While the mountains themselves formed over 250 million years ago, some of the rocks that underlie the region are over a billion years old!
The long geologic and evolutionary history of the Southern Appalachians has created one of the most biologically diverse regions in the temperate world; some even say it is “rainforest-like.” This region is home to beautiful rushing rivers, hundreds of waterfalls, and some of the highest peaks in the Eastern United States—including Mt. Mitchell (elevation 6,684’), the highest point east of the Mississippi River. Its diverse landscapes have been featured in many motion pictures, including The Hunger Games and The Last of the Mohicans.
Outward Bound students can expect to share the wilderness with over 700 different kinds of trees, more than 50 types of mammals, 150 different types of birds, and over 50 species of amphibians. The huge number of tree and plant life is actually what gives these mountains their namesake. As plants breathe, they exhale and put the ‘blue’ into the atmosphere, thereby contributing the the characteristic blue haze on these distinctive mountains.
Temperatures in this area range from 50 - 85 degrees in the summer, 30 - 65 degrees in the spring and fall, and 10 - 50 degrees in the winter.
Students will be backpacking in Pisgah National Forest where they will learn risk management for backcountry foot travel, camp craft, orienteering, and how to use Leave No Trace principles. Equally as important, is time spent learning conflict resolution, communication styles, leadership and team-building. After practicing these skills, the instructors will step back and let the crew work together to collectively navigate through the wilderness.
Weather permitting, participants spend up to three days maneuvering Class I-III whitewater through sculpted rock channels in tandem (two person) canoes, perfect for fostering collaboration and communication skills between crewmates. Students execute synchronized strokes, dynamic eddy turns, peel-outs and ferries on either the French Broad or Tuckaseegee Rivers and occasionally on the Chattooga, New and Nantahala Rivers. Some of the topics covered during this portion of the course include: basic water safety and rescue techniques, identification and use of equipment, how to work with paddling partners to successfully negotiate class l-III rapids and flat water a strokes. > View Whitewater Canoeing Courses.
After backpacking for a few days, students will spend time either climbing up a rock face or rappelling down one. Depending on weather and group dynamics, the crew may even have the opportunity to experience a high ropes obstacle course. These activities will push students to step outside their comfort zones to communicate and trust one another. With a focus on safety, this course activity starts with the basics, such as working with ropes and learning to tie knots.
Every Outward Bound course is built around a progression that delivers powerful life lessons by encouraging participants to safely and confidently step outside their comfort zones. You'd be surprised what you can learn from climbing up a mountain or rappelling down one.