By Scott Pauley
If you are feeling worn-out from your daily schedule, Facebook, Twitter and all things that can drag a student down into the doldrums of the technological age, then maybe you need a weekend in the beautiful woods.
The University of West Florida’s Outdoor Adventures team is offering a three day minimalist backpacking trip through the Sipsey Wilderness in the Bankhead National Forest in Alabama, Oct. 18-20, for $70 a person.
The idea behind the trip is to take as little as needed to make it in the wilderness and learn to survive in the woods with little more than a sleeping bag, a tent, some food and the clothes on your back, Lead Trip Guide William Fike said.
“It’s not taking your big comfy mattress. It’s not taking all the comforts you would normally have at home,” Fike said. “You’re going camping to get away from that stuff.”
Interested students should have some familiarity with hiking, be able to carry a 40- to 60-pound backpack over some arduous terrain and expect to hike for roughly six to eight hours each day.
“You’ll learn how to build a shelter, how to make a fire without tools, how to find food,” said Shaun Boren, head of Outdoor Adventures. “We have our breaks that are an adrenaline rush, like rafting or skydiving, and we have our trips that are relaxing like canoeing, where you’re just floating down the river. This trip is somewhere in between, where it’s a break but you’re challenging yourself, carrying everything you need on your back.”
There are two mandatory meetings prior to the trip, but there is no registration deadline. Interested students should try to sign up at least a week before the trip leaves, Boren said.
“The first mile is kind of frustrating because you have this heavy bag, but then somewhere in there, a couple miles in, you start forgetting that you’re walking and forgetting that you have all this stuff,” Boren said. “If I were to just tell you to sit there and think for five hours you’d go nuts. But if you’re walking, somehow your mind goes free, and you can just think about life. To me you come back with an appreciation of all the things that you had when you left.”
For any questions about what to bring or where to sign up, you can look up the trip on UWF’s website on the Recreation and Sports services page at uwf.edu/recreation/OutdoorAdventures/falltrips.cfm. You can also contact the trip organizer, Adrienne Fike, at her email AFike@uwf.edu.