DOC organizes first spring break trips since start of pandemic

Despite changes in planning due to COVID-19, students and alumni enjoyed trips into the outdoors.

by Frank Blackburn | 3/29/22 5:00am

Source: Courtesy of Alana McClements

Over spring break, five subclubs of the Dartmouth Outing Club — the Cabin and Trail club, the Dartmouth Mountaineering Club, the Ledyard Canoe Club, the Mountain Biking Club and the Winter Sports Club — organized trips to various locations across the country. According to Outdoor Programs Office director Coz Teplitz, these are the first break trips since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some leaders said that even with the return of spring break trips, the effects of the pandemic necessitated a change in planning.

Alana McClements ’22 co-led a canoeing trip in Asheville, N.C. She said that the trip had about 35 participants, including alumni, leaders and a mix of beginners and more experienced canoeing participants. According to McClements, this year Ledyard hired professional river guides for the first time because the subsection lacked experienced trip leaders — a challenge faced by various DOC subclubs

“We had a pretty big exodus of talent because we weren’t able to train new leaders because of COVID,” McClements said. “We ended up making three people leaders on the trip after seeing their skill progress and deciding that they were ready.” 

McClements said that the lack of leadership experience also affected the planning of the trip. She said that normally Ledyard members have the opportunity to learn leadership skills earlier in their Dartmouth careers without taking on the full responsibilities of a senior trip leader. 

“It was challenging for us because we had never been through the process as leaders as sophomores and juniors,” McClements said. “But there is a lot of institutional knowledge in the DOC that helped us.”

Julia Reed ’23 led a backpacking trip in Big Sur, Calif. Reed wrote in an email that they began planning the trip at the beginning of the winter term. 

However, Reed wrote that their trip was forced to change course after they learned that their original trail had been damaged by mudslides and fire. Reed wrote that the last-minute revisions were a “bit chaotic,” but that overall the trip turned out well. They wrote that they ended up doing two three-day hikes that included backcountry camping and a few nights of car camping. Reed added that their group enjoyed views of both the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Lucia Mountains.

Carter Sullivan ’24 and Peter Schmid ’23 led a five-day mountain biking trip in Sedona, Ariz. Sullivan said that the planning process went smoothly, with leaders working throughout the winter term to specify logistics like bike rentals, campsite, medical needs of participating students and even meal ideas.

“We started [planning] super early in week one or two of the [winter] term,” Sullivan said. “We started really broad, like how many people would want to go, where we would want to go, how many days we want to be there ...  By about week 10 of the term we had everything planned out. It was a great feeling to be ready to head out.”

Tunmay Gerg ’25 attended the mountain biking trip and said that the expedition “was probably one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.”

“Even though the trip was only five days, by day two we forgot what day of the week it was,” he said.” “It was the pinnacle of living in the moment.” 

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