Category Archives: Outdoors

University of Oregon Sophomore Jumps The Fences

-Eleni Pappelis

When fox hunting became a more fashionable sport in the 18th century, competitive horse jumping first started to develop. Due to fences around enclosed properties, horses and their riders required training so they were able to clear the fences and get to the foxes.

Today, the objective of jumping is to complete a course with no mistakes. Each course tests skill, precision, and training. This winner of a competition is the horse and rider who clear the course fastest with the least amount of penalties. Penalties are given when any part of an obstacle is knocked down or when a horse refuses to make a jump.

Ali Levy, a sophomore at the University of Oregon, has been riding horses since she was 8 years old. While competing at a horse show, she takes at least three classes a day, in which she must memorize a ten-jump course and is expected to execute it perfectly.

“Long story short, I have to do it flawlessly and still look good,” Levy says.

While she attends school during her off-season, Levy rides at least once a week. When it becomes closer to a show, she trains for five hours a day, six days a week.

“I love this sport because it takes me away from my busy life for a few hours. It is nice to leave campus for a while to spend some time relaxing,” says Levy.

Levy intends to join the club team at University of Oregon in the future and is excited to compete on the team because of the many horses she will have the opportunity to ride.

“I really enjoy riding different horses because it makes me better,” she says.

A New Sport Takes Hold: The Zen & Art of Squirrel Fishing


-Emily Fraysse

Yes, you did read that right.

While the origin remains uncertain, the sport of Squirrel Fishing has been growing in popularity the past five years. What it ultimately entails is the challenge of “catching” a squirrel by attempting to lift it off the ground using some type of bait (usually a nut, preferably a peanut) that has been tied to a fishing line or string. The nut represents the strong bond that is developed between human and animal.

This abnormal activity has been practiced all over the states from Harvard University to the University of California at Berkeley to Penn State.

A woman named Annie started a website demonstrating the exact skills and equipment needed to perform this odd hobby. With the aid of labeled photographs, Annie states in the first step that, “a happy little squirrel should be within reach.” She warns that since squirrels are often found in public places, you must take the time to find a secluded area— it’s worth it!

For your makeshift or purchased fishing line, be sure that it is not too long. Annie nails the point by saying, “a shorter pole allows greater contact with your friends the squirrels, and isn’t that what we’re all looking for?”

When on the hunt, remember to slightly crouch with bent knees. Although the squirrel may be in a guarded position, this semi-non-threatening approach will make the squirrel much more comfortable with coming up to you. Since squirrels are skeptical and skittish by nature, the guarded behavior is to be expected. Be patient—if their backs are turned or they fluff their tails, then they are not ready to be fished for. Annie’s advice is to go for the fat ones because they tend to be friendly and are slower runners. But make sure you have the arm strength to pick it up! Eventually the determination and lure of the nut will be so enticing that he will eventually succumb to the kernel.

Playing tug-of-war, pull up the bait slowly as the squirrel grasps to it, completely under the nut’s spell. The reward of this fine activity happens after the tree-crawler is lifted off the ground with his little stubby legs flailing in the air. Notice his beady black eyes, cute little belly, and sweet nose. After admiring the poor creature, let him have the prize, and continue on with your day!

Hurling—Not Curling

-Casey Klekas

I play an Irish sport called hurling, which, as we hurlers like to say, is a cross between lacrosse and murder. It is not the ice sport of curling, where ex-janitors come to flex their sweeping skills. Rather, it is an ancient Gaelic game that combines every other field sport I can think of. Here’s the rundown:

Hurling is played by two teams of between nine and fifteen players, depending on how many are too hung over to make it to the field at noon (remember this is an Irish sport). The field is supposed to be over four hundred feet long, but we normally just play on a soccer or football field. Soccer goals are in place, but they have football posts attached, so it looks like an “H”. The game is played with a “sliotar,” a slightly more forgiving baseball. Each player has a wooden stick, similar to . . . well, similar to nothing you’ve ever seen. It’s called a “hurley” and its about three feet long with a flat paddle at the end. Whenever I’m on my walk home from hurling practice, hurley in hand, everyone stays out of my way. It looks like a prop from some medieval torture chamber. But during a game, the hurley is used to whack the sliotar, rather than someone’s kneecap—not intentionally, at least.

