Wilderness adventure

Chico State programs to get you out and about.

Catacombs at the Lava Beds

Catacombs at the Lava Beds

Photo Courtesy of Lava beds national monument

Incoming Chico State students can experience thrills and adventures beyond Finding Classes 101 and Roommate Drama 103. Several local programs and organizations offer opportunities to get students off campus and into the wild.

Chico Bound is a part of Chico State’s Associated Students and helps freshmen experience various outdoor activities.

The program is designed to help new students get connected to the university by making friends and challenging themselves during a host of adventures, such as a three-day expedition on the Sacramento River, a two-day whitewater-rafting trip on the Trinity River, and a four-day trip to Mendocino for hiking and canoeing.

Vanessa Wight, a recreation and outdoor-education major from Santa Rosa, has spent two years working with the program. She actually started canoeing when she was a little girl, but it wasn’t until a trip last year on Big River in Mendocino that she realized how much she loved it. During the four-day adventure, Wight, who helped lead the excursion, saw a variety of water fowl, seals, river otters and a lot of fish.

“It was a great experience,” said Wight, who is leading this year’s program. “We paddled upstream from the river’s mouth and I saw the wildlife come out with the rising tide.”

In addition to making friends and enjoying the outdoors, students gain experience working in teams, problem solving and other skills that will help them during their college experience. Chico Bound trips are mostly geared toward beginners, so even students with no experience on the water can have an enjoyable adventure.

“There are ripples and a little whitewater, but nothing extreme,” Wight said.

For the more daring incoming student, Chico Bound offers one Class III trip for river rafting on the Trinity River, located north of Redding. Because of its difficulty level, the excursion is led by an experienced Adventure Outings guide. (Guides for river trips have to go through a nine-day training process and pass a peer assessment.)

Chico Bound lasts from June to July, but the end of the program is not the end of adventures for Chico students.

For anyone interested in focusing exclusively on water-based activities, the Forebay Aquatic Center within the Thermalito North Forebay State Park at Lake Oroville offers a variety of options. The facility’s water and boating programs are operated by the Associated Students in cooperation with the California departments of Parks and Recreation, Water Resources, and Boating and Waterways.

North Forebay

Photo Courtesy of forebay aquatic center

About a 20-minute drive from Chico, the center is open to the public and offers courses from early spring into fall, as well as equipment rentals. Chico State students get a discounted rate for all rentals and classes. Prices range from $12 for kayaking to $120 for an intro to sailing. The center is also home to the Forebay Sailing and Rowing clubs.

Adventure Outings, another Associated Students program, leads a variety of trips throughout the school year. The program, which has offices in the Bell Memorial Union, offers many different types of outdoor recreation.

Marni Merrill, a former assistant leader at the organization, said that Chico State students can look forward to caving, backpacking, mountain biking, surfing and rafting trips during the upcoming academic year.

Merrill was introduced to Adventure Outings when she went kayaking on the Trinity River through the Chico Bound program. Her favorite activities are backpacking and caving. A Chico native and biology major, she led trips for three years prior to her graduation in the spring.

North Forebay

Photo Courtesy of forebay aquatic center

Among her favorite places to visit are the catacombs at the Lava Beds National Monument, located near the California-Oregon border. The caving excursion is quite a challenge.

“The catacombs are really intense and extensive and by the time you make it out of the cave you are exhausted,” Merrill said. “It’s not like other sports that you can just take a break or stop once you get across the river. Once you enter a cave, you can’t stop until you get out.”

Of course, the Chico area is home to Bidwell Park and a number of other beautiful places to explore. But for those looking to enjoy activities with a group, a variety of opportunities abound through the university.

“It’s great to be a part of the outdoors, even if you are a beginner, and share your experience with others,” Merrill said.