Weekend Trip Ideas
By Jim Gorman Photograph by RMI Stock Photo
||AHEAD OF THE CLASS: Summit day on Washington's Mount Rainier|
Seven outdoor schools so fun you'll play hooky to attend. PACIFIC COAST
Graduate on Top, Washington
"Everybody suffers a certain amount on a Mount Rainier summit climb," says Peter Whittaker, co-owner and guide at Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. Sign on for RMI's five-day Camp Muir Seminar ($1,195; www.rmiguides.com) in September, when fair weather prevails and you'll tilt the pleasure-pain ratio heavily in your favor. The seminar is designed for people planning to go on to bigger and harder mountains with an emphasis squarely on basic mountaineering as well as crevasse rescue, route finding, and first aid. Of course, you also get a shot at the most sought-after peak in the lower 48. On summit day, which begins in the predawn hours, exhilaration and exhaustion mix in equal proportions. You'll walk ladder-bridges across gaping crevasses, skirt a huge bergschrund, and generally push yourself harder than you ever thought possible. By the time most Seattleites clock in at work, you'll be exchanging high fives on Columbia Crest (14,411 feet or 4,392 meters) with all of eastern Washington at your feet.
Elevate Your Game, Colorado
Get vertical—five pitches skyward, to be precise—before winter shackles you to an indoor wall. Colorado Mountain School's two-day Multi-Pitch Clinic ($386; www.cmschool.com) combines first-rate instruction with the high-flying routes of Rocky Mountain National Park. On day one, a CMS instructor will assess your climbing ability and teach you multipitch fundamentals, including proper belay techniques and how to remove protection. Day two is all about climbing Lumpy Ridge outside Estes Park, where 14ers tower in the background and burnished aspen stands rustle below. For lodging, splurge on a room at the elegant Stanley Hotel ($169; www.stanleyhotel.com), known for inspiring Stephen King's The Shining.
Lose 35 Pounds in Two Days, Montana
You have a weight problem, but it has nothing to do with your Krispy Kreme consumption. Too many backpackers hit the trail burdened by cargoes of 45 pounds or more. The team at Backpacking Light in Bozeman will dissect your load, slash it to ten pounds, and give you the savvy to backpack comfortably in three-season conditions. The first item jettisoned? Your hefty tent, which is replaced by a light tarp. "It's not enough to swap a tent. We teach where and how to set [the tarp] up to ride out a storm above treeline," says instructor Ryan Jordan. A weekend-length course ($600 per person; firstname.lastname@example.org) takes place on and off the trail in the wilderness of greater Yellowstone.
Saddle Up in the Shawnee, Illinois
Stetsons and stallions outnumber John Deere caps and tractors near Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois. On late summer weekends, horseback riders by the hundreds clomp the 160-mile (257-meters) River-to-River Trail to the region's limestone bluffs and rolling ridgetops. Greenhorns can learn a few pointers at Lake Glendale Stables ($25 an hour; www.lakeglendalestables.com), 150 miles (241 kilometers) southeast of St. Louis in Golconda. Itineraries range from hour-long rides to overnight pack trips and include nontechnical caving, belly-deep stream crossings, and steep hillside ascents. At day's end, soothe saddle sores in the stable's private lake, then bunk at its lodge ($95), housed on the second story of a barn.
Canoe Wild Water, Wisconsin
On the tight, fast rivers that course through the woodlands of northern Wisconsin, it takes more than a J-stroke to keep canoe and canoer from swamping. Sign on for two days of Class I canoe instruction ($150; www.rwtcanoe.com) with Rohr's Wilderness Tours in Conover to gain an edge when rivers roil. At Rohr, canoes are outfitted for action, with thigh straps, knee pads, and flotation bags. Paddlers put the gear to good use on the winding Upper Wisconsin River as they hone strokes like the cross draw and reverse sweep. Grab a site at Rohr's Campground ($13), a great option given September's reliably cool, bug-free nights.
Keel Over in the Chesapeake, Virginia
Wouldn't know a jib from a jibe or a sheet from a cleat? Sailing can seem more than a little daunting to the uninitiated. But give Captain Tom Landers two days ($395 for Basics of Keelboat Sailing; www.sail-school.com) and he'll teach even the most chronic landlubber to heel a craft. Landers, who runs the Virginia School of Sailing from the town of Deltaville on lower Chesapeake Bay, has been named instructor of the year by the American Sailing Association three out of the past four years. His classroom of choice: a fast, stable 22-foot (7-meter) Tanzer. Between drills on the water and cramming for the certification test at the end of the course, slip out to Toby's (+1 804 776 6913) for local crabs and scallops, as well as oysters and shrimp.
Cast Without a Ripple, Vermont
If your last fishing trip involved a red-and-white plastic bobber, then it's time to upgrade your knowledge of the sport. During an intensive, weekend-long fly-fishing clinic conducted by Northeast Kingdom Outfitters ($199; www.northeastkingdomoutfitters.com) in Vermont, bait worms get a break while you learn the zen of casting feather-weight tackle for running landlocked salmon. Spend two days immersed mid-wader in the clear, rushing waters of the Clyde and Willoughby Rivers, with the surrounding hillsides aflame in autumn color. Bed down nearby at one of Willoughvale Inn's four lakeside cabins ($239; www.willoughvale.com) and dive into a bowl of frutti di mare at Lago Trattoria (+1 802 334 8222) in Newport.Find more adventure travel ideas in the September 2005 issue of Adventure magazine.