A visual recollection of my development in the out-of-doors.
A visual recollection of my development in the out-of-doors.
Costa Rica, January 2014
It's safe to say that I had an adventurous spirit (and had already started rock climbing) before I went to Costa Rica in the winter of 2014, but this trip ended up being what changed my mind about what I wanted to be involved in professionally, and inspired me to spend more time outside.
Sara Hart, left, and I, right, met on the trip and had a great time. We are both much happier when we are covered in mud. While in Costa Rica our group backpacked, repelled, explored a cave, surfed, whitewater rafted, experienced local culture in numerous ways, and explored ecotourism from the depths of a country at the forefront of the movement.
After Costa Rica we returned to our classes and an unpleasant Ohio winter. Soon after I was the victim in a pretty bad "sledding" accident, so with a serious concussion and some broken ribs I was unable to get outside as much as I wanted to. (Despite the fact that I am hanging upside-down on a dead tree.)
Luckily, I had the chance to accompany a rock climbing trip to the Red River Gorge as the informal photographer. Even though I wasn't ready to climb after my accident, it was awesome to be outside.
When classes finished, I went with my good friend from the Costa Rica trip, Brian Raftry, back right, to photograph him and a collection of musicians as they recorded in Echaw Swamp, South Carolina. Here we are pictured standing in the shower that we used everyday. To see more photos from this adventure click on my "Photography" link and select "Swamp Sessions."
Brian and I then proceeded to Bryson City, North Carolina, where I was a photographer and he was a raft guide both for the Nantahala Outdoor Center, a big-name rafting company that also offers zip-lining, flat water activities, and a number of other outdoor excursions. We took part in many evening hikes up to this fire tower overlooking the incredible Smokey Mountains, in addition to numerous waterfall visits in the area.
I primarily photographed zip-liners, which essentially entailed me hanging out in my hammock until I heard them coming. I spent so much time up there that I could tell which zip of the series they were on just by listening.
When I returned from North Carolina I threw myself into outdoor recreation as much as I could. I went caving on a class trip in October, and discovered one of my new favorite activities.
I really like playing in the mud...
My cousin had transferred to Ohio University, and our many shared interests allowed for a number of trips to Hocking Hills to take pictures and play outside. We also touched a lot of rocks, because that's what we do. (Photo credit: Sophia Vancouver)
In December I visited Brian in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, where I soaked in the mountains and tried snowboarding for the first time, another new favorite.
In the spring semester of 2015 I started with a bang when I went on my winter wilderness living skills class trip and we woke up to a snow-covered Red River Gorge. Here is the class being silly, as usual. Talk about norming!
Rocks and snow? I like it!
Before our spring climbing competition I was able to attend a route setting clinic and class run by local climbing legend Ted Welser. It was an awesome experience that gave me a new perspective on route setting and climbing.
Our Rockstars Climbing Competition that we host every spring went off without a hitch, and I photographed the first part of the event from the top of the wall.
I love photography, and I love climbing. Put them together and you've got one happy girl!
I planned a trip to hike a section of the Appalachian Trail for spring break. Here I am being a fool as we prepare to cook dinner on the side of the rode just after entering Georgia in early March.
Unfortunately, after all that planning, one of my friends became very sick from a pre-trip exposure. We had only just completed the steps in Amicalola Falls State Park before we and all those tarp people had to come back to Ohio.
Fortunately, my friends are always willing to turn things around with me and I was able to go caving and snowboarding to practice my new favorite skills instead.
In March, my outdoor recreation and education class completed the high and low ropes courses at Ohio University. What a great way to learn about facilitation!
Not long after I went on my fundamentals of rock climbing class trip to Strouds Run and Hocking Hills. I fell asleep thinking about knots and anchors at the end of that weekend!
I sure do love walking backwards off cliffs.
The very next weekend I took my father and cousin Sophia into Boar Hole Cave in Lewisburg, West Virginia. Here I am playing on some very strong pendulums. (Photo Credit: Sophia Vancouver)
Of course, the first time the weather permitted, my cousin and I had to make a trip out to Hocking Hills. The ice was beautiful at Cedar Falls!
As the weather began to warm, I was finding myself outside more and more. Sophia and I went to Conkle's Hollow in Hocking Hills after classes with our friend Kellie on a beautiful April Wednesday and were able to practice bouldering while enjoying a lovely sunset.
With summer on the horizon and finals blocking the view, I had to make room in my day for some quality time with the slack-line and hammock on my friendly (and beautiful) college campus.
I was unable to get any pictures of me during the class, but after the spring semester ended in 2015 I completed my Wilderness First Responder course through SOLO and Ohio University. I'm happy as a clam and ready to recreate even more safely!
