September 17, 2019
Written by Katy Ward
Have you ever thought to yourself: “I would like to spend more time outdoors, but I don’t know where to start?” Well now is the perfect opportunity to try some new things and find your niche in the outdoors! Liberty University Outdoor Recreation is participating in the AORE Campus Challenge, and we want to help you get active outside.
What is the Campus Challenge?
The AORE Campus Challenge is a “March-Madness-meets-Mother Nature” competition in which 98 universities compete to see who can get the most people outside.
Sounds cool! How do I get involved?
We tried to make it all clear and easy on our website. First, you need to download the Campus Challenge app and create an account. When creating your account, make sure to select Liberty University as your sponsor school so the hours get logged into our group. Second, log all of your outdoor activities on the app. The contest runs September 16 until October 13.
What kind of activities can I log?
Almost any activity outside can be logged! Kayaking, hammocking, running, caving, hiking, gardening, skateboarding/longboarding, and many other activities can be logged for points towards Campus Challenge. All activities must be participated in for a minimum of 30 minutes and you can log up to 5 activities per day.
Can I bring a friend?
Absolutely! Anyone and everyone is invited and encouraged to participate. Even your parents and your parents’ friends can join in the fun. Our goal is to get as many people outside as possible, our focus is the Liberty community, but all are welcome. Plus, you get bonus points if you log a group activity!
Where can I participate in these activities?
As long as you are outside, it does not matter where you complete them. Around Liberty, you have lots of options! There’s Hydaway, where you can hike, bike, hammock, swim, kayak, paddleboard, play volleyball, and much more. We also offer outdoor adventure trips through Outdoor Recreation, such as white-water rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, mountain biking, fly fishing, and other options. Even with those options, there are plenty of opportunities around Lynchburg for these activities to take place.
Are you looking for a trip to take this weekend and log some activity? How about a short little overnight out to the Peaks of Otter Campground? This campground is located close to Sharp Top and Flat Top, two of the most popular hikes around Lynchburg, and there is also a lake nearby the facility, providing even more opportunities for activities to log. An overnight camping trip to Peaks of Otter Campground could go a little something like this:
3:00pm – Leave after class, head for campground
4:00pm – Get to campground and set up camp. Explore the campground for a little while, go bird-watching or look for wildlife.
6:30pm – Hike Sharp Top and watch the sunset from the peak.
8:00pm – Get back to campsite and start a fire, roast some marshmallows and play some card games
10:00pm – Quiet hours start, so find a cozy place to look at the stars for awhile
11:00pm – Retire to tents for a great night’s sleep
8:00am – Get up, start a little fire, cook breakfast, and drink some strong coffee to start the day
9:00am – Check out Abbot Lake for a couple hours. Play some games, chill in a hammock, go fishing.
1:00pm – Go for a bike ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway
3:00pm – Clean up camp and get ready to head out.
6:00om– Back to LU for dinner with friends.
This trip alone will give you the opportunity to log 37 points on Friday and 42 points on Saturday, that could be 79 points, per person! We would love it if you would participate with us and help encourage everyone to get outside and learn new things!
August 28, 2019
Written by Tim Lewis
Fall trips are underway! We have been hard at work providing diverse and exciting outdoor experiences! We have already put on 4 trips, but have a whole lot left to facilitate. Are you looking for a bit more information on each of our trips? Look no further, I am sure that we have one that may interest you.
9/6-8 Beach Camping
Every year we venture to First Landing State Park to enjoy one last beach trip before the end of summer! This accessible yet secluded park offers private access to the beach as well as many hiking and biking trails. Our weekend will consist of campfires, hammocking, SUPing, biking, and relaxing on the beach with all meals provided for $50!
9/14 Horseback Riding
Each semester we enjoy a trip to Reba Farm Inn & Saddle Soar in Bedford, VA. This privately owned farm offers students a unique chance to ride rescued and rehabilitated horses in a beautiful mountain setting. This unique Western riding experience also allows for a chance to run your horse and learn confidence by leading your horse on the trail. Register for only $25!
