On Saturday morning, August 30th, Expedition Alaska 2014 departed the Alaska Pacific University campus for Eagle, where, on Sunday, the group put their canoes and rafts into the Yukon River for an extended float trip that combines the classroom with wilderness adventure.
For many of the students, Saturday marked the end of an entire week of firsts, some of which were pretty typical for beginning the college experience, like the first time living away from home, sharing living quarters and even doing laundry. Other firsts during this week of ramping up for the Expedition departure were anything but typical. On Thursday, for example, the students headed to Goose Lake to practice water safety and paddling techniques. For some, this was the first time sitting in a raft or canoe, and in the case of one student, paddling on Goose Lake was his first experience on open water. Ever.
But like the rest of the group, he was looking forward to many more firsts in the days ahead, which include floating the Yukon River, being in the Alaskan backcountry and, for a few of these students, camping.
For Janelle Dyer, APU alum and a staff member on Expedition Alaska 2014, the week of preparation brought back fond memories of her own introduction to the Alaska backcountry in 2005, as a student in Professor Paul Twardock’s “Introduction to Wilderness Skills,” a class that involved a float trip on the Gulkana River. It was this experience that made her realize she had chosen a unique and exciting school for her college education.
“I want these students to have the best trip ever,” she said, “so that they keep coming back to APU.”