HESO 257 Backpacking: More Than a Walk in the Woods

Backpacking Students

HES faculty member Scott Schneider interviews a student after the weekend backpacking field trip for the course he teaches, HESO 257 (Backpacking).

Can you tell me a little about yourself?

My name is Stephanie Huang, and I am a senior here at NC State majoring in Art & Design with a concentration in Animation and New Media. I am currently aspiring to get into the interactive media industry and work on projects that use new technologies like 360° cameras and virtual realities to help educate others.

Why did you choose to take this class over all the other 200 level HES courses?

I took this backpacking course mainly to challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone. While I have done a lot of traveling around the world and visited a fair number of national parks, most of it has been more focused on the cultural elements found in urban areas, or mainly front country.

What was your favorite part of the class?

My favorite part of this class was definitely the whole ‘get-outdoors’ aspect. While I wish I dedicated more time to getting outside in my daily life, the weekly assignment of running or hiking outside and making an activity log out of it was extremely useful, both in getting me to exercise and prepare for the backpacking trip itself and getting into the habit of going outside at least once a week for a few hours at a time. I was able to experience all the natural resources and state parks in the Raleigh area that I may not have known about before.

What was the most challenging part of this class?

The most challenging part of the class was the trip itself. Even though I did a lot of hiking and running in preparation for the trip, it still wasn’t quite enough to prepare you for the actual act of carrying a heavy load while scrambling along nonexistent trails or through fast-moving creeks. The physical challenge was significant, but not insurmountable. I discovered it was more of a mental block than anything else, whether it is learning to ignore rocks and sand between blistering toes or forcing yourself to believe you can cross over that gap in the trail.

What are you most excited about after this course and how will you apply it moving forward?

My biggest takeaway from this course is discovering just how much land has been preserved throughout the nation, both in terms of recreation and wilderness. It is one thing to be able to look at a green space on a map, and an entirely different experience trekking through the underbrush and creeks of the actual forest that a vast majority of people have not experienced. I’m looking forward to planning future trips into the backcountry throughout the States to gain an even greater appreciation of the natural world.

Did this class help you in your major?

At first glance it may seem as if backpacking would have little to do with my major and its focus on art and technology. A lot of people would say that the whole point of backpacking is to get away from society’s dependence on technology, and I would agree to a certain extent, but at the same time I feel that technology has a place in the outdoor world as a bridge to create shared experiences. My major is all about how technology and media can entertain, educate and encourage communication between people. In the future, 360° camera technology and virtual reality viewing might allow a person who may otherwise never be able to visit certain environments (due to physical disability, or lack of financial means) to experience those places. The ability to experience these places virtually can foster an appreciation and empathy in those people and they may then go on to influence their attitudes, whether it be their opinions on environmental policy or a desire to learn more about the natural world. Taking this class has solidified my desire to make people more aware of the beauty of the natural world through the use of these technologies.

Anything else you’d like to say about your learning experience in HESO 257 Backpacking?

I would highly recommend this class to anyone looking for something to challenge them. Backpacking at NC State will spark your sense of adventure and make you appreciate the world in ways you never even considered. My favorite part of this class was definitely the whole ‘get-outdoors’ aspect. While I wish I dedicated more time to getting outside in my daily life, the weekly assignment of running or hiking outside and making an activity log out of it was extremely useful, both in getting me to exercise and prepare for the backpacking trip itself and getting into the habit of going outside at least once a week for a few hours at a time. I was able to experience all the natural resources and state parks in the Raleigh area that I may not have known about before.

If you’d like learn more about HESO 257 or the Outdoor Leadership minor program please check out our website: Outdoor Leadership Minor.

360 Backpacking Photo

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