If you told freshman Danny Fratella five years ago he would be co-president of Western’s hiking club, he might have laughed.
“As a kid, I hated the outdoors. [I] hated everything about hiking and camping,” Fratella said. “But then I started going on more hikes, and I realized there’s so many cool places you can only access by walking to them.”
Fratella’s new-found passion for hiking led him to reach out and find trail buddies on Facebook, where he met freshman co-president Elliese Wright. Together, with the help of a few others, they volunteered to give new life to Western’s hiking club. Wright said she encourages anyone to come to a Wednesday meeting if they’re curious about getting involved.
“We always say, ‘Even if it’s awful, it makes a great story. I think that’s part of how you build your friendships.”
Elliese Wright, co-president
Wright said they see hiking as an excellent activity for staying fit and exploring your surroundings, all while making new friends and forming lasting memories.
Wright said the club has provided her with a great way to meet adventurous people, and make new friends. She said some of her favorite moments have come from getting to know fellow club members during downtime on the trips.
“You really get to know each other on the car ride there. You can get in [the car] saying ‘who are these weirdos I’m with? I don’t know anybody here,’” Wright said. “Then you all have inside jokes by the end of the day.”
Fratella and Wright said the club discusses past hikes and hold a vote on which route they’re going to hike the following weekend during their meetings. Past hikes have been through places like the Cascades and Canada.
They also talk about safety. Wright said the proper shoes, gear and warm clothes are essential to staying safe on the trail.
Anna Roth, hiking content manager for the Washington Trails Association, said it’s good practice to check trip-reports, bring a compass, map, first-aid kit and water filtration system. She also said to avoid cotton clothing, instead recommending fabrics like wool or polyester.
“We try to be sure that any [route] we pick, anyone can do. Even if it takes them a little longer and pushes them harder,” Fratella said.
Even if hikes don’t go according to plan, Wright said everyone still manages to keep a good attitude. When Mother Nature throws them a curveball, Wright said they take it in stride, turning harsh conditions into memories to be laughed about later.
“We always say, ‘Even if it’s awful, it makes a great story,’” Wright said. “I think that’s part of how you build your friendships.”
The hiking club holds open meetings on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. in Bond Hall to plan future excursions.