From May 16th to June 9th of 2015, ten rec-scallions and myself were backpacking in Pisgah National Forest and sea-kayaking along the Outer Banks in North Carolina for Ohio University's Outdoor Leadership course. Needless to say, it was an incredible experience full of growth, learning, and bears.
Naturally, transitioning from backcountry to front-country was not entirely smooth, so a tent-mate from the trip and I protested with instant coffee and camp stoves on the back porch.
After spending a month in the backcountry with a rowdy crew, I had three days at home in Ohio before moving on to New Hampshire to work for an all-girls camp (Camp Wicosuta) as a cabin counselor and challenge course facilitator, with the occasional trip lead. Here I am with one of my co-counselors trying out the "dangling duo," a great team building opportunity!
Back at school after camp I started out strong with a fundamentals of kayaking class, where I was able to practice my strokes and add on to the building blocks of the summer. Always room for more growth! (Photo credit: Jasmine Beaubien)
In September--between classes, homework, work, and projects--I managed to get outside a few times. Here I am leading a whitewater rafting trip through Outdoor Pursuits, on the beautiful New River in West Virginia.
At the end of September, a few friends and I made the long haul down to the Nantahala River in North Carolina for Guest Appreciation Fair at NOC. It was awesome to be back in the mountains I once called home.
In mid-October I was a teaching assistant for an introductory backpacking course offered through Ohio University. It was an excellent opportunity and really showed me how much I have left to learn! (Photo credit: Kyle Loftus)
The very next weekend I tagged along on a recreation studies caving trip (also through OU), where I acted as the undergraduate teaching assistant and was able to teach about surveying, karst topography, and basic speleothems. It was an excellent time! (Photo credit: Dylan Weldin)
Of course it wasn't long before I was underground again, though this time with some speleologists working as a volunteer photographer for a 3D mapping project. We take our caving very seriously.
During winter break of my junior year, I was able to go on a couple adventures: West Virginia to cave and celebrate the holidays with speleologists, North Carolina to hike Sam Knob trail and explore Asheville, and New Hampshire to assist lead/drive a bus to cross country ski, snowshoe, summit Webster Mountain (photo), snowboard, and ice climb! We enjoyed beautiful conditions and amazing participants.
Not long after the "spring" semester started up in 2016, my cousin proposed we venture to Michigan for Peabody Ice Climbing Club's Ice Fest. We had a rad time on those man-made popsicles!
After another weekend caving and a weekend at the Midwestern Outdoor Leadership Conference in Omaha, I was able to head out for "spring" break in Vermont with a couple friends. Here's a a shot of me working on my shredding on Bromley Mountain and living the dream.
By this point I'm sure it's fairly clear that I like to spend time underground, but this trip we spent hours digging to potentially connect to more cave passage! Exciting stuff, folks.
In May, before heading out to Thompson Island Outward Bound for a logistics internship, I assisted in teaching a Wilderness First Responder course at OU. On the second to last day we acted out a mass casualty evacuation scenario in which I had an airway impalement and major internal abdominal bleeding as a result of a mountain biking accident. (Note: I borrowed the shirt)
With WFR assisting complete and a few other road-trip adventures under my belt, I proceeded to my internship with Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center where, after some time training on land, I accompanied the staff sailing expedition instructors on training and had a wonderful experience on the boat. Here I am acting as scribe of the day.
The Northeast provided awesome opportunities for recreation in my off-days. This particular weekend I was able to spend time with friends in Boston, HIOBS in Newry, Maine, and even climb Mt. Washington.
After that long weekend of adventuring I had the opportunity to be the third instructor on a middle-school boys' 12-day sailing expedition and it was an incredible experience. I can't wait until I get to lead my next expedition!
Is anyone surprised? Once I returned from an amazing summer on the ocean and was back to land-locked Southeastern Ohio, there wasn't much I could do but go underground and spend time with family.
Prepping for a thru-hike while finishing school isn't always easy, but even nice day-hikes to favorite local haunts bring me closer...
Hiking? Again? The crisp November air is too hard to resist, and the impending graduation date mandates more time outside!
Mid-November of 2016 I was able to lead my first (and last) weekend overnight trip with Outdoor Pursuits (the stars finally aligned!) Here I am discussing the secrets of life and glories of rocks with some international students we were lucky to share stories with over the weekend.
This photo is from the adventures in the swamp, but really shows how I feel when I am playing outside. I always know what I am doing next and there are always new things being added to the potential list! My life is liquid and my friends and family are my rocks.