9/20-21 Whitewater Rafting
Fall is Gauley season in West Virginia! This world-class whitewater mecca is only available for a few weeks out of the year and we take advantage of it. Alpine Ministries provides us with expert instruction and facilitation down the river and provides us with a delicious lunch and devotional on the river bank. Spots fill up quickly, so be sure to secure your spot as soon as possible! Register for only $60!
We are a river loving crew at Outdoor Rec! This classic paddle will take us to the Upper James River where we will paddle 6 miles from Buchanan to Arcadia. This classic trip features several Class I-II rapids and mountain views. Transportation, food, and instruction for only $10!
9/28 Rock Climbing
This is the first year we have booked an all-day rock climbing trip! This trip will take us to Wintergreen Mountain where we will sport climb with Urban Mountain Adventures! Transportation, food, and instruction for only $25!
9/28 Mountain Biking Trip
We will be heading to Falling Creek Park in Bedford, VA for a fun day of mountain biking on trails and testing your skills on their obstacle course! This beautiful park offers a plethora of outdoor recreation opportunities and is a great location for both beginner and experienced bikers. Transportation, lunch, and instruction all provided for $10!
10/3-6 Fall Break: Whitewater Kayaking
Looking for a multi-day adventure in the outdoors? This trip will take to West Virginia to paddle the New River where you will encounter rapids up to Class III! We will be paddling and training for the river by day and camping in nearby Babcock State Park and enjoying good food and campfires by night. If this sounds up your alley, sign up today! Transportation, food, and instruction for only $60!
10/3-6 Fall Break: Wilderness Canoe Camping
This year we are dusting off an old classic! Have you ever wondered what it would be like to travel by water with enough camping supplies and food for several days? You will learn how on this trip. Starting at Horseshoe Bend on the James River, we will canoe by day and camp along the river by night, travelling 30 miles by the time we reach our destination of Glasgow, VA! Transportation, food, and instruction for only $60!
10/12 Fly Fishing
Come enjoy a full day of professionally guided fly fishing on the Piney River at Rivenridge Lodge. Angler’s Lane hosts LU each semester at this pristine lodge and teaches us how to cast, select the right flies, and catch beautiful native trout. This trip got me started in the sport years ago and it can for you as well. Transportation, food, and instruction for only $25!
10/26 Sunrise Hike
Be the first to see the sunrise from beautiful Cole Mountain! This trip features a short hike to an open mountain meadow where eastern and western views can be observed. Transportation, food, and instruction for only $10!
11/12 Moonlight Horseback Riding
We love it when we get to visit Reba Farm Inn & Saddle Soar twice in one semester! This time we are going at night to enjoy the full moon. Slip into the fall spirit and come enjoy a moonlight ride followed by a cozy bonfire at the foot of the Peaks of Otter. Transportation, food, and instruction for only $25!
For this trip we will be exploring Tawney’s Cave near Blacksburg, VA! The James River Grotto is kind of enough to lead us into the underground labyrinth of the cave and show us a new way to adventure. We will provide headlights, food, and transportation. All you need to bring is your sense of adventure and a change of clothes. Transportation, food, and instruction for only $10!
August 28, 2019
Written by Luke Whitmire
Conservation is a topic that is coming more into the limelight as we continue to realize that our actions are negatively impacting the environment around us. As the conversation continues to escalate, it naturally gravitates towards the bigger issues, such as large-scale manufacturers and consumer habits. While these conversations are important, they can often distract us, as individuals, and what we can do in order to further conservation efforts.
One way to get involved and make a difference in conservation is to change your daily habits and consumer practices in order to favor environmentally friendly pursuits. How do you decide what clothes you buy? What food you are going to eat? Every time you make a purchase, you are “voting” with your money. Just as you should be conscious in the political sphere with your vote and know what a politician stands for, you should be conscious with your money, and support businesses and purchasing practices that support values that you care about.
Here are a few things that you may want to consider:
- Buy local, in-season, organically grown produce. It increases nutrients, biodiversity, promotes a connection to food, and local farms often pursue farming habits that are more friendly to the soil, crops, insects, and your produce. Check out the documentary Sustainable.
- Animal agriculture, mainly red meat sources such as cattle, are responsible for the second most greenhouse emissions in the world, including 18% of global CO2 emissions, as well as 37% of methane emissions. Reducing your red meat intake by eating more chicken, fish, and considering plant-based protein alternatives can all help to reduce your environment impact. Check out these articles on a sustainable food future.
