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Final OAC

Preamble: I’m not sure how this became so personally reflective, but I’m happy it did so. Maybe you’ll think some of it sounds silly, and that’s okay. As for what my fellow OACers think about the words below, I hope some feel the same as myself.

 

My quads throbbed from hiking steep mountainsides, my shins flaunted scrapes from rocks and pokey shrubs, my hammock swayed in the wind each night as my ass shivered bitterly, and my face smiled through all of it. In three prior blog posts, I’ve tried to explain precisely what it is that makes the University of Dayton’s Outdoor Adventure Club (OAC) tick. I’ve tried to describe the feelings, the sights, the sounds, the people. I’m convinced it’s not possible. However for your entertainment, or my own at the very least, I will try again for yet a fourth time.

On March 28th, 2018 the OAC began its extended spring adventure. On this outing, we were bound for North Carolina. I recall feeling ambivalent attending because I had been fighting a cold for the better part of a week. My symptoms: a fair case of feeling like a “sleepyhead” and the wicked, exhausting cough of a 50-year cigarette smoker. By the time everything was said and done, there was no way I was going to miss my final extended adventure trip as a rugged goofball in the OAC.

Our adventure took the form of a 14-15 mile (but whose counting?) trek down, and subsequently up, the prodigious Linville Gorge. Our route followed a snaking trail hidden among the evergreens. It hugged a rushing river lined with boulders the size of cars and houses. River water could sometimes be mistaken for shimmering glass. Every inch of willing mountainside glazed with the glow of springtime's coy sunshine. The trail’s faint boot prints marked the journey of the explorers before us.

Splitting the whopping 35 OACers on this trip into two groups of seniors and non-seniors, we carried our packs by day with water bottles and Cliff bars in hand. By night we nestled closely together by the campfire. When it came to crossing rivers, we were crafty. One crossing beckoned the use of a zip-line to safely maneuver our backpacks over the rushing water. It looked like something out of a “Mission Impossible” movie. However, to the disappointment of my fellow comrades and I, Tom Cruise did not make an appearance.

I was all over the place. I felt alive. I felt full. I felt despondent. I couldn’t stop laughing. I felt the sun. I felt nostalgic. I told the story of miraculously scoring a touchdown in high school football. I mean, come on. I must have been feeling some type of way to tell THAT story. I ate a bunch of trail mix. I felt my heart in my chest and the air in my lungs. I didn’t feel like time was passing. I felt like I was on a different planet while simultaneously observing the esoteric corners of native earth. I cracked a lot of sub-par jokes. These are the facts. I’ll look back on my experience in OAC and remember these things, of course. But my recollection of the people will be commensurate. I have some words about them.

Generally, the collective of individuals situating the OAC whole are nothing short of amazing. They welcome you in with open arms. They sit you down by the fire and ask how you’re doing. How you’re really doing. They take stock in what you have to say. They listen. And oh my, they make you laugh. And not just “laugh.” I’m talking abdominal-stressing, feels-like-my-intestines-have-fused-into-a-flaming-snake laughter. OAC is a big, smelly family. Meals are shared together and people care about each other. Occasionally when we get lost, personalities scrape together. But hey, that’s what families do sometimes.

It is necessary to recognize those responsible for making all of our wonderful times together possible. Leaders of the Outdoor Adventure Club are responsible, to a substantial degree, for the growth of the club over the last four years. Time and time again, they’ve smoothed out details for lengthy trips and filled every weekend of the semester with opportunities to engage with the natural world. They are not the type to seek attention so I uphold their right to privacy, but you know who you are. On behalf of all of us, thank you.

My time with OAC is over now, but I’ll think of it often. Almost like they happened last night, specific sights and conversations stick out in my mind. I understand opportunities like these are offered to an incredibly small number of people. For this, we should feel extremely grateful. I think we do.

As we begin to go our separate ways across the country seeking our respective careers or education, and ultimately our respective lives, I am happy to have been a small part of these little adventures. I don’t know too much, but more and more each day it seems life is full of these little adventures. They come one after another. I am not sure if things happen any other way, but I am sure there will be some friendly faces to join you. The little adventures, and with whom you share them. That's about all I can figure. There's not much else to do but lace up your boots and go headfirst into whatever is out there. 

 

Be wild, be free, be OAC. 

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