Participants will tackle whitewater rapids in some of the oldest mountains in the world on this backpacking and whitewater canoeing course. In addition to learning whitewater canoeing skills students will backpack with their crew through the Western North Carolina region which is home to hundreds of waterfalls, over a million acres of national forest, park and public land, roaring rivers and the highest peaks in the Eastern United States.
BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS, NC
Because the Appalachians were once one of the largest mountain ranges in the world they have many different geologic landforms, climates and soils. This long evolutionary history and temperate climate create an area which is teeming with life. Participants 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 about 40 species of amphibians.
This course area is situated within a million acres of national forests, federally-protected wilderness areas, and other public lands. Its diverse landscapes have been featured in many motion pictures, including The Hunger Games and The Last of the Mohicans. <Click to learn more about this course area.>
Occasionally we may also use the Chattooga, New and Nantahala Rivers. You will be using tandem (two person) canoes. Some of the topics you may cover during this portion of the course include:
It will be necessary for you and your crewmates to perform a rapid swim assessment; as well as a flip and swim (or canoe capsize) assessment in the river. This activity is closely monitored by your instructors and river specialists. It is critical for us to determine your whitewater paddling comfort as you and your crew maneuver challenging rapids. Even if you are a non-swimmer or weak swimmer, you will still participate in this safety assessment. All students will be wearing safety helmets and personal floatation devices (PFDs) during the assessment. Helmets and personal floatation devices (PFDs) are required apparel anytime students are on the water.
FINAL CHALLENGE EVENT
At the end of your course, you will participate in a personal challenge event. This is a great time to see how much your physical fitness and endurance have improved since you began your course. This event will be a running activity. It is not a race. Your instructors set a certain route for your crew and you complete the route at a level that will challenge you the most.
Service will be a continuous theme throughout your course. The ethic of service is practiced through Leave No Trace camping techniques, reaching out with compassion to your fellow crewmates and working together as a team to overcome the challenges of Outward Bound.
On your course, the ethic of service is practiced in greater depth and often includes a service project. Projects range from campsite restoration and maintaining hiking trails in the wilderness to supporting the surrounding communities by assisting families in need, sharing outdoor activities with disadvantaged children or helping in local wildlife restoration centers. Service projects typically last 6-8 hours. Alert your instructor AT COURSE START if you need written verification or documentation of service project hours.
Solo typically occurs more than halfway through your course and may last between 36-48 hours. Your instructors will assign each participant an individual campsite within a designated area. Your instructors will teach you procedures to follow during solo and monitor you during this experience. You will know the location of your instructors’ campsite should you need to contact them; otherwise it is essential that you remain in your designated area. If your course has an overnight solo you will have your clothing, food and water. In addition, you will have Outward Bound issued gear: including rain gear, shelter, sleeping bag, compass and whistle. Due to a decreased need for caloric intake, you will have less food available than you would have during your other course activities. Solo is a not a “survival test.” You will not be physically active during solo, as solo is a time for rest, recharge and reflection. Solo is also a good time to write in the journals we provide. If you have questions or concerns, please discuss with your Student Services Representative or your instructors.
These days will be divided into three phases–training, main and final. During the training and main phases, you learn safety precautions for backcountry foot travel, how to find campsites, how to navigate terrain as well as how to use a map and compass. Equally important will be time spent learning conflict resolution, communication styles, leadership and team building. During the final phase, your instructors may allow your group to travel independently (without direct instructor supervision) provided you and your crew have demonstrated personal and crew responsibility and necessary wilderness skills.
Since your crew’s navigation depends on individual and group decision making, your crew could make some navigational errors along the way. You may hike 12 to 15 hours in one day to reach your destination or you could go three miles uphill one day and 12 miles over varied terrain the next day. The backpacks can weigh 55+ pounds. Remember, PHYSICAL PREPARATION IS KEY!
Specifics: During your course, you will be backpacking approximately six to eight days.
Specifics: Weather permitting, you may spend up to three days canoeing on the French Broad or Tuckaseegee Rivers
Here are some books that we encourage you to read as you plan for your course:
Please review the Application & Cancelation Policies.
If your payment is not received by the due date listed in your Application Portal, you will risk losing your position on the course and your $500 deposit.
While in the mountains, each crew will be given large tarps* to set up as shelters. You will also be given a ground sheet and a foam sleeping pad to place under your sleeping bag.
*Due to COVID-19, participants will have physically distanced sleeping arrangements. For courses longer than 7 days, sleeping arrangements may be adjusted after week 1, based on receipt of negative test results from day 1 testing.