- Take time to research companies before you buy gear, clothing, cars, and so on. Look for companies that have green initiatives and release reports on their environmental impact and sustainability efforts. Support companies that are open about the impact they have and their vision for sustainability. Here are just a few great examples: MSR, Ford, Starbucks.
Businesses and manufacturers pay attention to your purchasing habits. Companies spent $76 billion worldwide on market research in 2017. They want to listen to what we have to say. Let us leave complacency behind and make conscious decisions to use our voices and our money to move together towards conservation and being better stewards of our beloved earth.
July 11, 2019
Written by Joe Frey
I was not always an outdoors enthusiast. Sure, I loved being outside playing catch or going for a swim, but when it came to going on a hike to an overlook or kayaking in the bay I began thinking of excuses for why I “couldn’t go.” If I’m being honest it wasn’t for a lack of motivation, it just didn’t really sound fun.
Fast forward a few years and I am in high school. I had various social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) and noticed my friends posting amazing pictures and awesome things in the outdoors. So that Christmas I asked for a GoPro. An indestructible camera that magically motivated me to go explore and seek out the next post for my Instagram. Many of you who are reading this may have experienced this same drive. I found myself seeking the next adrenaline rush simply to capture the video or picture. Regardless of whether the desire was for status or for excitement, I wasn’t exploring to appreciate God’s incredible creation. I just wanted to snap the perfect photo.
Looking at the pictures I have taken over the years, it was clear that I broke many rules to capture more than a few of them. I was oblivious to the “No Trespassing” and “Danger” signs that are posted, much like many other adventurers. But why do we lose our ability to process risk? Are we trying to better appreciate God’s creation? Or are we just trying to gain social clout? The reason I am writing this blog is to call many of you out, as I wish somebody would have called me out years ago on my ego-driven, dangerous, “gram-worthy” decisions. Pictures circulate the internet of people cliff jumping, sitting at the top of waterfalls, and hanging off cliffs. All of these are extremely dangerous and often illegal. By posting them yourself, you are encouraging others to take these unnecessary risks as well.
Recently the National Park Service has been conducting research to determine why so many young people are dying in the outdoors and one of the main reasons is to take pictures. Nearby us at Liberty University they have been doing this same research at Crabtree Falls which continues to see a high rate for incidents. The 1,200 ft waterfall is infamous for the many lives that it has claimed.
Next time you want to #betheadventure, leave the camera at home. Appreciate creation for its beauty, not for your own fame. Enjoy the moment and process the experience. A story for your close friends carries more weight than a hundred momentary likes. There is no need to put your life in danger for a few followers on your account.
Stories continue to surface of hikers climbing the fences to capture a one of a kind pictures, but at what price? In my opinion, this epidemic needs to stop. It’s not just a problem at Liberty, it’s a problem everywhere. So, let’s create awareness, at Liberty we are starting a “Safe Hiking” campaign where we are featuring some of the most popular hikes in the area and giving detailed instructions on how to be safe and enjoy God’s creation. Join us in communicating this culture and help us promote the #hikesafe mentality. I would encourage everyone to leave the camera at home next time you enjoy this amazing world we live in.
July 1, 2019
Running through college
Written by Danielle Ledgerwood
We take pride in the fact that our Liberty Mountain Trail Series provides a way for new runners from the community to learn and gain a sense of familiarity with the sport of trail running. But we also love that the series gives Liberty students an outlet to use their competitive high school running careers in college.
At only 18 years old, Marina Iodice was our youngest LMTS finisher this past year. In her first year as a residential student at Liberty studying American Sign Language Interpretation, she ran all five races in our trail series in addition to Harvest After Dark, our short distance, Halloween-themed fun-run.
Her results in each of the 5 LMTS races were as follows:
Deep Hollow 5K: 4th in Female age group 14-19
Valley View 5 Miler: 3rd in Female age group 14-19
Reindeer Run: 3rd in Female age group 14-19
Arctic 5K: 4th in Female in age group 14-19
King of the Mountain: 5th Female in age group 14-19
Marina has been running for most of her life, and she started seriously competing around 5 years ago, when she ran track and field and cross country in high school. “I personally think running is fun,” she said. “What motivates me to run is the feeling of accomplishment after I finish a workout or race. I never found the time in college to be consistent with it, but the races gave me an opportunity to do that.”
