Into the wild

The Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) and Outdoor Recreation Center (OC) at WSU are hosting a weekend backpacking trip with a spin: to preserve the Jerry Johnson Hot Springs.

Matt Wagner, coordinator at the Outdoor Programs and Climbing Wall, hopes students and community members will seize the opportunity to explore the environment with this trip.

“Its purpose is to get people out in the wilderness and give back to the land management agencies,” Wagner said.

The trip will take place on the weekend of Nov. 1-3. Project facilitators will bring hikers through an area of the Bitterroot Wilderness, just outside of Montana, on a trail rebuilding and preservation project.

“It’s a beautiful location, and it’s unique,” Wagner said. “It’s not your typical trip for backpacking.”

Tiffanie Braun, assistant director for the CCE, said the center takes pride in engaging students in service and combining outdoor activities with taking care of the land.

“The critical thing to us is the opportunity to connect students to the land we recreate in,” Braun said. “A sense of place is something we definitely highlight in one of our eco-adventures.”

She said the CCE and ORC have been planning eco-adventures for about eight years.

“I think the main feedback we get is how transformational it was for them and how it changed their perception of place and their own connection to these natural areas in our community,” she said.

Braun said students often take pride in acting as stewards caring for preserved wild areas.

“This is an amazing opportunity to see some of the more beautiful areas in our local environment; to experience the natural hot springs and to learn more about the geography and wilderness areas within pretty close distance to WSU,” Braun said.

Josh Lloyd, an adventure facilitator at the ORC is excited for another fall season backpacking trip.

“The thought behind these trips is that we want to contribute to the community,” Lloyd said. “They go along the principle ‘Leave no trace.’ We want people to be able to enjoy these resources 30 years from now.”

Lloyd said most people misinterpret the purpose of the trips as purely working trips; hikers are actually going out together and picking up pieces of trash they see along the way.

“Go out and go hiking and see a hot spring,” Lloyd said. “Clean up the area, because that’s what we do, and it’s not strenuous. We don’t expect anyone to have the skills going into it.”

The facilitators are expecting a fun time and hope to see a full trip. The rosters are currently completely open.

Lloyd is especially looking forward to hiking when it’s cool and then soaking in the hot springs in the chill of the evening.

Wagner said it’s all about helping maintain the natural beauty of wilderness areas.

“My hopes for the trip is for it to give people a better connection to the natural environment and appreciate the land management agencies,” Wagner said.

Sign-ups for the hot springs backpacking trip are due online at by Sunday, Oct. 27. Attendance fees are $95 for ORC members and $125 for non-members.

This trip will have a pre-trip orientation Oct. 30 at 6 p.m. in the ORC. All travelers will get a break down of supplies to bring and answers to backpacking questions.

The ORC will also be traveling to the Olympic National Park Nov. 9 and the Grand Canyon for Thanksgiving break. For more information, interested adventurers can visit the ORC website.