For the primary week of spring break, Whitman’s Out of doors Management class backpacked within the Canyonlands of Utah. The SSRA class prepares college students to guide journeys for Whitman’s Out of doors Program (OP) by instructing management, navigational and different backcountry abilities. Led by Assistant Director of Out of doors Applications Stuart Chapin and Whitman alumna Heather Domonoske, there have been eight Whitman first-years and sophomores on this journey.
College students discovered the best way to navigate the deep canyons of Robber’s Roost, off-trail, utilizing solely a topographic map and a compass. College students additionally discovered about management abilities, the best way to cook dinner scrumptious meals within the backcountry and the best way to journey by means of the wilderness by following Go away No Hint (LNT) ideas.
After a number of days of off-trail navigation follow, college students had been break up into teams to hike the eight miles down Robber’s Roost Canyon to a campsite by Angel Arch. This put navigational abilities to the check, as splitting into smaller teams ensured that everybody would follow these abilities earlier than main journeys for the OP.
As a scholar on the journey, my group took an preliminary bearing of the canyon to the south to evaluate the course we would have liked to journey. After that, we started climbing, taking breaks each hour to remain hydrated and relaxation. We determined that for the reason that hike was a straight shot down the canyon, frequent map checks had been pointless. We didn’t examine the map to see the place we had been or how a lot farther we needed to go to get to camp. Our solely bearings had been periodic to find out if we had been nonetheless climbing within the right course.
We had estimated that we might arrive in camp round 2 p.m., and so we had been shocked to nonetheless be trudging down the canyon two hours later. Round 4:30 p.m., we approached a barbed wire fence, which we had been a bit confused to see. We went over it, assuming we had been nonetheless on our technique to Angel Arch. 100 yards later, we had been much more shocked to see the Soiled Satan, a river we weren’t anticipating to cross for 2 days.
We rapidly pulled out the maps to seek out the place Robber’s Roost Canyon intersected with the Soiled Satan River, discovering that we had overshot camp by practically 4 miles. We had been disheartened to be taught that we had been going to wish to backtrack to succeed in camp.
After a brief break on the river to refill our water bottles, we headed on our method again up the canyon so we may hopefully attain camp earlier than darkish. We bumped into three kayakers who had been day climbing up the canyon. Utilizing a navigation app on his cellphone, a person within the group pointed us within the common course of Angel Arch, the place we had been alleged to camp.
We hiked silently and a bit extra unfold out, because the morale of the group was not too good. After backtracking for 3 miles, we heard different teams of scholars climbing down the canyon. We had been relieved to be discovered. As others began trying round for a spot to arrange camp, our group started speaking to Chapin and debriefing our journey.
Reflecting on our expertise that day, we discovered how necessary it’s to remain discovered by checking maps and figuring out the place we had been and the way a lot farther we needed to go. We may keep discovered by taking bearings of landmarks within the distance to find out what course to go in.
We discovered that everybody has the duty to maintain the group from getting misplaced, whether or not as a delegated chief or an energetic follower. Each one in every of us ought to have inspired extra frequent map breaks, extra bearings to be taken and extra consideration to be paid concerning the encircling topography, drainages and different terrain options.
In distant backcountry areas, it’s crucial to stay discovered to keep away from climbing when it’s darkish or changing into overly fatigued from backtracking. With a restricted provide of meals and unsure climate circumstances and entry to water, you will need to arrive at camp at an applicable time and preserve backtracking to a minimal.
Our group discovered so much about wilderness management and energetic following from our errors that day, and we’ve got all turn into higher leaders and backpackers. These important classes will serve us effectively sooner or later, as we start to guide journeys for the Out of doors Program, in addition to for different wilderness camps all through the nation.