Students create adventure clubBy Tara Massouleh | 04/07/2014 11:19pm
As days get warmer in the spring semester and schedules become free without the pull of Alabama football, many students begin looking for alternative ways to spend their weekends. Students Kyle Robinson and Cole Felix have found their outlet through the unofficial Outdoor Adventures Club they started on Facebook a month ago.
“A couple of my friends and I had been going out hiking and rock climbing on the weekends, and we started doing it a lot more this semester because we have more free time now that football is over,” Robinson said. “We were just looking to invite more people to come.”
Robinson, a freshman majoring in biology from Houston, Texas, said before he started finding places to climb and hike around Tuscaloosa, he thought the city was really boring. As a fellow out-of-state student, Felix, a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering, said he felt the same pull to become plugged into outdoor life in and around the University.
“[The group] is a way for outdoorsy people who don’t know what to do around here to have the ability to go find things to do,” he said. “I did a ton back home, but then once I got here, I went hiking maybe once my freshman year. I didn’t know where to go or who to go with. Since there are so many out-of-state people, a lot of people don’t know where to go in Alabama for the fun stuff.”
The group can be found on Facebook under the name “Unofficial University of Alabama Outdoor Adventures Club.” Members of the group were initially just friends of Felix and Robinson, but since then the group has grown to where Felix and Robinson now only personally know about one-third of its current 33 members.
Rather than going on trips planned through Outdoor Rec, Felix said he prefers to plan his own trips so he can fit them into his schedule and spend less money. Trips organized by Outdoor Rec can cost anywhere from $30 for a day trip to $150 for a weekend trip. Members of the Outdoor Adventures Club spend far less.
“I think we ended up spending $5 per person,” Felix said. “Instead of having to rent stuff through the Rec, we all just borrow gear from each other, and that makes it a lot cheaper.”
Since forming, the Outdoor Adventures Club has taken two trips to hike and climb at the Preserve in Hoover, Ala., and Palisades Park in Blount County, Ala., just north of Birmingham. The group plans to take a weekend trip to Sand Rock in northeast Alabama to climb, hike and cave before the semester ends.
Although both Robinson and Felix have been climbing since high school and regularly practice at the indoor climbing wall in the Student Recreation Center, members of the Outdoor Adventures Club do not have to have experience in rock climbing to come on trips.
“I wouldn’t even say I’m all that experienced,” Robinson said. “I learned as we went along this year. The first time we went to Palisades, I had never set up safety gear or anything, and I kind of just picked it up from watching people.”
For first-time climbers, Felix said there isn’t much that can be taught.
“If they’re on the wall and we’re belaying for them, there’s not anything they can do that’s dangerous,” he said. “Climbing is intuitive, so we just let them do it.”
Robinson said he enjoys climbing because it is challenging for both the mind and body.
“Climbing is kind of like puzzle-solving,” he said. “You get better at it pretty fast, so it’s cool to see your progress. It’s also a good way to work out without even realizing you’re working out because it’s so much fun.”
Robinson and Felix said they plan to keep the group unofficial in order to encourage more people to join. They hope it will eventually become a place where they can not only plan trips for themselves, but others can organize their own trips and spread the word about good places to hike, climb and camp.
“We’re really not trying to make a huge organization, just a group of people to meet up and do fun stuff,” Felix said. “If anyone is even remotely interested in doing outdoor stuff, they should just join it.”