Select a journey from the list on the left to find out more!
Rutgers University Spring Break Ecology Trip
The Annual Rutgers University Spring Break Ecology Trip to Cumberland Island GA takes place March 17-22. The for-credit trip will be co-led by Dr. Bill Hallman of Rutgers and George Appenzeller and Sarah Meadows of Challenge Adventures.
Cumberland Island is part of the National Park system. The southern end of the island is managed as a National Seashore and the northern end as a National Wilderness. There are a number of in-holdings on the island, much of which is owned by the descendants of the Carnegie family. The family gave most of the island to the National Park Service in the 1950's.
The island is older than many barrier islands, and is not as subject to rapid change as the islands formed in the last few thousand years are. But, generally, it is a pretty typical barrier island. The island is large, one of the three or four largest US barrier islands. And the island is largely undeveloped, unlike most other large barrier islands, such as Hilton Head.
The island is a wonderful example of the varied ecosystems one finds on an undisturbed island. Beginning with the Atlantic, there is a wide beach, with a foredune line behind it, There is then an inter-dunal zone, quite wide in some places, including fresh or brackish ponds. The inter-dunal zone ends with a backdune line. Some of these dunes are thousands of years old. The maritime forest takes up the center of the island, The edges of the forest contain wax myrtle, Yaupon Holly and palmetto trees. On Cumberland, the climax forest consists of live oak trees and long leaf and loblolly pines. The undergrowth is Spanish bayonet. On the mainland side are the mud flats and salt marshes.
On our expedition, we will examine each of the ecosystems on and around Cumberland. There won’t be time to even begin to do that in detail, so we’ll concentrate on a few plant and animal species which are indicators of the way organisms survive and prosper in their environment. Some animals which we will almost be sure to see on Cumberland are wild horses, armadillos, wild turkey, deer, raccoon and a variety of birds. Ask Dr. Hallman about the horse that almost walked through his tent one time, and the raccoons that tried to steal my pack. The deer, like most deer on islands, are smaller than the ones on the mainland. The vultures and hawks should be coming through the area migrating north. In the river behind the island, we may see porpoises, and if the weather is warm enough, we’ll see alligators in the fresh water creeks and ponds. If we are real lucky, we may see bobcats, otters, mink and marsh rabbits, but we will certainly see their sign. If we are unlucky, we’ll see wild hogs. There will be a multitude of shells on the beach.
It is unlikely that we will see any snakes this time of year, but the alligators come out on warm days, and we have never had a trip where we didn’t see at least one. Cumberland is famous for the many species of birds there. Over 300 species have been identified on the island at some time of the year. We are likely to see many shore birds. Also possible are two or three species of owl, osprey, Bald Eagle and marsh hawks.
We will be packing everything that we need in with us into the backcountry. That includes food, tents, stoves and so on. Those of you who have done wilderness camping know how this works. We will supply all of the equipment and have it pre-packed in back packs for you. All you will need to do is put your clothes in the packs.
Empowering Wilderness Llama Expeditions for Traumatic Brain Injury Survivors
August 9-11 & September 20-22, 2013
Are you a survivor of traumatic brain injury? If so, this trek is for you. Join other survivors on a three day expedition that will empower you to write a new life story!
Expeditions will provide physical and other challenges, but will also provide the support and safety of the trip leaders and the group. Trip leaders are familiar with TBI issues based on their own experiences. Trip leaders provide guidance and support to help each person challenge self-imposed limits and have a successful outdoor experience.
Participants will spend three days and two nights hiking and camping on backcountry mountain trails in the Middle Prong Wilderness, on the Pisgah National Forest, just west of Asheville, NC. You will hike 1 to miles each day on uneven but moderate backcountry trails at an average pace of 2 mph with plenty of breaks. You will cross small streams and fields and camp each night in tents in mountain meadows. You will see wildlife, dense forests and remote mountain views.