She enjoys both the tough competition at LMTS races and the less competitive, casual events, like the Turkey Trot in her hometown on Thanksgiving Day. “This race helps raise funds for cancer research and also allows people to make room for Thanksgiving dinner.”
Her advice for anyone just getting into running would be to find their own pace and start slow. “Many professional runners have been training for years, so you shouldn’t compare yourself to other runners,” she encouraged. “Don’t focus on the number aspect of your time. Just be aware of that number and try to improve it slowly each time you practice.”
For more experienced athletes, she offered some advice for when your workout routine feels like it’s stuck in a rut: “Try to expand their drills and techniques. Maybe add more distance than usual, or try shorter distances at a faster pace. The internet is full of running videos with new ideas to try. Don’t be afraid to push yourself because you can always do more than you think.”
June 25, 2019
Written by Carter Brackman
I love Virginia.
The first memory that I have of myself enjoying the beauty of Virginia was when I was six years old. My family and I drove up from Charlotte to visit my grandparents. I remember my granddad taking my brother, my golden retriever (Bunker), and I to the Peaks of Otter. The eight hours that we spent driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway, jumping into swimming holes, and exploring seemed to pass in an instant. This day is still one of my favorite memories as I reflect on my life. Even as a six year old, I saw that this world was meant to be enjoyed and loved. If there was ever a single state that make this clear, Virginia is it.
If you’ve spent any significant amount of time in the state, you will create meaningful experiences and utter these 3 words of sentiment. “I love Virginia”. It is literally the slogan for our state. Virginia is for lovers! Virginians are not just proud of this idea, but use it as their main promotion as it can be seen entering the state on every welcome sign.
LOVEworks around Virginia
So the question arises, “how does Virginia plan to show this concept for all people to see? Well it is obvious, look for the signs. I don’t mean the dramatic, intangible signs that you would look for when diagnosing a cold. I mean literal, massive love signs! If you have driven through different parts of Virginia you may have seen these “love signs”. They are unique, handmade signs that spell out “L-O-V-E”.
There are two primary purposes for the love signs:
- To show what makes that specific area of the state unique.
- To encourage people to explore parts of Virginia that they may never visit apart from searching for the sign.
For those of us who reside in Lynchburg, you may have seen the love sign near Percival’s Island in downtown Lynchburg. The L has foot cut-outs for walking/hiking. The O has bicycle wheels for the bike trials in the area. The V has two canoe paddles attached to highlight water activities on the James River. The E has skateboard wheels for the skate park right down the street. There is story to be told with each sign and it is up to the traveler to find their tale.
Plan your LOVE Trip
If you are the type of person who enjoys discovering new things and experiencing new places, this is a great opportunity to explore new places! It is an extremely fun activity to do with a group of friends on a free day. Now you may be thinking, “wow this sounds fun but it seems pointless to drive all those miles just to see a sign.” Just let me stop you right there. The beauty and joy is that destination is not the only goal. The goal is to see new places which occurs primarily on the journey there, not just the destination. Some of the most beautiful parts of Virginia are found in the most unexpected towns and places. These love signs just gives you a reason to stop and come back home.
Virginia.org makes it super easy to plan your trip! I recommend choosing a love sign as your final destination and trying to hit as many other signs as you can on the way there.
But remember, it’s not about hitting all the signs! Stop and eat at a unique little restaurant, take pictures at that beautiful overlook off the Blue Ridge Parkway. And most of all, soak in every new adventure. Act as Greg Anderson once said, “focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.”
June 17, 2019
A family that runs together…
Written by Mike Ellsworth
Tina’s family moved to Lynchburg from Buffalo and knew that they wanted to connect to the University and the community. They found that by running the Liberty Mountain Trail Series. They also found a great new way to connect as a family.
Tina was new to running on trails, but not new to the sport. She had been a runner for 36 years, but with easy access to beautiful trails, it was very quickly became habitual for Tina to hit the woods for those moments of peace. “I like them better than just running on the flat road and pounding. I enjoy it a lot more…” She later mentioned how the quiet alone time that she spends on the trails acts as her downtime, where she makes time for prayer and peace.
