Tag Archives: outings

Caving Trip

Ben Taylor

Ben Taylor,
Senior, Industrial and Systems Engineering

Athens, OH 9 April 2014 – I’m sure many people wouldn’t typically associate the terms “engineer” and “outdoorsman” with one another. And in my case, many people would be spot on with that assumption; I am an engineer, but by no means am I an outdoorsman. Sure, I love being outside on a nice day or playing a little sand volleyball in the summer months, but you certainly won’t find me running a 5k or hiking up a mountainside.

As my career at Ohio University is winding down, I thought that I needed to go outside of my comfort zone a little bit. One of my roommates is an outdoor recreation major and at the end of last semester he suggested that I enroll in a caving class for the current spring semester. He had gone on one of the trips before and said that it was quite an experience, so I decided to pull the trigger and sign up.

After a quick two weeks of classes in late February to early March, myself, eight other students (my roommate included), our teaching assistant (TA) Hunter, and our professor Matt (a super cool PhD student) were in a van driving to Radford, Virginia to face a weekend worth of camping and caving. After setting up camp and spending the night on Friday, we woke up early Saturday morning and drove to our first cave, Starnes.

Starnes is a cave deep in a hillside that is located on a farmer’s property just outside of Radford. We hiked about a half-mile through the farmer’s property and then rappelled down into the cave (after first obtaining the farmer’s permission, of course). The moment I entered the cave and got out of the sunlight, I could feel the presence of the cave’s immense darkness set in. Once you get a few hundred feet into the cave, climbing over rocks and through crevices, there is absolutely zero light and only darkness.

We all wore headlamps and carried two forms of backup light as a precaution, along with lunch, water, extra batteries, extra clothes, and empty bottles in case a bathroom transaction needed to be made (you can’t just go anywhere in a cave).

The experience of climbing through these caves with this group of students I barely knew was exciting and truly enjoyable. The instructor Matt did a great job making sure that we were all comfortable and led the group so that we not only were able to explore the caves ourselves and make our own decisions about where to explore, but also so we were able to get to know one another along the way and trust one another to have each other’s backs when we needed help.

The caves were extremely wet and the terrain was a constant struggle. You had to be very conscious of every step you took. Also, there were some areas, called “squeezes,” which were extremely narrow areas where you had to crawl army-style to get to the next open area (talk about claustrophobia). There was one particular squeeze that was so tight that you had to put one arm in front of you and one arm to your side and essentially nudge your way inch-by-inch through a 15-foot passageway into the next room. If I learned anything about myself on this trip, it was that I am not claustrophobic like I thought I was!

Caving truly was an incredible experience and I am glad I was able to take on the challenge with my roommate and other students from Ohio University. I will always remember that weekend in Radford, Virginia.

Backpacking Weekend with Outdoor Pursuits

Sarah Anderson

Sarah Anderson,
Senior, Industrial and Systems Engineering

Athens, OH 24 February 2014 – This past weekend was an opportunity for me to try something new – I went backpacking! Ohio University Outdoor Pursuits is an organization based within the Ping Recreation Center and is best known for operating the climbing wall at the entrance. They also offer many other services such as equipment rental and several trips of varying lengths and difficulty throughout the year. I’ve wanted to give backpacking a try for a while now so a (very reasonably priced) weekend Intro to Winter Backpacking trip sounded like just what I was looking for. Outdoor Pursuits supplied the food and any gear that I didn’t have and we were off to Zaleski State Forest.

The trip was even better than I had hoped. Despite the hike I signed up for, the weather was the surprise beautiful weather that Ohio sometimes decides to tease us with in February. The group had varying levels of experience, and we took the hike at a leisurely pace that gave us all a chance to stretch our legs after being cooped up inside during the last few cold weeks. We hiked out to a campsite and stayed the night there before traveling on to the site where we would camp Saturday night. Saturday afternoon was also probably the best nap of my life. Sunday morning we hiked out and were able to make it back to Athens about half an hour before it began to sleet. Can’t complain about that luck!

Outdoor Pursuits

Being unplugged from society for a couple of days was a fantastic escape from the fast-paced life of a college student. The seven of us were able to create our own schedule, spend unchecked amounts of time sitting admiring the fantastic views of Southeast Ohio, and swap stories while cooking simple meals around a campfire. It was refreshing to get away before coming back and getting a re-energized start on studying for midterms.

