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Pre-Orientation Trips

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Trip Options | Trip FAQs | Meet Your Trip Leaders

An Experience of a Lifetime

Rather than spending your last few days before Orientation at home, biting your nails, packing and repacking, we strongly recommend attending a Pre-Orientation Trip. On the Clarkson University Outing Club (CUOC) Pre-Orientation Trips, our trained student leaders will guide you through the beautiful wilderness of the Adirondack Park in northern New York for four days and three nights. We have backpacking and canoeing trips for every skill level and interest, and you are certain to make lifelong friends, learn about the Clarkson experience from upperclassmen, get a head start on the college experience, and even move into your residence hall room early! 

Students attending trips move into their rooms early on Monday, August 17th and arrive back to campus on Friday, August 21st in time for Orientation. We even provide a special orientation for your parents and family members when you arrive on the 17th so they do not need to make a separate trip to Clarkson. 

Each trip costs $180 which includes an on-campus dinner for you and two family members, a free t-shirt to commemorate your trip, all transportation and food costs during the trip, an on-campus barbecue exclusively for trip attendees, and extensive Wilderness First Responder training for your student trip leaders. Sign up for a trip by completing your checklist items on PeopleSoft. Login with your Clarkson username and password (same as your email) at

NOTE: Students who are a part of the Clarkson School or Honors Program are NOT eligible for these pre-orientations experiences due to their own Orientation trip taking place at the same time. 

Pre-Orientation Trips for August 2015 are still in development. Check back in April for details about 2015's upcoming adventures!

To get an idea of what to expect, check out 2014's trips below. 

Trip Options

Each trip is led by two experienced leaders, and there are eight people (including leaders) per trip. Those wishing to go on a canoe trip must be able to swim.  Hiking trips require a pair of well-fitting, broken-in hiking or work boots with good support, as all participants will be carrying large backpacks.  All trips will be a primitive camping experience.  No special equipment is necessary, but anyone wishing to bring his or her own gear is highly encouraged to do so.

Difficult Hiking: Participant must have experience. Participant must be in good shape. Carrying heavy packs (35-50lbs) for 4-7 miles and day packs (10lbs) for 7-12 miles per day. Rough Terrain. 5-10 peaks.
Moderate Hiking: Participant should have some experience. Participant should be in good shape. Carrying heavy packs for 3-5 miles and day packs for 5-10 miles per day. Rough Terrain. 3-6 peaks. 
Easy Hiking: Participant doesn't need experience. Participant does not need to be in good shape. Carrying heavy packs for 2-4 miles and day packs for 3-7 miles per day. Moderate Terrain. 1-4 peaks. 
Difficult Canoeing: Participant must have experience. Participant must be in good shape. Canoeing 10-15 miles per day and carrying canoes 2-4 miles. Also, carrying heavy packs 2-4 miles.
Moderate Canoeing: Participant should have some experience. Participant should be in good shape. Canoeing 6-12 miles per day and carrying canoes .5-3 miles. Also, carrying heavy packs .5-3 miles.
Easy Canoeing: Participant doesn't need experience. Participant does not need to be in good shape. Canoeing 2-7 miles per day and carrying canoes up to .5 miles. Also, carrying heavy packs for .5 miles.

Trip 1: Chilled Saranac
Leaders: Colin O’Brien and Erin Hughes
Difficulty: Easy (Canoeing)
Day 1: Put in at Floodwood pond. Paddle to Upper Saranac and camp on an island there.
Day 2: Paddle a little ways to the carry point. Short carry to Middle Saranac. Paddle to the mouth of Lower Saranac, camp there for the night.
Day 3: Paddle to an island on Lower Saranac, hang out, explore and swim for the rest of the day.
Day 4: Paddle to the pick-up point at Ampersand Bay.
Description: So much fun it’s back for another year! Join Colin and Erin for a relaxing and fun canoe trip through all three of the Saranac Lakes. A great way to chill before classes start, with plenty of opportunities for swimming, relaxing and fun!  Not to mention some awesome camping on islands within the lakes!

Trip 2: Cranberry Pies and Blue Skies
Leaders: Jake Brown and Patrick Conlon
Difficulty: Easy (Canoeing)
Day 1: Enter at Wanakena and paddle down the Oswegatchie River into Cranberry Lake setting up camp at Janack’s Landing.
Day 2: Leaving the heavy stuff behind, hike Cat Mountain, then canoe to the main island
Day 3: Hang out at the island. Explore, swim, play games and have fun in the sun!
Day 4: Paddle out to the boat launch in Cook Corners.
Description: Spend four days canoeing at Cranberry Lake and hiking on Cat Mountain with Patrick and Jake.  There’ll be plenty of water and fun for all.  At the end of the lake is a nice mountain which we will climb on the second day and then we can do lots of swimming or canoeing.  If you wish to have fun and get the best of both land and sea, then this is the trip for you.