Groups are small, not more than 10 total, including trip leaders. Participants will carry a backpack with their clothing and rain gear, while the llamas will carry the food, tents and other heavy group equipment. Each participant will have a chance to lead his or her own llama. They will help to set up their own tents and assist with getting water, preparing meals on a camp stove and cleaning up. Trip Leaders will help each person to set personal goals and work toward them while on the expedition. The overall tone of the group will be supportive and non-competitive, so that each person has an opportunity to rescript their own new story, based on a successful outdoor experience. We recommend that anyone considering a backcountry adventure be in generally good health in addition to having medical clearance from their physician in regards to their TBI recovery status.
Deadline for the August Trip is July 27, 2013 and deadline for the September Trip is September 7, 2013.
The all-inclusive fee is $240, which includes all food, snacks, tents, sleeping bag, etc. You must furnish your own clothing, boots and rain gear.
(See the recommended packing list (PDF).)
Reduced fees and
scholarships are available for those
who qualify. (Please contact us at
803-771-6663 for more information.)
Girl Scout Adventures
Challenge Adventures has been working with Girl Scouts since 1990, bringing Junior and Cadette Scouts the chance to have overnight stays in the high mountains of North Carolina. We can do this because the Challenge Adventures llamas carry the heavier items that it would be difficult for younger Girl Scouts to carry themselves. We also take out Senior Scouts who want the experience of working with llamas, or want to stay out for a long period of time. We do day trips for Brownie and Junior Girl Scouts if that is preferred.
Our treks are designed to teach outdoor skills and awareness of the environment, but they are also designed to have fun in healthy ways. Our guides are mature people, who work in educational settings during the winter and with us in the summer. Many of our treks are led by one of the two of us, grandparents who still like to get out in the wilderness with young people.
The area we trek in is one of the most beautiful in the country. There is always something new and interesting going on around us, whether it is spotting a golden eagle, picking blueberries in the later summer or finding signs of an unusual animal along the trail. We have an enviable safety record, know a fair number of camp songs, and will show the young women how to make bracelets and necklaces from the wool they get off of the llamas. In short, we like doing this and like sharing the experience with others.
The treks are at the top of the Pisgah Mountains, near Asheville, North Carolina. The Scouts and llamas trek at an altitude of 5,500 to 6,200 feet. The vegetation, animals and weather at that altitude are about the same as they are in southern Maine. The young women become partners with the llamas who carry the heavy gear and the food that allows the Scouts to stay out several days. The Scouts learn about the environment they are in with the help of the guides. The Scouts also learn about how to care for the llamas, how to use the llama’s wool and how the llamas are adapted to live in the natural environment.
Challenge Adventures holds permits from the US Forest Service to conduct these treks. All of our staff are mature people, who exceed all of the training requirements of our permits. We also exceed the liability and safety requirements to conduct this type of work.
Challenge Adventures provides these treks during April through October. A maximum of 16 people, including one or two Challenge Adventures guides, can go on a trek outside of the designated wilderness areas. Inside wilderness areas, the maximum number is ten. We take out Scouts from eight years old up. We ask for one adult leader to come along for each seven Scouts.
We provide food, tents and other group gear, and can provide sleeping bags if necessary at a nominal charge. Girl Scout trips are always discounted and the Challenge Adventures board can approve a Council for our sliding scale rates.
Three Girl Scout Adventures have been planned so far for 2013. Two are for the Girl Scouts of South Carolina- Mountains to the Midlands and one for the North Carolina Coastal Plains Girl Scouts. There is still time for other Councils or individual troops to plan adventures with Challenge Adventures for this year. Call our office for details at (803) 771-6663 or send an email to email@example.com.
We will once again this summer be doing two, five day adventures in the NC mountains with Aerie Experiences http://www.aerieexperiences.com an Atlanta based program for children with Neurobiological Disorders, Aspergers, High Functioning Autism, Learning Disabilities and other special needs. We look forward to continuing to work with Aerie. One trip this year will be with younger children and the other with adolescents.