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APR. 14, 2015

Paddle/Climb 3 in hindsight

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Grace Brofman, OA Resident & Wilderness Leader

Semester 40 concluded our series of paddling and climbing expeditions.  Students and wilderness instructors spent three days exploring the area by boat, hand and foot.

Climbers explored the Cedar Rock area in Pisgah National Forest.  Visiting a new site each day allowed for everyone to build on a variety of skills and experience new challenges.  The first day focused on becoming comfortable with belay technique and communication, until students were able to belay one another confidently and safely.  Over the course of the next couple days, we were able to incorporate more advanced activities such as rappelling, traverses, and for some, belaying a lead climber.  Each individual faced new challenges.  Whether it was simply a fear of heights, climbing farther than the day before, or testing their strength, we all returned feeling tired and accomplished.


The paddling trip traveled down section 10 of the French Broad River. We spent three days paddling from campsite to campsite and mastering new skills.  Our first day of paddling saw relatively flat water with a few small rapids, allowing students to focus more on strokes and communicating with their boat partners, rather than whether or not they would flip their boats.  We learned the basics of ferrying, entering and exiting eddies, and whitewater swimming, which came in handy later in the trip.  Our third day was the most exciting with several class II and III rapids that really tested everyone’s abilities.  We had a blast scouting the rapids and cheering each other on while running them.  All of us were able to experience both the thrill of successfully running a rapid and managing ourselves and staying safe if we were to flip.


It was great to come back together as a community afterward and share stories with one another about our experiences.  It’s quite clear across the board that no matter our skill set, we all faced new fears and challenges, and enjoyed the task of facing and conquering them.

Grace Brofman, OA Resident & Wilderness Leader