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OCT. 2, 2013

Rocks and Rivers

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This past weekend OA students went paddling and rock climbing in what we call our backyard: the Pisgah National Forest. The area offers some of the most amazing rock climbing areas in the country. The most popular are Looking Glass Rock, which is one of the largest monoliths in the United States, and Cedar Rock. World-class whitewater paddling happens at the Green and The French Broad Rivers. The students were rock climbing at Cedar Rock, the Nose and the East Side of Looking Glass and paddling on Section 10 of The French Broad River. Two of our students wrote about their adventures,and here are their experiences.


John told me, “Once you’re up there, you know you’re in the right place.” I had just done the first climb of the route “Gemini” on the South Side of Looking Glass, and John was being lowered from the second pitch. I was ecstactic about finally doing a multi-pitch climb, since it was something I had wanted to do for my whole life. John patted me on the back, and we swapped places. Then, I ascended up the most inspiring climb of my life. Everything about it was perfect. It was a challenging route, but something I could accomplish. I scaled up the many cracks of Gemini, staying focused and content the whole way. As soon as reached the top I saw the best view of my life. The sun was beaming through the clouds, making the sky bright but pleasant. I saw great green beasts of mountains, rolling and hugging each other. I was completely level with a mountain range as far as I could see, and the rock formations it held were astonishing. When I first started looking at the view, the first thing I thought was: Wow, I really need a camera. But then I truly started examining where I was, and what I had just done. I realized that moment could not be captured in a picture… this was an experience. It was the most inspiring and breath-taking moment that I can remember. That weekend changed my life in some special ways. It made me realize what I am alive for, and what it is like to really climb in the wild. The faculty did a fantastic job making the whole thing a great experience, and I learned so much last weekend. And I did not just learn climbing skills… I learned a sense of place and how to live.




I loved my paddle portion of paddle/climb! Paddling comes naturally to me and is actually really relaxing, never mind the fact that I was in class 3 rapids! The faculty made it even more fun. We played games at our camp-sites (after setting up for the night, of course) that taught us even more about things like mechanical advantage and back-country baking. Looking back on the trip, I think the second day was my favorite of all. Not only was I paddling with my friend, Katherine, but she was my partnered adasehede (leader of the day), and we had a lot of fun (and challenge) leading the group throughout the day. My single proudest moment on the trip wasn’t even on a rapid. It was when Anna, my advisor and leader for the paddle trip, offered to let me try solo canoeing in her boat. I didn’t take her up on the offer, but I still felt extremely accomplished just by getting that chance. I can’t even think of anything that actually took from the fun of the trip. The group I paddled with meshed perfectly and everyone in it could get along with anyone else. It felt like one big family trip and will probably help mold our OA semester into a tight-knit community the likes of which no one has ever seen!