Out & About: Outdoor adventures

WHAT: When a walk to the Biopond or a stroll through Penn Park can no longer satisfy your wanderlust, the Outdoor Adventure division of the Penn Recreation Department can provide a menu of hikes, climbs, and other outings that will take you to forests, mountains, and riversides near Philadelphia.

EVERY WEEKEND: Whether it’s a day hike, an introduction to ice-climbing, backpacking, or skiing, the Outdoor Adventure crew has something scheduled for every weekend of the spring semester. You can find a calendar listing the events, the cost, and how to register at www.upenn.edu/recreation/outdoor.

ONE AND DONE: Most of the adventures are designed as one-day outings, leaving early in the morning and returning in the evening. Participants can choose to go snowboarding, ice-climbing, or cross-country skiing (if there is snow) at the Blue Mountain Ski Area in the Poconos, or hiking on a portion of the Appalachian Trail. The events are open to the entire Penn community, and membership to Pottruck is not required, although members pay a reduced price.

SLEEP-OVERS: Now and then there is an overnight trip on the event calendar. On Feb. 24-25, the crew will take cross-country skiers to New Paltz, NY, for a couple of days of sliding on groomed trails. Yahya Abdul-Qaadir, assistant director of the Outdoor Adventure programs, says enthusiasts of all skill levels are welcome. All the gear will be provided, and guides will teach beginners how to do the traditional “kick and stride.” Lodging is included in the price of the trip.

NOT THE RITZ: While overnight adventures include lodging, don’t expect to be laying your head on expensive pillowcases. As part of the ice climbing and cross-country skiing trips, participants bed down at a local youth hostel. For the backpacking trip, plan to camp out. 

ON THE ROCKS: For climbing adventurers, experienced and certified climbers are always on hand to teach participants technique, and because each person is given individual attention, registration for these outings is limited to six people. No experience is necessary. “All we require is a positive attitude,” says Abdul-Qaadir.

WALKING THE LINE: The most popular outings are hiking and backpacking trips to portions of the Appalachian Trail. Walkers get a workout trekking to a summit point called The Pinnicle, near the town of Hamburg, Pa., which rises 1,000 feet above rural valleys and woodlands. Another popular hike takes participants to the glacial waters of Sunfish Pond at the Delaware Water Gap in New Jersey.

BROWN BAG IT: For the hikes and backpacking trips, Abdul-Qaadir recommends participants wear sturdy shoes and bring two liters of water along with a bag lunch. Just for fun, Abdul-Qaadir has started a video series called “What’s for lunch?” on the Outdoor Adventure Facebook page, in which he interviews hikers about their hoagies, hummus, and PB & Js. Be prepared to flash your food on camera and say a few words about your repast.