The object of the game, besides survival, is to have more points than the other team. It’s one point between the football posts and three points inside the soccer goal, which is difficult because the biggest, burliest man on the team plays goalie. The better players can score by putting the sliotar between the posts from half-field or more. I, on the other hand, have only been playing for two years and am lucky to keep the ball in bounds.

To move the ball, you normally use your hurley. You catch the sliotar with your free hand, then toss it on to your paddle. The paddle is flat, so you must balance the ball if you want to move more than the four legal steps of ball-in-hand. You are going to want to move because there is at least one sizeable Irishman on your heels. To shoot, you simply flip the ball back to your hand, then toss it to yourself like you would hit a baseball. Oh, yeah–you don’t hold the hurley like you would any other club. Your dominant hand is on bottom, so opposite a baseball bat, which makes for an initial awkward period of about a month.

You can also slap the ball with your free hand, which is good for short passes and assists, but no throwing. You can kick it and play a full game of “sliotar soccer,” as long as you don’t mind the axe chops of hurleys at your feet. The other team can eventually prevent you from kicking the ball, so you can also use your hurley to hit the ball on the ground–like a mutant form of croquet or a violent variation of field hockey.

The list of illegal moves is short: No throwing the sliotar, as I said. No picking it up from the ground with your hand–you must scoop it up with your hurley. No cross-checking with your stick. And, no… uh… that’s it.

I forgot to mention: it’s not a light contact sport. One of my first games, I nearly broke my thumb. Well, I didn’t nearly break it—some bearded ape from Corvallis did. During the first game of an all-day tournament last year, I watched a man break both his tibia and fibula like a pretzel. The next game, a boy tore a ligament in his knee. But, most days it’s just a bunch of guys outside whacking some sliotars.

After every game, the teams join together for a round of beers and burgers, followed by another round of beers. But sometimes this occurs between games.

So, if any of this playful barbarism sounds appealing to watch, or if you hate yourself enough to play, come support the Eugene Trappers. We practice every Saturday, one o’clock behind Roosevelt Middle School. We’re looking for new players so please come by ready to hurl!

This Saturday, March 9, we host a tournament played at the Eugene Irish Festival. Check us out on Facebook and YouTube. There are only a few hurling teams in the Pacific Northwest and Eugene is home to one of them. So support your local boys and help us celebrate the Irish diaspora. Go Trappers!


Photos by Ricci Candé

Elephants and Rhinos and Bears in Oregon? Oh my!

-Emily Fraysse

Bobbing his head forwards and back, he lunged right for our car.

“Roll up your window! Roll up your window!” screamed my mother in the driver’s seat.

Of course, in the first thirty seconds of driving into the Wildlife Safari Park, we get attacked. Before this moment, we never thought we would experience a full-grown ostrich bombarding our car, especially not in Oregon, but we did. Thankfully, before the beast could do any damage to the paint job of the Toyota Rav4, the workers at the Wildlife Safari shooed him away to the side of the road.

The park, located in Winston, Oregon, consists of two main areas: the drive-thru and the Village. The Village houses an array of animals such as wolves, flamingos, Egyptian geese, kookaburras, alligators, lemurs, bobcats, and bearded dragons. Another part of the Village is like a petting zoo, with pygmy goats, lamas, miniature donkeys, and horses. But the most amazing part of this park lies in the rest of the 600+ acre lot. Guests get the chance to experience animals up-close by driving through the five sectors (Africa Section, Wetland Area, The Americas, Asia Section, and Tiger and Cheetah Area) of the park.

It was traveler Frank Hart’s vision to create a non-profit facility in the Pacific Northwest with its main goal being to save rare and endangered species. Thirty-eight years later, through education, conservation, and research, not only has it become a fantastic wildlife safari, but the zoo is one of the top breeders of cheetahs in the United States. Since the zoo opening in 1972, there have been 171 cheetahs born in the park.

