Ouachita National Forest | Photo by Campus Recreation | Wright State University
Over the 2023 spring break at Wright State University, campus recreation trip leaders led a small, eventful backpacking trip to Arkansas in substitution for the canceled Grand Canyon trip.
This organization and trip to the Grand Canyon require a permit from state national parks, which Wright State acquired for the last 15 years, according to Caleb Brooks, a logistician and trip leader at campus recreation. Applying for the permit included submitting information such as location, group size and dates of traveling to Arizona State National Park.
Brooks explained a change this year.
“The permit was denied this year, as it is being made more strict to hike in attempts to protect the environment, which is a good thing of course,” Brooks said.
After campus recreation canceled the Grand Canyon trip, the team searched for alternative trips to Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas, according to Christopher Lynch, the climbing gym manager and trip leader at the ORC.
“We decided on Arkansas, as the reviews online were very good. We chose the area, determined the budget on gas, food and sign ups. After this, we planned the route and meals,” Lynch explained.
This year, the trip included two trip leaders and three participating students, according to Brooks.
“It was a small group, which I prefer, as you connect with people on a deeper level rather than surface level,” Brooks said.
The group met at 5 a.m. on the Saturday before spring break before checking all the gear and loading it into the campus recreation van, in the words of Lynch.
“We went through a shakedown, going through our gear and loading it into the van, before driving 12 hours to southwest Arkansas,” Lynch said.
The first day, the group stayed at the trailhead, since it was close to dark after arrival. Lynch described the group’s excursions the next day.
“We hit the trail immediately, having breakfast on the trail. It was raining for most of the first day, the water levels for a lot of our creek crossings were pretty high. In total, we did around 40 river crossings, so we had really swampy feet even when it was sunny,” Lynch exclaimed.
On the third day, the group visited Little Missouri Falls before starting the Eagle Rock Loop, a 26.5 mile hiking route, according to Lynch. This portion of the trip provided some obstacles.
“We got to the halfway point around 13 miles, and instead of continuing the loop, we backtracked because the water levels were way too high, and we would’ve had to swim, which is very unsafe when we have 40 pound backpacks,” Lynch said.
After three days of hiking, the group returned to Hot Springs, Arkansas to stay in a hotel for a night before embarking on the 12-hour journey back to Wright State, according to Lynch.
Upcoming events of campus recreation
Lynch expressed why campus recreation holds these opportunities for students.
“Outdoor resource center hosts these trips for students to get exercise, to see cool places, to backpack, to have almost spiritual experiences and to hang out with cool people,” Lynch said.
Keenan Callejo, a psychology major in attendance, also communicated the positive experience of partaking over spring break.
“It was really fun, it was my first trip with Wright State, and I signed up at the last minute. I’ll definitely be attending more campus [recreation] trips in the future,” Callejo said.
Lynch explained that campus recreation is holding another backpacking trip to the Virginia State Park, which is a less intense backpacking trip than the Arkansas trip.
For more information on these upcoming events, visit the campus recreation desk located in the Student Union or email Billy Willis.