Construction Tour of the Nelsonville Bypass

Nick Sparks

Nick Sparks,
Junior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 19 November 2013 – The Nelsonville bypass is an 8.5 mile road around the city of Nelsonville, Ohio, not far from Ohio University in Athens. It was completed and open to the public in October 2013. About three weeks after completion my transportation class took a field trip to visit specific areas on the bypass so that we might have a better understand how designing and constructing a road way through a wooded area will impact the wildlife.

The ODOT officials who were responsible for overseeing the project went along so that they could explain what measures were taken to protect the wildlife. We made two stops throughout the trip, including one where we got to go under the road at an overpass and one so that the ODOT officials could explain and show how they are trying to reduce the number of deer on the road.

Our first stop was to see how the overpass was helping the wildlife. This overpass was put in for the animals so that they are able to cross under the road instead of having to cross on top of the road. Also the Wayne National Forest had built bat boxes and they were attached to the concrete under the overpass. (Click for a larger version of the image.)


Overpass across Deer Crossing on the Nelsonville Bypass

Our second stop was to see the deer fence. This fence travels along the entire length of the road on both sides and is eight feet tall. This is to prevent deer from getting onto the road way and getting hit by cars. This fence leads up to the overpass so that it acts like a funnel and is able to direct deer from one side to the other.

Interesting facts:
• 8.5 miles and cost over $160 million
• 26.6 million cubic yards of earthwork
• 18 bridges
• Over 200 thousand square yards of concrete pavement
• Over 150 thousand square yards of asphalt pavement

Basketball Season at Ohio

Steve Burns

Steve Burns,
Senior, Industrial and Systems Engineering

Athens, OH 28 January 2013 – Now that the new semester is here, I am very excited for the rest of Ohio University’s basketball season. The basketball games are a great way to have some fun and take a break from schoolwork during the week. These games have become one of my favorite activities here on campus because of the excitement that exists in the Convo during a close game and because of the large number of students that show up to each home game. Also, it doesn’t hurt that the basketball program here is not too shabby…and by not too shabby I mean defending MAC champions and a Sweet 16 run last season.

Not only are the home games a great time, road games can be even more fun. It’s great when enough people get together to make a trip to an away game. By far my favorite experience following the basketball team was when they were making a run into the NCAA tournament last season. A group of my friends and I went to the MAC championship game in Cleveland to watch Ohio win there, only to pack up shortly after and head to Nashville, Tennessee to watch the first round of tournament games. This is one of my favorite memories being a student here thus far. There were students and fans from schools across the country gathered in one central location to watch and cheer on their respective schools. The Ohio game versus Michigan was a thriller and one that I will never forget, both because of the win and the impressive number of OU students and supporters who made the trip to Nashville to cheer on the team.

So I’m pumped it is basketball season again and that conference games are underway. Hopefully the basketball team will have another incredible season because if they do I know I will be watching and along for the ride.

OU Hockey

Courtney Sterrick

Courtney Sterrick,
Junior, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 09 December 2012 – By far, my favorite weekend activity at Ohio University is attending the OU Club Hockey games. Prior to attending OU, I wasn’t the slightest bit interested in hockey and figured that not even in my wildest dreams would I regularly attend games. Well, I was wrong.

I was introduced to hockey as a member of the Chemical Engineering Learning Community. Each major’s Learning Community is led by one of the major’s professors and a peer-mentor (an upperclassman typically with the same major). Although all are organized a little differently, Learning Communities are designed to introduce freshmen with the same major to one another as well as familiarize them with the opportunities available at OU including student organizations, sporting events, and fine arts performances. The Chemical Engineering Learning Community requires students to attend a certain number of peer-mentor led activities.

At the time, I primarily decided to attend the hockey game to gain the class credit and hoped I wouldn’t be too bored in the process. Needless to say, the game was packed full of action–and was even funny! At one point near the end of the game, a giant fight broke out on the ice, and while the referees were trying to break it up, the announcer began playing “Why Can’t We Be Friends?”

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers has also attended hockey games as a group. Here is a picture of some Chemical Engineering Juniors who attended the Ohio vs. John Carroll game on September 21st:

OU Hockey

The Hockey Team’s schedule is one of the more intense especially considering the number of games played each season. Two games are played per weekend beginning in late September and running until March. The team is currently 17-3-2 and they played their last game of 2012 last night at Kent State–a 9-3 win. The next home game isn’t until January 18th—-a long, grueling wait for fans!