction – but only a taste of what’s to come… We continued to tear through the treetops, with some of the more adventurous participants flipping off the platform before launching down the zipline. Our adventure ended with the fastest zipline, and participants had the joy of flying down the zipline at 45 miles per hour! After the final run, we went to enjoy the much-anticipated PB&J sandwiches we had packed for lunch – only to discover that the crucial peanut butter and jelly were missing. Fortunately, the incredibly kind owner, Connie, offered to provide us with peanut butter and locally made-jelly for our sandwiches!

After a wonderful lunch, we packed back into Rafiki and headed back to campus. The tuckered-out participants took the opportunity to rest up on our way home, and we managed to make it back by 3 pm – making for a fun-filled half-day of ziplining for our participants. The participants, many of whom were first-time zipliners, all had positive experiences – so we’re already looking forward to our next trip of the season.

Sasha Falenchuk- SMU OA Trip Leader.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Fall 23 Zip Lining Trip 1

Carson National Forest OLT Trip

On a bright Monday morning myself, our program director Dr. Albert Mitugo and four soon-to-be OA trip leaders piled into our beloved van Rafiki and headed west for Taos New Mexico. Along the way, we sampled some of the local cuisines before arriving at our first camp for the night. The next morning, we had a quick backpack packing course before we loaded up and drove to the sparkling Cabresto Lake at 9,255 feet. On the shores of the high mountain lake, we got out our maps and went over the plan for the next five days. Once we were satisfied with our preparedness, we set out into the wilderness on what would be the first of four breathtaking hikes through Carson National Forest.

A couple hours and about two miles later we reached our first backcountry campsite. Still full of energy from the relatively short hike and excited for the next few days we decided to swim in the creek next to our camp. The cold mountain water rushing over us was exactly what we needed. After drying off and changing we prepared a pasta and sausage dinner before heading to our tents for the night. Wednesday morning brought forth beautiful mountain sights and sounds as we geared up for a longer hike that day. Once we had purified two liters of water for each of us, we were ready to take on the next four miles that Bull Creek Trail had in store for us. This was the toughest hike for some of us. Heavy backpacks, thin mountain air, and dizzyingly steep trails formed a trifecta that proved to be challenging but doable. With our legs feeling like jelly, we arrived at our third camp in the early afternoon. Having made great time, we had all afternoon to set up hammocks, read in the sunlight, and explore our new surroundings. Mountain meadows sprawled around us as we relaxed, recovered, and prepared for an even longer hike the next day.

After another restful night, the six of us prepared for what Albert had dubbed “up and over day” a seven-mile stretch of trail where we would traverse the Latir Mesa. On Thursday shortly after leaving camp, we hiked up above the tree line headed for our highest altitude of the trip at 12,500 feet. With large sections of trail missing, we followed a string of rock cairns along exposed ridges that granted us 360-degree views of the wilderness around us, seeing all the way down to the plains far below. This was my favorite hike of the trip; we went from the dewy dense forest to sweeping barren peaks and back down again cheering each other on the whole time. We arrived at our camp next to Heart Lake and cooked up some chicken quesadillas before heading to bed early that night looking forward to an easier hike the next day. Friday morning rolled around, and it was time for our four future leaders to prove themselves by hiking out on their own. After a thorough emergency procedure class by Albert, he and I departed on our own leaving the rest of the group at camp. Having given ourselves a two-hour head start we set out on the 5.5-mile return hike to Cabresto Lake that was thankfully all downhill. Once we spied the familiar shimmer of the lake through the trees we knew we were almost there.

Upon the arrival of the others at the van we headed back down the mountain and into the village of Questa where we enjoyed a delicious meal of burgers and fries from the local joint Wildcat’s Den. With our stomachs full we slept briefly at our first camp again before beginning the drive back to Dallas. Serene winding mountain roads eventually gave way to rigidly straight and flat highways as we made ground towards Dallas. We debriefed quickly back at SMU and went our separate ways all looking forward to that first shower after a long trip and the semester ahead.

Diego Olson, SMU Outdoor Adventures Trip Leader.