Going along with its goal of protecting the diversity of species, it created the Conservation of Rare and Endangered Species (C.O.R.E.S.) program in January 2005. Connecting with researchers all over the world, the Safari’s website explains that the program is creating, “scientifically-controlled managed breeding programs, public awareness of wildlife conservation issues, and in some cases, reintroduction of wildlife bred in captivity back into secure habitats.” Currently, it is working on cheetah reproduction projects as well as an African Elephant conservation and reproduction center.

Check the website for inside events including bear feed, breakfast with the bears, camel rides, cheetah encounter, elephant barn encounter, elephant car wash, and lion feeding!

Duck & Cover: She Loves to be a Dirty Duck

-Eleni Pappelis

After trying nearly every sport offered at Beaverton High School, there was only one that stuck with Zoe Wilson. At the age of sixteen, Wilson started playing rugby at the recommendation of her friend. Her school never had a women’s rugby team before Wilson’s friend, Sierra, rallied a team together. Wilson decided to give the sport a shot and went with Sierra to the first few practices. She immediately fell in love with rugby. This interest soon developed into a passion. She more noticeably felt this connection while transitioning to a college team.

Wilson was a freshman when she joined the Dirty Ducks women’s rugby team at the University of Oregon. It was during her first season that Wilson’s dedication to rugby was tested.  With a close score against Stanford, players rushed down the field fighting to win another “try” against their rival team. Unexpectedly, Wilson tore her meniscus in her left knee during the play.

“It was really hard because I just wanted to keep playing,” Wilson says. “It was really frustrating.” However, she did not let this physical pain hinder her from finishing the game.

Eyes teary from the initial shock of her injury, Wilson quickly composed herself and demanded that she would be put back in the game to play. She set aside her pain to devote all of her remaining ability to rugby.

Wilson is now a sophomore and captain of Oregon’s Dirty Ducks Rugby Club. As a result of her injury, she wears a knee brace whenever she participates in practices or games. The damage in her knee makes her more susceptible to future injuries and could possibly lead to a necessary surgery. Wilson believes that only the most serious of injuries could force her to stop playing rugby.

“I get a lot out of rugby, “she explains. “It allows me to feel like the person I want to be.”  Wilson’s experience proves that rugby is much more to her than simply a game. It demonstrates her strong character. Wilson is driven to win and dedicated to stay tough to support her team. She is determined to play the hardest she can, even if it means receiving a few wounds.

Don't Worry Be Healthy: Finding the Light in Seasonal Affective Disorder

-Marissa Tomko

They say that April showers bring May flowers, but what do January showers bring? For residents of the northwestern corner of the country, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) may be the answer. This is a disorder that seriously affects about 6 percent of Americans ages 20-40, and this does not include the 20 percent who experience less severe symptoms. Of these percentages, 75 percent are said to be women.

It is a pretty common opinion, at least among my peers, that summertime is preferable over the winter months, and it makes sense—it’s less stressful, more fun, and the weather allows us to enjoy outdoor activities without freezing or getting soaked. Even given the financial benefits, the number of Southern California kids that decide to come to school in Eugene always throws me. Even though the majority of them love this school and the experiences they have, there is no shortage of complaints about the cold and constant rain.

This makes for a less active student population in the fall and winter months. Students become more tired, less productive, and have tendencies to veg out and and smile less. Oregon is ranked the fourteenth most depression-affected state in the nation. But why? After looking into it, I realized that it is not the cold or rain that makes us all want to snuggle up and avoid homework—it’s the darkness.

During the fall and winter, the Northwest is under pretty constant cloud cover. It’s an event when the sun decides to shine down for an hour or two in the middle of January. But the sunshine does more than spark excited small talk about the weather—it gives us the chance to soak up some precious vitamin D, which helps us feel more awake and healthy. Melatonin, the hormone that helps us sleep, is produced in amounts inversely related to how much vitamin D we absorb. This causes us to experience a dramatic energy low, which serves as a basis for other SAD symptoms including feelings of depression, cravings for sweet and carb-loaded foods, anxiety, and a less-positive feeling about life in general.

