With nice weather comes the itching feeling to go explore Bellingham and surrounding areas. Students who want a chance to experience the Northwest have numerous opportunities this spring. Western has facilities to provide students with an outlet to outdoor activities. Lakewood and the Outdoor Center (OC) are two such resources.

As always, the Outdoor Center is hosting two to three trips per weekend meaning a wide opportunity of excursions.

“We are jammed packed this spring with trips,” promotions and outreach coordinator for the Outdoor Center Marrisa Capito said. “We really did a good job in bringing a really wide variety of excursions to people.”

Capito said many trips are for people of any skill level.

“A good example of trips open to all abilities is the Squamish Rock Climbing trip coming up Memorial Day Weekend,” Capito said. “More experienced climbers will be able to do some harder routes, but we are also making it completely available for people who have never put on a pair of climbing shoes and teaching them the basics.”

The rock climbing trip will take place May 24 to 26 and costs $100 for Western students.

“There will be a bike trip to Larabee on a Sunday afternoon,” Capito said. “This is a chance for people who aren't familiar to Bellingham in the springtime to explore a bit. We'll have a picnic, toss the Frisbee and bask in the sunshine.”

The Larabee bike trip is May 4 and is $10 for Western students.

“For our more experienced people, we have Mt. Shuksan ski and snowboard ascent,” Capito said. “We are going to try and summit Mt. Shuksan, Mt. Baker's neighbor, and then we are going to snowboard or ski down. This is definitely a trip for someone proficient in skiing or snowboarding because it will be backcountry conditions.”

The ascent trip costs $150 and includes all safety gear, transportation and guides. The trip is May 10 to 11.

“In very high demand, we have two Women in the Woods days coming up,” Capito said. “One is a hiking trip to the North Cascades, we are going to hike up to Winchester Mountain and it is one of the most amazing viewpoints in all of the North Cascades. We also have a rock climbing trip; we will be going to Erie which is a great place for routes for everybody.”

The day hike to the summit of Winchester Mountain is on April 26 and is $25. The rock climbing excursion is on May 11 and costs $40.

“Snow is melting which means whitewater,” Capito said. “We have a white-water kayak, raft weekend coming up in May. The cool thing is you can choose your chariot: raft or kayak. We are going to have a lot of fun and then we will finish the day with a campfire and s'mores.”

The trip costs $75 and includes rafting and kayaking gear, transportation and guides. Students wishing to kayak one the trip must attend two Kayak Roll Session classes before the excursion.

“Free this quarter is the on-going bike shop clinics,” Capito said. “You can to come to the first one and keep coming to build your knowledge or just drop in on one to learn some basic skills. I think this is a cool thing because bikes are such an important mode of transportation at Western. It's really beneficial to know what you're doing.”

The free clinics are 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. April 17, May 1, 8, 15, 29 and June 12. They will cover how to fix a flat tire, keeping a chain in good condition, adjusting the brakes and trueing wheels.

“We love having people who have never climbed or biked or done trips like this,” Capito said. “They are really who we are trying to advertise to.”

These are just some of the outdoor related activities that the OC will be coordinating. For more information stop by their office in Viking Union 150, or read more about the trips at http://outdoor.as.wwu.edu.

For a chance to enjoy the great outdoors closer to home, and for very little money, students can go to Lakewood, Western's watersports facility. Spring quarter means that Lakewood, located on Lake Whatcom, is open once again.

According to Jeff Davis, program manager of Lakewood, the spring hours are from 2 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and from noon to 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

“All students need to have is a current campus ID and they can check out canoes, kayaks and rowboats,” Davis said. “Students with experience can also check out sailboats.”

Rentals start at $3 per day for canoes, kayaks, windsurfers and rowboats.

“In addition to rentals, students can sign-up to take private sailing lessons by appointment,” Davis said. “They consist of four two-hour, lessons for only $40. After this amount of time, students are usually fairly confident in sailing skills on an Alpha sailboat.”

Lakewood also is the home to Western's men crew team and to the co-ed sailing team. According to Davis, all skills levels may join the sailing team which practices Monday and Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. and Friday at 4:30 p.m.

With over 10,000 recreational boat checkouts a year, Lakewood is a highly popular spot for Western students to have hours of enjoyment outdoors.

“We have a huge variety of equipment at Lakewood that just screams for students to take of advantage of,” Davis said. “You will never have a cheaper opportunity to experience this, or a more beautiful area than Lake Whatcom.”

Students who are interested in finding out more about Lakewood and its services are encouraged to call Davis at (360) 650-2900 or e-mail Jeff.Davis@wwu.edu. Also, students can find out more at

http://www.vu.wwu.edu/lakewood/index.php.