Running for 36 years, Tina has always used running as an anchor to hold her life together. Though she has always been a competitive and fast runner, it was always the joy of the run, not the outcome of the competition that she seemed to reflect on during our conversation. “It has always been a quiet time for me” she says. Through marriage, raising children, a move to Lynchburg and a battle with breast cancer, running has seemed to act as the consistent fuel to keep her connected to God and help her refocus.
Trail running has turned into a family affair for the Chriest’s. Tina and her husband Steve both completed the entire series and with their two college-aged children, the family ran 4/5 races together. “We used to have the kids on a bike and they would try to keep up with us. Now, life has gone on and they are leaving us behind.” Though the whole family doesn’t love running in the same capacity, it still is time for them to be together. Tina’s favorite LMTS memory of course involves her kids. She mentioned the King of the Mountain as her favorite event, when asked why, she responded very quickly, “My kids did really well in that. My son, Wyatt ran with a 40lb weight, which was pretty cool.”
Tina and her family are looking forward to another season of trail running at Liberty, be sure to say hello if you see her training for the next race!
June 17, 2019
Written by Linda Galvez
“When an eighty-five pound mammal licks your tears away, then tries to sit on your lap, it’s hard to feel sad.”
Kristan Higgins (author, In Your Dreams)
As a pet owner, I’m always searching for dog friendly places to bring my best pal, Eli.
A little bit about Eli, he is a 92 lbs. “force of nature”, becomes friends with any human who pets him, and loves other dogs big and small. He fears nothing, but can also be the biggest baby in the room. Eli has extensive amounts of energy which when controlled can be so much fun, but when left to his own devices can be a terror. Which is why I have found training techniques which allow us to enjoy the outdoors in a safe and fun way! On my days off, I love coming back to Hydaway and bringing Eli with me to run trails or go swimming. We welcome all dogs at Hydaway and encourage all owners to be in control of their pets while visiting our facility!
Eli and I enjoy running Lake Trail, Trail Too Far, and Lasso and then jumping into the water to cool down after. When we’re not on Liberty Mountain, we enjoy driving to Black Water Creek Trail or Percival’s Island downtown. On nice cool days you can find us at any dog friendly restaurant with outdoor seating. Some of our favorites include El Jefe, The Waterdog, Chipotle, and Millie’s. On weekends I like to work on projects and love to bring Eli on shopping trips to Home Depot and Lowe’s with me, we love going to the gardening section and looking at all the plants. Since I travel home to Charlottesville often, we always go to the Downtown Mall where Eli gets so much stimulation from all the people, dogs, noises and smells. A walk through the Downtown Mall always guarantees a long hard nap when we get home! Some of our next adventures include hiking Mount Pleasant, beach camping at First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach, and rollerblading at Black Water Creek this summer!
If you’re considering spending time in the outdoors with your furry pal, below are a few “dos and don’ts” for dogs in the outdoors:
- Do keep an eye on your dog at all times! There are all sorts of animals and plants in the outdoors (bears, hornets, and poisonous toads, bigger and more aggressive dogs) and if not deterred by a barricade or fence these factors could be a serious threats to our pups! The elements and temperature can also poise great danger to your pets, a good rule of thumb is if it is too hot or cold for you to be comfortable, it’s too severe for your dog.
- Do pick up after your pet! No, your dog’s waste is not good for the earth. Wildlife scat is beneficial to its ecosystem because they consume resources and nutrients directly from that ecosystem. Here’s a great article from Leave No Trace as to why you should be picking up after Fido!
- Do keep your dog on-leash! Unless your dog has an incredible re-call or you as an owner have voice control over your dog, I encourage everyone to keep their pets leashed. It can be such a danger and liability to lose control of your dog if not properly socialized or trained.
- Don’t forget the right equipment. Pet stores like Chewy have a variety of options for doggy backpacks which allows your dog to carry his own water, water bowl, etc. If your dog isn’t bred to swim, consider investing in a personal flotation device for your dog.
- Don’t start too young! Short walks and play time is recommended for small breed puppies up to 9 months and 16 months for large breeds. Kiddie pools are great for puppies and small dogs that enjoy water!