Methods to avoid these symptoms are different for everyone who is affected by them. Spending as much time in the sunlight as possible is crucial. When you cannot do so, light therapy is an alternative option often prescribed. This involves a special lamp that burns ten times brighter than normal indoor lighting and has the ability to simulate a sunrise by increasing in brightness throughout your morning.

Another way to combat symptoms is to create a healthy lifestyle. This includes keeping an eye on your diet and exercise routines, cutting back on time in front of the computer, and trying to maintain a positive mental outlook. These notions may be easier said than done, but they are the main components to beating winter blues and living a sustainable and healthy life overall. If you have a hard time doing these things on your own, talk to a counselor or a friend face-to-face.

Feeling the effects of darkness is more common than you might think, especially in the stressed-out lives of university students. Just don’t forget to take a step back sometimes and focus on what makes you smile.

Chased By Zombies, Sprinting With Mickey Mouse, & Drinking Beer

-Emily Fraysse

Chased by zombies, sprinting with Mickey Mouse, and drinking beer.

What on Earth do these elements have in common?

Over the past few years, themed races have grown in tremendous popularity. Finding new ways to encourage people to exercise seems to be the latest hype. There has been an influx of new ideas and here are just a few:

Spartan Race

If you love obstacles and a challenge, then you’ll love this race. It is the world’s leading obstacle race series with different levels and styles of racing. In this race, you’ll have to climb, slide, dodge, catch, drag, throw, and think on your feet without knowing what is coming next. If you complete each of the three distance races in a single season, you will be crowned the Ultimate Spartan!

Krispy Kreme Challenge

While most people run to lose the weight that they’ve accumulated after eating doughnuts, others chose to do it simultaneously. After running for precisely 2.5 miles through Raleigh, North Carolina, you go to the downtown Krispy Kreme store and devour exactly one dozen doughnuts, then run 2.5 miles back to the start in under an hour. While you can sign up to be a Casual Runner (you don’t have to eat the doughnuts), who would skimp out on the best part of the race?

Run For Your Lives

Ever wonder what it is really like being chased by zombies? In this race, not only will you be racing against time, but you will be running against “brain-hungry, virus-spreading, zombies.” It works like a flag football game: each person is given a flag belt with a few flags. When all of your flags have been taken by the zombies, then you have officially been infected by the zombie virus.

Disney Races

Disneyland and Disney World offer an array of races to choose from – from individual adult marathons to races with entire families to only kids races to infant diaper dashes. Each of the events has their own theme, including a Disney’s Princess Half Marathon, Tinker Bell Half Marathon, Expedition Everest Challenge, Disneyland Half Marathon, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler, Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon, and Walt Disney World Marathon. During the day or during the night, running around one of the Disney-owned theme parks looks like a blast. Many of these events are accompanied by a Health and Fitness Expo.

The Color Run

“If life hands you color, run with it.” That’s the Color Run’s motto and that is exactly what happens. Starting off, each person gets a certain number of bags full of colored chalk, which you can then proceed to pour, throw, or rub all over your friends and fellow runners. At certain points in the race, there are buckets full of a single color of chalk, which stationed people pour onto you, creating a sandstorm of vibrant colors (as shown above).

Bay to Breakers

This race is world-famous for being the wackiest, craziest race of them all. Held annually in San Francisco, people of all shapes and colors and wearing different costumes come together to run the 12k. The outfits have become so outrageous over the years that a costume contest is now held for different categories.

A Community Art Project: Before I Die

-Jamie Hershman

What do you want to do before you die?

When I first pondered the question, I kept coming up with short term goals. But, thinking in the long-term, I know what I want to do before I die: make a difference, whether that be through my story-telling, or traveling the world and working hands-on in making a difference. Who knows? All I know is before I die I want to do something meaningful that will make a difference or impact somebody else’s life for the better.

A new community art project has whole neighborhood’s pondering the question, as well. It began with artist Candy Chang turning the side of an abandoned house into a chalkboard, having many slots open for residents to share what they want to do before they die. After the death of a loved one, Chang decided she wanted to up her spirits and the spirits of her community.