Trip 3:  Long Pond Caneoing with Eric and James
Leaders: Eric Davidson and James King
Difficulty: Moderate (Canoeing)
Day 1: Brief hike up Floodwood road to canoes. Short portage from canoes to the pond. Canoe out to campsite. Set up base camp.
Day 2: Canoeing and portaging from Long Pond to any adjacent ponds.
Day 3: Hiking trip up a Long Pond Mountain. Swimming in Pond. Hang around camp.
Day 4: Pack up camp. Canoe out for pick-up.
Description: Hang out with Eric and James for a fun canoeing and hiking trip in the beautiful Adirondack back-country. Plenty of time to explore, relax, and have fun as well as swim and eat delicious campfire food prepared by the “master” chef (James King). See the breathtaking views from the top of Long Pond Mountain and beautiful forests surrounding the numerous ponds. Come with us to experience the majesty of the Adirondacks.

Trip 4: Lila to Lows Paddle
Leaders: Tyler Arsenault and Evan Tougas
Difficulty: Difficult (Canoeing)
Day 1: An easy .5 mile portage into Lila, a 2-3 mile paddle to the first campsite.
Day 2: A .3 mile portage, followed by a 3 mile stream paddle to Harington Pond, where a 1.5 mile portage will begin to Clear Pond. A quick 1 mile paddle across Clear Pond to a .3 mi portage to Bog Pond, we will have the option to camp at Bog Pond or continue to paddle.
Day 3: We will paddle down Lows Lake towards Lows lower dam, staying at a campsite on Hitchins Pond.
Day 4:  Pack up and paddle out to our pick up point.
Description: This one will be a difficult (but fun!) paddle trip.

Trip 5:  Cranberry Go-Round
Leaders: Kyle Stone and William Callanan
Difficulty: Easy (Hiking)
Day 1: From Wanakena, hike to High Rock for lunch, then hike to High Falls and stay for the night.
Day 2: Hike to Cat Mountain and reach the summit, then head to Cowhorn Pond Lean-To.
Day 3: Hike to Janacks Landing Shelter, do some swimming and spend the night.
Day 4: Leave Janacks Landing early and return to Wanakena for bus pickup.
Description: Want to explore a different side of the Adirondacks but not exhaust yourself doing it? Join Kyle and Will in checking out Cranberry Lake, climbing a peak, swimming, and pond-hopping through the largest wilderness area in the Adirondacks.  The hiking is flat and easy, and we’ll be covering about 23 miles total, so come looking for a leisurely exploration of the Adirondacks with great company!

Trip 6: Smoke on the Water and Fire in the Sky
Leaders: Sam Jortberg and Liam Harrison
Difficulty: Easy (Hiking)
Day 1: Start at the trailhead on Upperworks Road and hike in to the Calamity lean-to area.
Day 2: Hike Colden then hang out around Avalanche Lake.
Day 3: Hike Marshall or swim then move on to the avalanche lean-to.
Day 4: Hike out to ADK lodge and wait for our ride!
Description: Start off your college experience with this laid back hiking adventure with Liam and Sam! This trip gives you the chance to bag one or two high peaks, or to just relax around breath taking Avalanche Lake! On top of the peaks or even wading in the lake this trip will give you some of the best views the 'Dacks have to offer!

Trip 7: Unbeleafable!
Leaders: Dylan Gilgallon and Matt Wagner
Difficulty: Moderate (Hiking) *All mountains hiked without heavy packs
Day 1: Leaving from Upper Works, hiking in for relatively easy first day past calamity pond and spending our first night near Feldspar Brook.
Day 2: Get ready, because on our second day we’re climbing the great Tahawus (Marcy), and then heading over to Mt. Haystack for the most spectacular view in the ADKs.
Day 3: Our third day we’ll summit Mt. Colden and then head through the scenic Avalanche Pass where we’ll spend our last night in Avalanche Camp.
Day 4: Hike out to the ADK Lodge.
Description: What does MACHed mean? Well let me tell you!
M is for Marcy, Where the trees are pretty sparse-y
A is for Avalanche Pass, Don’t you give me no sass
C is for Colden, At the top of your golden
H is for Haystack, This rhyme is whack
So come along and enjoy the fun, You’ll make some great friends before the trip is done!

