University Recreation Participants Gain Valuable Perspectives Exploring Iceland
Megan Turk, an adjunct faculty member in Recreation and Sport Management, hikes near Emstrur, Iceland.
UREC Outdoors, a program of University Recreation, recently completed a five-day backpacking trip along Iceland's Laugavegur Trail.
"The Laugavegur is known for its breathtaking scenery and extreme diversity," said Mike Hoover, assistant director for UREC Outdoors. "The trail was chosen by National Geographic as one of the 20 best hikes in the world."
The trip participants consisted of current students, faculty, UREC members, and university alumni. The group of 10 started their trek in the geothermal paradise of Landmannalaugar, and completed their adventure in Thorsmork, situated at the base of the Eyjafjallajokull glacier.
Participants completed the 33-mile hike completely reliant upon the food, gear, and supplies that they were able to transport in their backpacks. While the group experienced incredible weather during their hike, the terrain, weight of packs, and multiple days in the backcountry provided a healthy challenge.
UREC Outdoors hikers cross a snow field near Hrafntinnusker, Iceland.
"The trip taught me a lot about myself, it pushed and challenged me," said Kelsey Nagel, U of A engineering major. "I also learned more about my capabilities, as well as how to adjust my mindset during challenging situations."
Because the trail is globally known, hikers have a chance to interact with travelers from all over the world while on the trail and at camp each day.
"The Laugavegur is very unique in that it provides an extremely diverse cultural experience," said Hoover.
All of the participants reported an improved understanding of international travel and a better understanding of various cultures. "Seeing how different cultures act and elements of that culture such as architecture and eating habits was eye opening, and it is nice to have a comparison to the culture I was raised in," stated Carver Bomboy, a recreation and sport management major.
Additionally, the Iceland backpacking group reported a positive connection between the backpacking experience and the spiritual, physical, intellectual, and environmental dimensions of wellness.
Students, faculty and staff who are interested in UREC Outdoors are encouraged to visit the program website at urec.uark.edu or drop in to HPER 102.
Carver Bomboy, Megan Turk and Becca Kilpatrick finish a river crossing near Hvanngil, Iceland.
Hikers enter the black glacial desert between Alftavatn and Emstrur, Iceland.
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