Adventure trips explore outdoor activities in scenic locations

This semester, University Recreation at Mississippi State University will be hosting Outdoor Adventures (OA) trips to three scenic locations in Alabama.

OA trips will include backpacking in the Sipsey Wilderness, caving the Tumbling Rock Cave and climbing Sand Rock.

Annie Bills, assistant director of Outdoor Adventures, member services and marketing at the Sanderson Center, said that OA’s goal is for students to connect with the outdoors and other students.

“It’s some good bonding time. Both in the car, on the drive there, as well as around a campfire making some s'mores," Bills said. "It’s going to be a good time. (The students) can kind of talk, make those connections, make those friendships that that will kind of last beyond just the trip."

OA’s first trip is Feb. 11 to the Sipsey Wilderness in northwest Alabama.

The trip involves a two-day, 12-mile hike through the woods of Alabama’s largest designated wilderness. Backpackers will also get to view a very large poplar tree called “The Big Tree”.

Bryce Addy, a senior mechanical engineering major on the OA staff, said he is looking forward to traversing the Sipsey.

Addy has been to the Sipsey with OA before. While the distance of the hike was challenging, he said the views made the trip rewarding.

On March 4 and 5, OA will travel to Monte Sano State Park and Tumbling Rock Cave.

Bills said OA will leave the Sanderson Center the morning of March 4 and travel east of Huntsville, Alabama, to the Monte Sano State Park. The group will stay the night at the park, and then travel to Tumbling Rock Cave in the morning.

Tumbling Rock Cave features several unique rock formations like Topless Dome, Christmas Tree Stalagmite and Hall of the Gods. However, there is no lighting in the cave. The cave's staff members will give participants headlamps to use to navigate the cave’s interior.

Bills said prior experience is not necessary to cave at Tumbling Rock. However, the caving will involve lots of walking and maneuvering around rocks and  obstacles the group may be encounter while caving.

OA’s last trip of the semester will be to Sand Rock on April 22. Also known as Cherokee Rock Village, Sand Rock is located in the mountains of northern Alabama. The trip features a campout and the opportunity to climb Sand Rock.

Bills said OA will cater the climbing toward the experience level of the participants. Beginners will do less challenging levels, while more experienced climbers can do more difficult hikes.

OA recommends participants who are new to climbing visit the Sanderson Center climbing wall before attending the trip, Bills said.

Tanner Thurman, graduate assistant for Outdoor Adventures, said the pricing of the trips offered by OA is much lower than the prices for similar trips offered by other schools in the region.

“I kind of compare us to (the University of) Alabama, UAB (University of Alabama-Birmingham) and Ole Miss,” Thurman said. “We offer the lowest price possible to allow people to be able to go by having as low set of a price as we do. Ours is usually between $60 and $80 for a student. Alabama’s is like $200.”

Those interested in going on an adventure trip can sign up on the UREC website. OA will provide transportation for up to eight participants.

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