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Beginners Guide to the Outdoors

Beginners Guide to the Outdoors

Ways To Start Getting Outside This Year 

By Emma Echelmeier 

Start this year by getting outside more with these great beginner tips. 

Lupine blooms high above an alpine lake. Photo by Emma Echelmeier.

Getting outside is always great because there are so many different activities to get involved in. Lots of students at Walla Walla University are into hiking, camping, biking, water sports, and so much more. Being active and going outdoors is good for the body in different ways. Finding fun, enjoyable activities helps you stay physically fit, which supports overall health. Socially, it is also a great way to find people with similar interests. 

Sometimes, getting into certain activities is difficult. If you don’t know anyone involved in the specific activity, or you have just never done it before, starting can be tough. Joining ASWWU Outdoors can be a great place to start, or you can look locally for places to get started with skiing, climbing, or water activities. If you are looking to begin some new outdoor activities, here are some tips for the most common ones. 

ASWWU Outdoors offers hiking throughout the school year, so that is a great department to join. Outside of Walla Walla, Milton Freewater, or even further south, the Umatilla National Forest offers lots of hiking and camping spots. Another option is to find your own trails with friends by doing some research. There are apps like AllTrails that have lots of information on different hiking, biking, and camping spots. While researching, keep in mind your own limits, but try to push them. Remember to check the difficulty, location, weather, length, and elevation gain. And when preparing for your hike, always bring yummy snacks, good shoes, and weather appropriate clothing. 

Camping can be done a number of ways: tent camping, car camping, or if you have more time, backpacking is the ultimate way to camp somewhere. They all require some preparation, but with car camping, you can bring along more equipment and luxuries, while backpacking must be planned more specifically.  

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Morning light creates a mirror reflection on the lake. Photo by Emma Echelmeier.

A lot of people at WWU love to mountain bike. The Pacific Northwest is a wonderful playground for bikers. There are lots of trails, and ASWWU Outdoors plans mountain biking trips throughout the year. If you have a bike, the Tred Shed is a great place to get some fix-ups or to learn more about biking. 

If you want to get into climbing, I recommend first starting at a gym. Bouldering around can help you get a feel for climbing. Get to know someone who knows their way around the ropes (literally) and ask them to teach you about belaying. The essentials of climbing are a harness, climbing shoes, rope, carabiners, and a belay device. When the WWU climbing wall is open, it can be a great place for beginners. ASWWU goes on a few climbing trips per year as well. 

These are some fun basic outdoor activities to get started with. Other popular activities are ice climbing, mountaineering, back country skiing, surfing, and even more. Starting a new outdoor activity can seem intimidating, but it does not have to be. Joining ASWWU Outdoors on their weekend activities or trips is a great place to get started on campus. Hopefully this year will be filled with outdoor adventures for everyone. 

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