I love how this University is tremendously invested into the idea that students should be able to try whatever they want to try while attending UPS. Whether it’s in interdisciplinary courses, study abroad opportunities, or the zillions of clubs on campus, there’s honestly not many things one can’t get their hands on here. The same goes for outdoors.
I call rural Minnesota home, and due to the lack of geographic and topographic variety that categorizes that part of the country, one could say that options for getting outside are rather limited in comparison to other areas (namely the Pacific Northwest). Back home, I really got my start in spending time ‘up north’ with my dad, fishing and taking time to walk through the woods. Nothing too extravagant. Later in life, I was introduced to the concept of backpacking and my world forever changed. Over the next few years, I hiked about 550 miles along the North Shore of Lake Superior as well as other parts of the country. I can now say firmly that backpacking is my favorite thing in this world to do.
Besides homework, obviously.
But then I showed up here and realized that backpacking is only a drop in the bucket in terms of outdoor opportunities in the PNW. Since starting here, I’ve met climbers, bikers, kayakers, canoers, fly-fishermen, spelunkers, canyoneers, snowshoers, and so many other kinds of outdoors-people that it’s a tad bewildering to see how many ways one could spend a Saturday.
The best part about all of this, though, is that because these options exist, and because my school is the way that it is, I can not only learn about all of these different activities, but I can enjoy them all the same.
So when my friend Tyler, an avid mountain biker and erudite mechanic, asked me if he could take me mountain biking some time, let’s just say I was into the idea.
He ended up taking me to 360 Trails in the greater Gig Harbor area, a mere 20 minutes from campus via car. Man, best Wednesday night I’ve had in a long time.
We arrived there after our classes got out on Wednesday (around four), and we got straight to it. Knowing that I had minimal experience, Tyler started us out on a trail that he knew as a ‘beginner trail’… I have never moved so fast on a bicycle in my life. Even though it may have felt at times like my bike was going to disassemble beneath my feet and leave me helplessly hurling over the hills, that never happened, and when that first run was over I just wanted more.
We ended up spending around two hours there. In the process, I may or may not have catapulted myself into a few thorn bushes, disengaged my chain four or five times, and learned that my bike’s brakes don’t really work. However, this new experience in the outdoors will stick with me as one of the most fun times I’ve ever had. So, in short, whether you’re a beginner and prone to falling into thorn bushes, or you’re an expert who can take beginners along primarily for your own amusement, 360 Trails is a great, close-to-campus option for all of you interested in saddling up any day of the week.
Furthermore, wherever you are in life, I would also highly recommend trying something new, preferably something scary, every once in a while if only to keep the blood pumping. Who knows? Maybe it’ll end up being something you love so much that you’ll share your passion with others and get them hooked, all the same.
As always, happy trails,