With the great response and participation from Chang’s community, there have been more and more walls going up throughout the world. “Before I Die” walls have gone up in Brooklyn, NY; Montreal, Quebec; Portsmouth, NH; and Queretaro, Mexico, as well as many other places. More are in the process of going up as well within the year from Johannesburg, South Africa to Denver, Colorado and Wolverhampton University in England.

These walls allow people to write down their hopes and dreams, and all responses are taken on record. This positive community art project is inspiring people to find and follow their passions. From past responses, many want to travel the world and reconnect with old family members. The walls encourage people to truly stop and think about what is going to make them happy in life. Some responses are funny, while others are a little more serious, but all have meaning to the person who wrote them.

Other groups have started projects to encourage people to find their passions with the “before I die” phrase. A group of four guys called The Buried Life made a list of 100 things they want to do before they die and have gone on a mission to complete every item, which MTV picked up as a reality television show. The Buried Life has influenced many young people to create their own bucket lists and try to complete them.

With so much negativity in the world, these walls provide a little center of hope for those who want to believe in their dreams and for those who want to lead better lives. Chang started with just a wall, but her one idea has sprouted walls up throughout the world and has changed the normality of the day-to-day life by encouraging people to find their passions.

So now, take some time and think about it. What do you want to do before you die?

Active Vacations- The New Vacationing Future?

photo courtesy of Brian and Renee Bouma

-Tiana Bouma

“They call it Backroads, but we like to call it Snackroads.” Brian Bouma, a two-time client of Backroads, said. “Every time you ride for an hour they have a bus set up with snacks and drinks and they drive by waving all the time.”

Tom Hale, the Founder and President formed Backroads, after spending three decades trying to find more rewarding alternatives to traditional vacations. There is no better way to immerse yourself in the life of a region and explore hidden corners while traveling under your own power. Backroads is part of an active vacation movement that is finding a way to more authentically connect with the world.

The types of trips range from biking tours, multisport tours, walking and hiking tours, private trips, and family trips. You can choose exotic locations in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America or see hidden treasure of the US from a view perspective.

Brian Bouma and Renee Bouma, a couple from Bend, Oregon recently returned from a six-day trip through Northern Vermont.   The Bouma’s biked an average of 45 to 60 miles a day starting in Burlington, Vermont and winding past Lake Champlain, Vermont’s Greek Mountains, and classic New England farms.

“One of the days we have to climb Appalachian gap, which is a challenging climb that they actually have a professional road race on and I climbed it and I didn’t think my wife would make it up cause it was so challenging.” Brian Bouma said, “The trip leader rode with my wife and encouraged her and climbed the entire road without getting off. 17% incline and he did this three times with three different people.”

Clients can tell the trip leaders are engaged and care about their groups. Meals and lodgings are all arranged in beautiful towns and inns native to the area that many would normally pass up for a more generic company. Experience ranges from professional and extreme bike riders to individuals and families that have never ridden a bike before.

“You can go whatever speed you want.” Renee Bouma said, “They always support you, it’s not like you’re in a group race.” Besides the tour guides that ride with the group there is a van and usually another car following with snacks, spare tires and bikes, and a comfy seat if a rider gets tired and wants to take a break.

photo courtesy of Brian and Renee Bouma

The rides each day are about the scenery and experiencing something new. Clients are encouraged to stop, take pictures and walk around. The Northern Vermont trip included fifteen people from all over the country. The small group sizes keep the trip personal.

“Twenty percent of the roads were dirt. “ Brian Bouma said, “You’d be in a Middle of a dirt road miles off a paved road and you’d come across a farmhouse and a church that was built in 1805 or 1790.” These are sites that would have been missed in a car or plane.

At the end of the day riders hand the trip leaders their bikes and continue vacationing. All riders need to travel with are clothes. Backroads even offers gel pads for bike seats. Although the Bouma’s Vermont trip was close to home, a trip through Europe or other continents is recommended. The Bouma’s first trip a few years ago with their two daughters, current University of Oregon students, traversed Austria and the Czech Republic.

“What we really enjoy about these trips is that they map out these amazing routes that you would never ride or figure out on your own unless you’ve been a resident for 20 years.” Renee Bouma said, “True to their name, you were on backroads.”