Every year, we take new candidates for our Outdoor Leadership program on a backpacking trip through the wilderness of Carson National Forest in New Mexico. This year, we had six extraordinary candidates, who were all willing to learn new things about the outdoors, as well as share with us their own experience outdoors.
We left from Dallas dark and early on August 7th, and arrived at SMU’s Taos campus about thirteen hours later. The next day, we started out at the trail head at Cabresto Lake. New Mexico welcomed us with bright, warm afternoons and chilly nights, and the weather stayed dry nearly the whole time we were there! During this time, our current leaders taught outdoor classes to the new OLT’s, including classes on extensive Leave-No-Trace principles, map and compass orientation, and trip planning and safety. Each day, we were hiking around 3-6 miles and experiencing elevation gains and losses of anywhere from 300-1,000 feet. Other than teaching or learning in classes, our favorite pastimes included playing the card game “Palace,” star-gazing in the freezing nights, taking jumping photos in various locations, and picking (and eating) wild strawberries and kinnikinnick berries.
Overall, our trip was a huge success, and we had the pleasure of inviting every new OLT candidate into our year-long training process to become future SMU Outdoor Adventures Leaders! Thank you for such a wonderful trip, and good luck with Outdoor Leadership Training, Samantha, Kaitlyn, Hanna, Tanner, Devin, and Nick!
Jessica Garza, SMU OA Student Manager -Trips and Workshops