Bridget Oliver in the New Zealand OPC Trip
Bridget Oliver, Miami Alumna is currently one of the Assistant Directors for the Outdoor Pursuit Center. She attended the New Zealand OPC trip during her time here, and answered a couple of questions for us explaining her amazing experience.
What was a day like?
Days were different depending on if we were in the front country or backcountry. Front country was typically: Wake-up, breakfast at the hostel or bakery in town, and then exploring the town. Specifically in Queenstown, we had a chance to do some high adventure activities since it is a mecca for that (skydiving, canyon swing, paragliding, bungee jumping, etc.) Some of our front country days were spent driving through beautiful countryside to new towns and then prepping for the next backcountry trip. A typical backcountry day would be: Wake up, breakfast at the hut, hike/climb/kayak and explore until we get to a lunch break or the next hut. We typically had some time to explore around the hut before and after dinner sometimes including time in natural hot springs.
What’s the thing you liked the most about the trip?
I loved that we got to experience so much of an amazing country. We spent just enough time in each place (well maybe not enough…I definitely want to go back!) and moved around so much that I know I got to see and enjoy way more than if I had tried to plan and complete a trip on my own.
What was your favorite place?
The Angelus Hut for sure!! It was an amazing, challenging, and fulfilling hike in. The hike from the previous hut took us above the clouds (and a small airplane that flew by) and along a ridge of the mountain for an exhilarating feeling. It was a long day, and I just felt so accomplished to make it to the hut. The Angelus Hut was big enough that our entire group (which normally had to split in 2) was able to be together. It was our last hike of the trip and we had bonded so much that it was so nice to be able to share the time all together. The amazing view didn’t hurt either. The lake right outside the hut was so blue and calm and some of the purest, most delicious water we’d ever tasted. I remember waking up to a gorgeous sunrise right out our bunk room window too. My friend shook me awake thinking he was seeing the Southern Lights it was so vibrant and beautiful. Everything about getting to and the time we got to spend at that hut was perfect and definitely my favorite place of the trip.
Why would you recommend students to go on this trip?
Why wouldn’t I recommend this trip?! To me it is the perfect study abroad opportunity!
- You get a chance to visit a country many people only ever dream about.
- You get to experience so much of the country.
- You get to be outside and enjoy the true beauty of the country in a way that many citizens of the country don’t even get out to do.
- You learn so much about yourself from your leadership skills and style to how
you handle good and bad situations in and out of nature. The journal I kept is still so important to me, to be able to look back at the physical, emotional, and spiritual journey I had. It’s powerful to be able to learn naturally, and that’s what this course allows you to do. The fact that I got to earn 3 of my college credits on this trip still blows my mind! This trip helped to steer me into my chosen career path, so I may be a bit bias, but I would say that this trip is a powerful development tool that people would be crazy to turn down (especially if you like being active in the outdoors and traveling even a little).
New River Gorge Fall Break Trip
Have you ever wanted to brave class 5 rapids, hike to gorgeous sunset views, and experience the third tallest bridge in the United States all in one weekend? Well that’s just what the folks from the New River Gorge Fall Break Trip were able to accomplish. The participants of this Outdoor Pursuit Center trip took full advantage of their time in the area considered the Grand Canyon of the East.
While its name suggests youth, the New River is actually one of North America’s oldest rivers and its banks are home to ancient boulders. This is where participants tried their hand (and feet) at bouldering-rock climbing at low heights without harnesses or ropes. Later in the day, they experienced these rock formations in another way while on the water. They loaded rafts with some of the most entertaining raft guides they could find and powered their way down the rapids of the Lower New River. With the sun overhead and not a cloud in the sky, it was perfect weather for rafting and occasional swimming in the river. the next day allowed participants to experience the river from high above. They found multiple hikes around the rim of the gorge with picturesque overlooks and breath-taking views. The highlight of day two was the hike to Long Point to watch the sunset behind the trees just beyond the 876ft. tall New River Gorge Bridge.
After each day filled with adventures, each night concluded around a campfire with stories and laughter under the stars. Participants walked away from this trip with new skills, new and deepened friendships, and new memories of a beautiful land not so far away.
By Bridget Oliver
Backpacking The Cranberry Wilderness
The Cranberry Wilderness. The crown jewel of West Virginia’s 919,000 acre Monongahela National Forest. It’s like stepping back in time: trails are small and unmarked, wildlife are not habituated to humans, and cell phones are useless due to the dense canopy overhead. This is the site of one the Outdoor Pursuit Center’s Fall Break trips that ran this past weekend. Did it live up to the hype?
“There is something about being out in the middle of nowhere that refreshes my soul.” – Cole Baker
Participants hiked a total of 23.5 miles over 2.5 days. The days were long and challenging, but participants were rewarded with beautiful backcountry campsites near waterfalls and trickling streams. We spent time on the trail getting to know each other, playing games, and telling stories. Our nightly entertainment was sitting around a campfire, with our dinner in hand, telling more stories and playing card games.
Luckily the weather was perfect, with only rain on the night we arrived which didn’t affect us. There were no bugs the entire trip too.
The students got a chance to explore a new place and a new activity. They developed old friendships and started new ones. They’re leaving with a truly unique experience.
By Zach Cross