GV’s ‘wanderers’ appreciate wilderness, promote environmentalism

Courtesy Photo / Andy Constantino
Grand Valley Backpacking Club during a trip

Courtesy photo

Courtesy Photo / Andy Constantino Grand Valley Backpacking Club during a trip

Joel Campbell

As the world becomes more intertwined via technology, there are still those who yearn to wander.

These wanderers include members of Grand Valley State University’s backpacking club, which promotes exploration and reconnecting with nature. For some, it has been a life-long desire just waiting to be expounded upon. As for the current treasurer, freshman Caitlin Shannahan, the program has helped with her transition into university life and more importantly, pushed her to follow through with an interest in camping.

“I’d always been interested in camping, but I’d never actually done a backpacking trip,” Shannahan said. “I was pretty much sold after that.”

Aside from trips, the group promotes and helps carry out cleaning up the area, particularly the ravines off campus.

Joe Napolitan, president of the group, firmly believes that showing pictures helps students decide to join.

“In all reality as far as getting away for a weekend or spring break, it’s probably the cheapest option available,” Napolitan said.

Although there are not many trips left for the year, students are encouraged to still join and experience what it is like to go backpacking. Membership dues are $20, and all other expenses are divided amongst members on a trip-by-trip basis. Equipment is provided if students do not have his or her own.

There is a trip planned for the Porcupine Mountains in the Upper Peninsula the weekend of April 13. To be added to the group in time, signing up as a member and the trip are required.

For those who want to get a head start and practice before joining the group, hiking around the ravines and learning how to use a topographic map are suggested.

“It’s a pretty decent simulation as to what you might be doing,” Shannahan said.

Navigation courses are also set up in the ravines allowing students to follow checkpoints around and learn how to use a compass more thoroughly.

The group will be heading off to Isle Royale, Mich., at the end of the year.

“We need to do fundraising and volunteer hours to secure a position on that trip,” Napolitan said.

Part of this will come from the bake sale being held this week.

GVSU’s Backpacking Club meets every Thursday at 9 p.m. in Manitou Hall Room 123.

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