An avid outdoor enthusiast, Will Sardinsky began leading trips for the Outdoor Recreation Committee during his sophomore year. He has since led countless CC students down both whitewater rapids and brown-dirt hiking trails while working diligently in the ORC’s Gear House on the side. The Catalyst sat down with Sardinsky to reflect on his involvement in CC’s Outdoor Education program.
The Catalyst: What’s it like to be preparing to leave CC?
Will Sardinsky: It still hasn’t really hit me yet. It feels like CC should keep on going, since that’s what I’m used to. But there are moments when it hits me, like at my friend’s music thesis for example, when I think to myself, damn, I’m going to miss this.
TC: As you reflect upon four years of enjoying the outdoors as a CC student, does anything in particular characterize your experience?
WS: A lot of stoke. That’s what gets me outdoors here. I am a slow mover, especially in the morning, so having friends that will break into your house, drag you out of bed, and get you out when you need a little extra motivation is great. If your friends are stoked enough to do that, you know you’ll have a good time with them outside.
TC: When you leave, what will you miss most about the Colorado Springs area?
WS: There are all these weird little pockets of land that have become important for me—just great beautiful areas in or near Colorado Springs. It’s unusual for a city to have that much “outdoor access.” It’s so easy to get lost in Palmer Park or North Cheyenne Canyon and feel like you’re not right next to Colorado’s second-biggest city.
TC:What is a positive change that you’ve seen in the ORC since you first became involved?
WS: I think the ORC goes through waves of people being really stoked on it and people not being so interested in utilizing it as a way to get outside. I’ve seen both waves, and not been on either side really, but right now there are a lot more people stoked on it, and I know that brings a lot of energy to the outdoor community. It’s cool seeing kids with previous outdoor experience as well as kids without it both being able to take advantage of the ORC as a tool. Also, one of the most important things that’s happened is that the ORC is really putting an emphasis now on how to get more people from all walks of life into outdoor recreation.
TC: Is there anything about the ORC that you would like to see change in the coming years?
WS: There’s a balance between the ORC being run by students and being run by non-student “pro staff.” When I first came to CC, and before that, it was much more of a student-run organization. Now it’s being run by pro staff more than it has ever been, which does allow for more safety and planning and regulation. But some of that takes away from the magic of it all being run by students. When it was more student-run, it was just a lot looser, oftentimes in a good way. The stories that I hear from the earlier ORC days are, uh … quite adventurous. I think right now the balance is a little too pro staff-heavy. There are positives to that, but also negatives.
TC:What advice do you have for CC students interested in exploring the outdoors?
WS: Think small. There’s a tendency to want to do the craziest, gnarliest stuff. That’s idolized here among certain people, and there are a lot of adventures that aren’t thought of as being real adventures or real outdoorsy trips just because they’re not the gnarliest thing possible. But anytime you’re outside doing something you enjoy, it has the potential to be a good time or an adventure. It doesn’t have to be super grand.
TC: If every time you went camping you were magically granted the power to shoot a different liquid from each finger on your left hand, which five liquids would you choose?
WS: Purified water that’s just slightly colder than lukewarm, Genesee, gin and tonic, really thick hot chocolate, and carrot juice. I love carrot juice.
TC: As an ORC Gear House employee, what’s one gear-related recommendation that you can offer other CC students?
WS: Nobody ever takes care of their skis or snowboards. They come in and say, “I think my skis need to be waxed.” You look at the bottom and you say, “Yeah they do.” Sometimes it’s too late. If you never wax or take care of your skis, there’s a point at which they’ll just be shot. So you might as well take care of them.
TC: Are you leaving CC with any regrets or missed opportunities?
WS: I wish I had gotten more involved with different outdoor communities, whether it’s climbers or cyclers or whoever. I’m friends with a lot of people who do that stuff, but I never just asked them to take me out. There are people who know so much, who know all the trails or climbing spots, and maybe I could have taken them kayaking somewhere, too. There’s a lot of potential for overlap between these groups.
TC: What’s one unnecessary thing you like to bring with you on hikes or river trips?
WS: I pretty much always bring some form of chocolate. Always dark. If things on the trip are hard, chocolate is good. If things aren’t hard, chocolate is still good. And everyone always loves you if you bring chocolate.
TC: What’s a fun block break trip that you would recommend to other students?
WS: There’s a sweet backpacking loop in the Taryall Wilderness near Lake George. I went there once on a summer camp trip a long time ago and I always wanted to go back and do it during first or second Block Break. You start hiking along a creek bed through aspen forests and then stop at this place called Refrigerator Gulf, which has these cool bubbly rocks that form caves that you can work your way through. You go over three different passes, you do plenty of hiking above tree line, and eventually you reach this really cool sandy forest. In 26 miles you go through so many different ecosystems, and it’s just perfect for a Block Break. Everybody driving to the mountains always passes right by it, so it’s funny that nobody takes advantage of this spot.
TC: This is a terrible question to ask any graduating senior, but I’m going to go for it anyway. Where do you see yourself in five years?
WS: Married to Mollie Podmore or some other river princess.
TC: What outdoor adventure are you most excited about right now?
WS: Road tripping around the East Coast and hopefully getting to the ocean. The ocean really scares me and I’d like to have a good time there in order to get over that fear. Also, getting on the Grand Canyon sometime. I don’t know when that’ll be, but I’m excited for the day when that happens.
After he graduates, Sardinsky plans to lead backpacking and sea kayaking trips for Overland Summers, an outdoor education program for teenagers, and then begin working as a filmmaker or photographer.