- Don’t start too hard! Start slowly with short distances, just like us dogs need time to build up their stamina and energy.
Always check the local rules before you go somewhere new with your dog, it keeps them safe and you prepared.
Finally, one of the factors that has made all of these adventures and activities possible for me and Eli is that he’s very well socialized and trained. I encourage every dog owner to go through some basic training before planning any outdoor adventure!
Hope you enjoy pictures of our fur-friends at Outdoor Rec!
June 5, 2019
A Time to Connect
Written by Danielle Ledgerwood
Running, for Shelley, started after attending other races and watching a friend compete, so she decided to try it herself. She really enjoyed the environment at those events and knew that they’d help her to grow as a person, in more ways than one. Shelley Stephens has now been an avid runner for 13 years.
“I’ve always been introverted and have kept to myself,” Shelley admitted. “I noticed that being around people with the same interests pushed me to talk to others.”
Her time spent running on the Liberty Mountain Trail System also helped her reconnect with her husband Mark after they divorced in 2000. They’ve used their time on the trails to spend time getting to know each other better and to listen to what the Lord is saying to them. Since then, they’ve been remarried for 11 years.
“We developed a bond, and I think he started to gain a certain amount of respect for me, seeing that I was really pushing myself.” Recently, 4 back surgeries have prevented her husband from running, but they can still hike and bike together.
Shelley has definitely been pushing herself. In the 2018-2019 Liberty Mountain Trail Series, she won the female master’s category at the Deep Hollow Half Marathon, the Arctic 5k, and King of the Mountain, plus a 3rd overall female finish at Reindeer Run (pictured above).
She’s gained a sense of familiarity with these courses over time, as she’s been running our trail races since 2014. And even when she’s not competing in a race, she’s still out on the trails. Whether it’s with a friend or her labra-doodle Bella, she likes getting out there.
“Running has given me a sense of peace,” Shelley said. “I feel alive out in the woods. My favorite trail is Trail Too Far, it has a nice incline up to the top of Donahue.”
She also mentioned how much she appreciates the opportunity to participate. Shelley has no connection to Liberty University; she’s a local Lynchburg native who enjoys running. Luckily, our races are open to the public.
“I’m grateful to have run the whole series,” Shelley said. “I’ve made some amazing friends. And I don’t take walking or running for granted.”
June 3, 2019
Written by Maria Campanella
College and hammocks seem to go hand in hand. We’ve got so many opportunities here at Liberty to hang and relax in a hammock. We have put together a full checklist for all your hammock needs. In order to make your day the most effective, these are all the things you need to know!
- Snacks (lots of snacks)
- Laptop (Netflix Binge anyone???)
- Hammock and Straps (obviously)
Locations on Campus
Liberty has some great spots on campus to set up your hammock without having to worry about driving somewhere! Idea number one is the trees by the South Tower and behind the quad’s laundry room, that is an underappreciated spot that can be forgotten about. Some other options include the trees in front of the circle dorms and the trees right next to the tunnel entrance on your way to east. I’m sure there are many more spots, but these are some good ones for hammocking newbies.
Everyone knows of ENO of course, and I would highly recommend their brand. ENO actually stands for Eagles Nest Outfitters and they are the company that sparked the “hype”, if you will, around hammocking culture and they were the first to design the double nest hammock. ENO was founded in 1999 and are now the leading company of the product. They started selling the hammocks out of a van and quickly grew to their home base in Asheville, NC. ENO values adventure and encourages Leave No Trace principles and preserving the beauty of the outdoors. They also plant two trees for every hammock purchased, fun fact! They are a company that practices what they preach and are a wonderful brand to support!
Places at Hydaway
In case you didn’t know, at Hydaway Outdoor Recreation we rent out ENO hammocks at our Outfitter! They are free to use them at our facility for LU students! We have several grouping of posts set up just for hammocks called “Hammock Haven.” It is a perfect spot designed specifically for relaxing in your hammock. We also have around 60 miles of trails on the mountain with plenty of trees to set up on! My personal favorite trail is Clear Cut, it has a beautiful overlook and is very peaceful, a great place to spend a day. Come see us on August 15 when we open for the fall semester and enjoy these great features we have to offer!