Posted in Trips | Comments Off on Carson National Forest OLT Trip

Fall 2023 Camping and Backpacking Trip

Late into a Friday afternoon, a crew of 7 gathered at the Rental Shop to prepare for our trek to Arkansas. We quickly loaded up Rafiki the van, briefed the participants, and were out, finally leaving the shop at a little before 6 PM. While driving through the pretty East Texas countryside, we stopped in the great city of Paris for some nice Chick-Fil-A before making our final stretch to the Ouachita Mountains. Unfortunately, because of our late start, we didn’t make it to camp until sometime around 11 pm. Thankfully, we were able to get headlamps out and set up camp pretty quickly, staying in an improved backcountry site. The next morning, we had some truly fantastic, culinarily extraordinary egg and cheese tacos. It is undeniable that these would be enough to make a man cry after several days in the backcountry. It was also at this time we met Billy the campground supervisor. Appearing out of nowhere like a game character intent on offering us a quest, he came to share with us his wise words of wisdom, as well as jotting down the personal information of our trip leader for safety reasons.

We broke down camp and took Rafiki to the trailhead. Soon enough, we were off, keeping a rather brisk pace when considering the steep incline, we were forced to endure. Thankfully, the participants were all experienced hikers and were able to handle the strain. Out in the Ouachitas, it’s nothing but small, heavily forested mountains as far as the eye can see. What this meant was an up-and-down trek on the ridgeline for some time. While eating lunch atop one of the peaks, it started to sprinkle a little. Diego, being smart enough to have kept up with the weather forecasts, had warned us of afternoon showers, and we knew that their time had now come. But alas, luck was on our side! The sprinkles subsided with haste, and the rest of the day was bright, sunny, and extraordinarily pleasant. When we set up camp, everyone decided to make the most of our precious time and take a several hour-long nap. Armed with hammocks and crazy creek chairs, we were perfectly poised to take full advantage of our leisurely opportunities in the woods. We also took a quick dip in the waterfall and got some nice pictures on disposable cameras. Once night had come, we made some extraordinary marinara pasta with chicken. We managed to eat quite well in the backcountry!

As for our last day, we made exceptional time, breaking camp faster than anticipated. We also got back to the van in what was almost record time. According to Diego’s tracker, at certain points, we had a pace of around 7 miles an hour! We then began the journey home. We stopped at Panda Express along the way and listened to excellent music on our way back. The participants were all exhausted at the end but seemed very satisfied with the experience! They were able to learn about LNT principles, how to operate a backpacking stove, how to poop in the backcountry, how to purify water, and how to safely use bear bags and practice bear safety during the trip. All of the participants had experience hiking and camping, but few had experience in the backcountry. So, while they were able to learn a great deal about backcountry safety, they already came in with a decent bit of knowledge. It was a fun trip, and a productive one too!


Dillon Quicksall

SMU OA Trip Leader in Training

Posted in Trips | Comments Off on Fall 2023 Camping and Backpacking Trip

Spring 23 Zip Lining Trip

Meeting bright and early at the OA rental shop, 10 participants joined Outdoor Adventures for a day zip Lining trip in LaRue, Texas. Loading up food and participants into our van Rafiki, we jammed out to great tunes along the short ride out. As we arrived, the flat Dallas landscape suddenly transformed into a small mountain with trees towering over the country roads we drove in on. Climbing up the hill with all of Rafiki’s might, we summited the top to be greeted by the New York, Texas Zip Line Adventures staff and their two adorable dogs. After enjoying the scenery, we were outfitted in harnesses and sent out to conquer the zip lining course!

Ascending the stairway to the first tree, we remained quiet in anticipation for the first send down the zip line. While the first line was only about eighty feet long, it served as the perfect warm-up for heading into the longer runs to come. Staff members of the course showed off by going down the lines upside down and backwards, inspiring the rest of the group to add some flair to our runs. After only a couple runs, participants’ war cries could be heard echoing throughout the forest as they launched themselves off the tree-top platforms. Time flew by quickly as we zoomed down the 400ft zip lining routes and laughed at others who skimmed branches on the way down while attempting tricks. After finishing the normal 6-line course, we embarked on a (surprise) additional 3 lines to wrap up our day. After a final run that took us from atop the hill, to across a pond, and back to the mountain we started on, the group was ready for a quick lunch under the shade of the trees.

Before heading back to SMU, we stopped to snap a few group photos of the surrounding view as well as the beautiful bluebonnets planted by the host. After a quieter car ride home and a van filled with participants taking naps, we returned back to the Hilltop from an exciting day trip in the trees. Big thanks to fellow leader Nathan Welle and leader-in-training Nikhil Kathuria for spreading great vibes throughout the trip and helping to lead a memorable group of undergraduates.

