In the middle of the day on Friday, the heat in Santa Clarita is sweltering. The sun is almost directly overhead, and whether you’re wearing shoes or flip flops, the skin on your feet burns in the piercing, mid-day sun rays.
But if you’re within several feet of Castaic Lake and with some outdoorsy strangers you just met 30 minutes ago, the scorching atmosphere is bearable because it’ll only be moments before you get to plunge into cooler waters.
Outdoor Adventures, an organization on campus designed to enhance the experience of college for students through outdoor recreational activities, offers free trips to Castaic Lake this semester.
Last spring, trips to the lake cost $20, so I thought it would be a good idea to take advantage of it since it didn’t cost anything this time around.
The first Free Day at the Lake took place on Sept. 14, and I decided to see what an afternoon there would be like.
For something free, the excursion at the lake was well worth the few minutes it took to sign up at the Outdoor Adventures office. All I had to do was fill out some paperwork and I got:
free transportation to and from Castaic Lake
to learn how to kayak
to learn how to paddle board
to meet some really cool and interesting people
a core workout
(You have to bring your own food and water, though.)
So on that Friday, I went to the Outdoor Adventures office (which is located near the SRC) at around noon. I sat in front with other students who had signed up, acquainted myself with most of them and chit chatted until we had to hop into the vans. Then we hit the road for 30 minutes until we got up to the lake.
Our trip leader, Ally, broke the ice for everyone by having us form a circle. We all had to take turns standing in the middle, where we had to introduce ourselves and tell everyone something we liked. (I said I liked Thai Iced Tea.) Whoever else liked Thai Iced Tea had to dance across the circle and find an empty spot. The last person to find a place had to go in the middle and take the spotlight.
And that went on until everyone had a turn.
After getting to know each other, we all ran out onto the burning hot sand, slipped into some life jackets, and watched Ally and another trip leader demonstrate how to use a kayak.
I’d only kayaked once before this trip, and it was years ago. I’d also never paddle boarded and I don’t have the greatest upper body strength, so I was a little reluctant about doing any activity that required paddling.
But by the end of the day all I wanted to do was either kayak or paddle board, even if it meant getting sunburned.
We started wrapping things up at around 3:30 p.m. and made it back to CSUN before 5 p.m.
I highly recommend Free Days at the Lake to anyone even just thinking about it. It costs nothing for CSUN students and you get so much out of it.
There are two more lake trips scheduled this semester: Oct. 19 and Nov. 2.
The organization also offers other outdoor activities at affordable costs, including hiking and camping.