At the end of only their second semester, Glendale Community College North’s Hiking Club offers students with a unique opportunity to combine exercise with an interest in nature.
Open to all GCC students, the North Campus-based club takes advantage of the North Valley’s multiple mountains to offer a variety of local hiking destinations.
“Our purpose is to improve physical, emotional and social wellbeing. As well as to increase student connection to the campus and the environment,” Brian Bird said. Bird is the club’s faculty adviser and founder.
Alex Riffel and Katie Webb enjoy one of the Hiking Club’s last hikes of the semester Nov. 20 on the Desert Vista Trail at Sonoran Desert Preserve.
The club plans for several official hikes a semester, as well as larger, specialty hikes during semester breaks. During the upcoming winter break, the Hiking Club will be travelling to the Grand Canyon for a 3-day hike and camping trip along Hermit Trail.
“That’s a new one for us. It’s our first major extracurricular hike. This is a backpacking trip, so we’ll have to bring all of our own stuff. Live off the land, a little bit with the water (from Hermit Creek),” Alex Riffel, the club president, said.
Before that, however, the club will be embarking on their final hike of the semester December 4, at Thunderbird Conservation Park.
“Thunderbird we do pretty often because there are a lot of different trails that could be done. So, that’s a favorite of ours,” Katie Webb said. Webb is the current club treasurer.
Webb, who has been hiking for years, is quick to assure students how the benefits of hiking can make for a unique fitness experience that can’t easily be duplicated.
“My endurance is really a lot better than it was in the beginning. It’s so much more fun than just going to the gym. Not only do you have people to talk to, but you have a destination. You’re actually going somewhere,” Webb said.
Riffel, who has only been hiking since joining last semester, added that the feelings of pride and achievement obtained after completing a hike are what keeps him coming back.
“It ended up being a really cool experience. You have a sense of accomplishment whenever you get to the top of a hill, or top of a mountain, or top of wherever the trail leads you to. You get to say I did that today, and not many other people did, or even have,” Riffel said.
The Hiking Club maintains an official Facebook page, under the name GCC North Hiking Club. The page regularly updates with any of the club’s upcoming hikes and activities.