“Surfin’ Waves and Climbin’ Mountains. Too Bad Spring Break’s Over”

Moon Shine Country

It takes a certain breed of college students to pass up beaches, bikinis and beer on spring break and UMD’s got them.

RSOP sent 20 adventure-seeking students to the southeast over spring break, but 300 miles inland and 5,000 feet above any ocean beach.

Students Zach Gill, Erin Denny, Charlie Milton, Katie Houg and Nick Rorem led two different groups on a chilly 50-mile hiking trip up-and-down the Appalachian Trail along the North Carolina-Tennessee border.

The two groups of hikers came from different levels of experience, varied from freshmen to senior and, for the first time in a while, had a balanced number of men and women.

“Two years ago on the same trip, it was like all boys and one girl,” Houg said. “Now, I think both trips had pretty even male-female ratios.”

Denny, also the Outdoor Trips Coordinator for RSOP, added, “I’ve been noticing a huge increase in women participation in all of our (RSOP) events, which is crazy cool.”

The trip not only saw an increase in women, but in general participation.

“We didn’t know we were going to have two groups,” Gill said. “It was overbooked, so we decided to do two trips.”

Along with the surprising attendance numbers, the crew also didn’t expect cold weather.

“Weather is always a wild card,” Gill said. “But I didn’t expect 9 degree mornings.”

“I woke up one morning and there were a couple inches (of snow) on the ground and I was like, ‘What is this? Minnesota?” Matt Worms, a freshman in Gill’s group, said.

Unexpected conditions call for makeshift solutions.

“The water filters froze,” Houg said. “So, Nick stuck them in his armpits during a windy snow storm. It worked after trying everything else.”

Some hikers didn’t pack gloves, so they wore wool socks on their hands.

“Everybody was willing to adapt to the conditions and find beauty and joy amidst the unexpected cold,” Houg said.

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