Blue Ridge Expeditions
- Length: 14 or 16 days
- Dates: June 15- June 28, July 2- July 17, or July 20- August 2
- Grades: 9th- 12th grade
- Begins and Ends: GRP Base Camp, Cedar Mountain, NC
- Airport: Asheville, NC or Greenville/Spartenburg, SC
- Cost: $2,750 or $3,050
- Challenge Level: Introductory
“Throughout BRX I have realized the kind of person that I want to be and can be. Because of this I feel that I can be the kind of person that someone can look up to. I would absolutely love to return to BRX.” – 10th Grade Male, Chapel Hill, NC
Blue Ridge Expeditions (BRX) began in 1991 and are the flagship Expeditions of Green River Preserve. Expeditioners hike, canoe, rock climb, and camp in some of the most beautiful areas in the Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina. We offer three 14 or 16 day programs throughout the summer. Each Expedition is a life-changing experience that heightens confidence, improves leadership awareness, and broadens skills in low impact camping, backpacking, canoeing, and climbing.
Campers will learn the fundamentals of rock climbing by spending a day on the GRP climbing tower and a day on rock in the surrounding area. There are a variety of routes to choose from so both beginners and experienced climbers will feel challenged.
Backpack in Pisgah National Forest
For the backpacking component, the Expeditioners are presented with 3 routes in Pisgah National Forest; a place laden with refreshing mountain streams, beautiful bald vistas, and majestic old growth forest. These routes vary in length from 4-7 days and also vary in challenge. The group is charged with choosing a route and planning an itinerary. Expeditioners quickly learn the basics of backcountry living, like how to pick the perfect campsite, where the best swimming hole is, how to navigate with a map and compass, and which desert taste the best while camping.
Similar to GRP’s base camp, Blue Ridge Expeditioners will explore our cultural heritage by learning some select primitive skills. This art is introduced during the first portion of the trip when the group will spend two days with one of GRP’s senior mentors. Skills such as fire by friction, cordage, basket weaving, whittling mess kits (like bamboo cups) stalking and tracking, foraging for wild foods, plant identification, salve and candle making, and more will be introduced, taught, and practiced during this time. Development and precision of these skills will happen throughout the duration of the trip. The groups’ interests will steer the learning experience.
White Water Canoeing
The group will learn basic paddling skills on a nearby lake before venturing out to a nearby western NC River. After a day of tackling class 1 and 2 rapids, the group will be assessed and will take on a more challenging section of river in the area. Rivers we have paddled in the past include the lower Green River, the French Broad River, the Tuckesgee River, the Nantahala River and the Chattooga River.
Traditionally, the final day of BRX is spent preparing for a sweat lodge, a ceremony that is often the highlight of the Expeditioners experience. Campers will work with the leaders to prepare the lodge, build and maintain the fire, and support one another. Like all GRP activities, the sweat lodge is a “challenge by choice” event. Campers are encouraged to participate at the level they feel most comfortable.
The Blue Ridge Expedition’s base camp home is next to the continental divide, tucked in beside Reasonover Creek in a wonderful micro-climate where summer temperatures rarely get uncomfortably hot. The heart of this Expedition’s home is a large group shelter which provides space for programs, meal preparation, and a campfire setting. To the east is a boys shelter and to the west is a girls shelter. These shelters are elevated off the ground and have canvas walls to protect participants from the elements. A leader stays with the participants at each site. Both of these shelters are a short walk from the group shelter.
Arrive at Green River Preserve base camp and walk the short distance to the Blue Ridge Expeditions base camp called Reasonover.
Learn the basics of climbing and practice your expertise on the GRP climbing wall.
Day 3: Rock Climbing
Take your skills to the Rock! Spend a day in our backyard rock climbing on your level of challenge. We will end our day swimming in the massive waterfall that cascades down right next to our climbing site.
Day 4-5: Primitive Skills Workshop
While preparing for our backpacking trip at Reasonover, we will have a guest senior mentor visit and conduct a 2-day primitive skills workshop. Expeditioners will have the opportunity to learn about ancient cultures and the various skills they practiced like fire by friction, basket making, medicinal herbs, and more.
Day 6-10,12: Backpack in Pisgah National Forest
Summit mountain peaks, stand under waterfalls, and enjoy phenomenal sunsets amongst your new friends as you settle into the peaceful, simple life of surviving with everything on your back.
Day 11-12 (14-day trip) or 13-14 (16-day trip): Whitewater Canoeing
After learning the basics of canoeing on a nearby mountain lake, we will take our skills to the river. Our first day will be spent on a more mellow river (Class I and II), dialing our partner and paddling skills. Once comfortable, we will venture out to a more challenging section of river and put our whitewater skills into practice.
Day 13 or 15: Sweat Lodge
We will spend the day preparing for our final Sweat Lodge ceremony. We will work together to build the fire and maintain it and conduct our group’s final celebration.
Day 14 or 16
Depart at Green River Preserve base camp.
We reserve the right to alter the itinerary prior to and throughout the trip. Itineraries may change due to: severe weather, student ability, motivation and conditioning, high or low rivers, high or low snow pack, unpredictable natural disasters, vehicle breakdowns, road closures, forest fires, illness, ever changing permit regulations, any potential threat to safety; even a brilliant idea from an instructor or student. In the event of a schedule change, comparable activities will be substituted when possible and you will be notified by e-mail of significant changes.
Download the Blue Ridge Expedition Packing List.