By Sam Van Roon ’17

I’m from San Diego, and I’d never been to Washington before coming up to PLU. I wanted something different, something new. The Pacific Northwest was a completely different world, with so many things to do and places to see that I’d never experienced before.

I got involved with PLU’s Outdoor Rec (OR) program as soon as I could because I have a lot of friends in the program and wanted to explore more of my new home state. My first OR trip was to Lake Serene in the Central Cascades range, hiking through forests to get there. The awesome part is that it was just an hour or so drive to get to the trailhead. I’ve found that there are many amazing places like this close to campus.

Over Spring Break, I also explored on my own. Some friends and I backpacked around the Olympic National Park and along the coast. It’s so different from the California coast—it’s so much greener, and it was crazy to walk among moss and elk.

There’s so much diversity here. Just in Tacoma, there’s Point Defiance Park for biking, hiking and kayaking, but it’s easy to get to places where you can go rock climbing, rafting, snowshoeing and backpacking too. Mount Rainier National Park is about 90 minutes away, and the Olympic National Park is only two hours away. One of my own goals before I graduate is to summit Mount Rainier.

Here’s my advice: You’ve got to see and experience this place for yourself. Know that the culture at PLU is really conducive to getting out and exploring the area, so get involved and, of course, take advantage of an OR trip!