Oberlin Blogs

In Which I Spend 6 Days in the Woods

November 6, 2018

Ruth Bieber-Stanley ’21

Oberlin is different from other universities in that—among other things—it has an entire week dedicated to fall break (completely separate from Thanksgiving break!). This fall break I went on a trip sponsored by the Oberlin College Outings Club (OCOC) . Every fall and spring break, the Outings Club runs multiple hiking and backpacking trips to beautiful locations within a day’s drive of Oberlin.

For just a $20 gear rental deposit and $100 trip fee (they also have a no-questions-asked financial aid policy), I got all the gear I needed and went on a six-day backpacking trip led by a fellow Oberlin student. My trip went to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

It looked something like this:

A view of the sandstone cliffs along the lakeshore


Chapel Rock—a tree atop an eroded sandstone formation


A sunset on the lakeshore of Lake Superior


The night before the trip left, I was apprehensive about going into the woods with six strangers. My semester has been at times really exhausting and overwhelming, and right before break I wanted nothing more than to just lie in my bed and make art and watch Netflix for a solid week. But I am so glad I went on the trip. My group was so kind and wonderful, and while I didn’t know any of them going in, there’s nothing like hiking on sand and mud in 30-40 degree weather and eating a lot of peanut butter to bring people together. 


A picture of my group in a yellow forest taken by our trip leader


Going into nature for my break was such a good choice. It was just what I needed! I was so present and on the trail my life was completely undictated by time, which is the complete opposite of how my life is at Oberlin.

I am always busy, and that is especially true this semester. Going on this trip was a great way to take care of myself. The week after I got back from fall break, I was reminded of just how much I took on this semester! The transition back to school life was ROUGH, but once the weekend came along, I was able to engage in some much-needed self-care. On Sunday I went on a 9-mile bike ride on the Oberlin Bike Path .


The Oberlin Bike Path with beautiful fall foliage


It was like reliving a tiny slice of my fall break adventure. Through my fall break trip with the Outings Club and just walking around Oberlin (which is at peak fall foliage right now), I have been reminded of how much I love being in nature and how stifling Oberlin can be. Don’t get me wrong, I usually like the comfort and familiarity of the Oberlin bubble, but sometimes when life is too much, I feel the need to just ... get out.

Luckily, there are some nice natural spaces around Oberlin, like the Bike Path I mentioned and the lovely Arb(oretum) . To any current or future Oberlin students, even if you don’t like nature, I cannot stress how important it is to find ways of taking care of yourself in your busy and hectic lives. Just because you can get everything done you need to get done, and eat and sleep and even exercise, it doesn’t mean you’re taking good care of yourself.

Fellow blogger Kira made a point in her most recent blog post about finding a balance between socializing and recharging at Oberlin. It really hit home, because even though I have been able to stay on top of everything during the first half of the semester, my self-care time is limited and I haven’t done as much as I’ve needed. For me, getting off campus and spending time in nature is just one way that I can recharge my introvert batteries and feel better about everything in my life. I am glad that Oberlin offers ways for me to do that during my breaks and during my everyday life.

There is so much beautiful world out there! Go find it! Be healed by nature! 


Ruth in front of Chapel Rock

Responses to this Entry

I just saw (and read) your nice blog on the fall break trip! You write well in English too -- not just in German! Thanks for sharing this with us.
Viele liebe Grüße,
Steve Huff

Posted by: Steve Huff on December 3, 2018 6:31 PM

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