Alex Parachini, SMU Outdoor Adventures Trip Leader

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Spring 23 Zip Lining Trip

2023 Spring Break Trip

On Sunday morning, March 12,  we gathered at the Outdoor Adventures office, introductions were made, and bags were packed. Around 11 AM we set out on the drive to Devil’s Den State Park in Arkansas. We stopped for food on the way and found a nice spot to camp close to the trailhead of the Butterfield Trail. We went over campsite selection info before breaking out our backpacking stoves and cooking up some pasta. The next morning, we got a quick backpack packing class from Dr. Mitugo, one of the leaders, before heading over to a mile-long hike showcasing several caves. Next, we started the Butterfield trail, our main destination, and went an additional 4.5 miles before making camp next to a beautiful waterfall where the night sky was phenomenal!

We got up the next morning and got back on the trail for another 5 miles which went by surprisingly quick due to lack of elevation changes on that section of trail. We found an even cooler spot than we had the first two nights with cliffs, caves, another waterfall, and a makeshift living room with chairs made from rocks piled around a large firepit. We set up camp and later made dinner after which we made a campfire and hang out. The day after that we explored the area around our site and went on a hike to an old quarry. We ended with yoga at one of the two lookout spots we explored. We lounged around camp that afternoon and evening sharing stories and preparing to finish the trail.

The next day we got on the trail early breaking camp at 8 AM, by 10 AM it was raining but that didn’t bring us down, we hiked almost all the way to the road head before pitching our tents in one of the hike-in spots close to the main camping area. We huddled in our tents staying warm and dry before cooking quickly during a break in the rain.

The final morning the rain had ended, but we woke up to frozen backpacks because it was 28 degrees! We broke camp swiftly before heading to what would be our final obstacle, the raging thigh-deep river that stood between us and our van. In order from tallest to shortest and grabbing the packs of the person in front of us we waded through and came out the other side with a great feeling of accomplishment. 5 days, 17.5 miles, and 6 campfires later we returned to our trusty van “Rafiki”. Munching on food that was left in the van we hit the road and headed back to Dallas, arriving just before 6 PM.

Diego Olson, SMU OA Trip Leader

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 2023 Spring Break Trip

2022 Fall Rock Climbing Day Trip

When the first cold front of the season rolls in, the city of Dallas hunkers down. Thermostats are tampered with, much to the chagrin of dad, and blankets are pulled from the cupboard. With northern winds come shorter days, warmer jackets, and more time inside. Saturday at Lake Mineral Wells State Park signaled this changing of the seasons. But what meteorologists might call freezing, climbers call “send temps.” With stoke levels high, seven students bundled up and braved the cold with hopes of climbing hard and reconnecting with nature. Despite no confirmation from the park that the climbing area was open, this group of adventurers set off west with their eyes set on Penitentiary Hollow and that classic North Texas limestone.

Our optimism proved worthwhile as we discovered upon arrival the climbing area was open, with aesthetic lines abounding. Student climbers first warmed up in “The Refrigerator,” familiarizing themselves with face climbing and chimneying, crimping, laybacking, and even a bit of off-width. Once comfortable on the gritty limestone, climbers headed to the Scenic Overlook to play around on an arête and test their fingers in true huecos, those pocketed holds that draw climbers from around the world to the Lone Star State. An abbreviated lunch was followed by a rousing send train of 5.8 Boulder Problem, a classic Mineral Wells route with an overhanging boulder-y start, followed by flowy slab climbing to the anchors.

With pumped forearms and torn finger pads, firmly indoctrinated in dirtbag culture, we piled into the illustrious Rafiki (the van) and made our way back to our Dallas home. Conversations were littered with new skills learned, the recounting of exciting moves, and the tossing about of nicknames generated for each other while on the trip. For some, the trip solidified a passion for climbing, exploration, and spending time outdoors. For others, it sparked a new curiosity for this vertical world. For all, myself included, this trip showed the beauty of a group gathering around a shared interest, the bonds built through outdoor activity, and the importance of actively interacting with our natural world. As they say, a life outdoors is a life well lived. I want to extend an El Capitan-sized thank you to my fellow trip leader, Nathan Welle, and all participants for making this an exceptional trip.

Jack Dorsher – Trip Leader, SMU Outdoor Adventures

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 2022 Fall Rock Climbing Day Trip