Trip 8: Hiking the ADK Mile
Leaders: Nick Multari and Jared Carson
Difficulty: Moderate (Hiking) * Somewhat lengthy trip, but not much elevation change after the first day
Day 1: Starting off from Corey’s Road and hiking in to Horse Trail Shelter, then dropping packs and climbing Seward, maybe Donaldson and Emmons.
Day 2: Hiking around the Seward Range via Duck Hole to get to Shattuck Clearing where we will spend the night.
Day 3: A nice, long, relatively flat hike out to Kaitlin’s Bay on Long Lake for some swimming and relaxing.
Day 4: Just a quick jaunt to where we will be picked up.
Description: This is going to be one awesome trip. We will start our journey by summiting one of the ADK High Peaks. Day two we will head over to Duck Hole for some lunch and swimming. The rest of the trip will be spent along the Northville-Placid Trail. We will enjoy swimming, eating, and possibly a swamp crossing. Last day we will depart Catlin’s Bay for a short hike to where we meet up at the bus and leave with some fun stories to bring back to campus.

Trip 9: High Peaks Delicacies
Leaders: Dan Allen and Katie Dunn
Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult (Hiking) *Some difficult sections
Day 1: Enter at the Adirondack Loj, Heart Lake facility. Hike into Lake Colden through the beautiful Avalanche Pass route (don’t worry, there aren’t any avalanches now!). Set up camp at campsites or lean-tos at the base of Lake Colden.
Day 2: Leaving our bulky things behind, leave camp and hike up Marshall, Redfield and Cliff Mountains. Head back to home sweet home at Lake Colden for a good night’s rest.
Day 3: Pack up camp in the morning, taking everything up and over Mt. Marcy (highest peak, YEAH!) and maybe Grey Peak to lovely Johns Brook Valley and the Johns Brook Lodge. Set up camp at lean-tos or campsites near JBL.
Day 4: Break camp in the morning, head to Keene Valley for pick up and the highlight of the trip: Noonmark Diner PIE!!
Description: If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around, does it still make a noise? Doesn’t matter to me, I’d rather watch it happen! If you’re looking for some superb scenery, marvelous mountains, and fantastically fun times, come join us on this adventure. At the end of our expedition, we can guarantee some delicious pie and some groovy grub. If you’ve got the burning desire to hike and haul some gear, the come tag along!

Trip 10: The Grand Tour
Leaders: Paul Doerner and Kolby Ziemendorf 
Difficulty: Difficult (Hiking)
Day 1: Enter at the Adirondack Lodge and hike Wright, Algonquin, and Iroquois. Then camp at Beaver Point.
Day 2: Hike Marcy (the highest point in NY), Haystack, and Skylight. Then return to Beaver Point.
Day 3: Sleep in and enjoy a relaxing day of hanging out at the beautiful Lake Colden or, a favorite of many hikers, nearby Avalanche Lake. If you're in the mood for more, Mt. Colden is an option. Later, prepare to be serenaded by you trip leaders' possible guitar and harmonica "jam sesh" (Guitar song requests will be taken, but as for harmonica I hope you like "Piano Man").
Day 4: Pack up and return to the ADK Lodge for pick up.
Description: Escape civilization for four days to experience some of the most breathtaking views in the High Peak Wilderness Area of the Adirondacks. Join the current president of CUOC, who has climbed all 46 High Peaks, and another who is aspiring to do the same! Prepare to stand on six or more picturesque summits, including the highest point in New York, and make lifelong friends on this journey you are sure never to forget!

Trip 11: Extreme Gardening
Leaders: David Desmond and Adam Graham
Difficulty: Difficult (Hiking)
Day 1: Get dropped off at the Garden, hike in and hike up Big Slide then spend the night at Johns Brook Lodge.
Day 2: Hike Haystack, Basin, Saddleback and spend another night at JBL.
Day 3: Hike Gothics, Armstrong, Upper Wolfjaw (Sawteeth and lower Wolfjaw are optional).
Day 4: Hike out to the Garden for pick up.
Description: Davam is a match made in outdoorsmen heaven.  This goofy yet skilled duo is sure to lead you on the trip of a lifetime filled with laughs and unbelievable views!  This trip will also get you 9 of the 46 Adirondack high peaks under your belt!  Kick off your college career with four days on top of the world! (Or the Adirondacks at least.)
Trip 12: The Wright Choice
Leaders: Austin Skoog and Grace Hevey
Difficulty: Difficult (Hiking)
Day 1: Hike in to the dam then hike Phelps.  Tabletop if time and willpower permits.
Day 2: Hike to campsite on Colden Lake, hike Marshall or go swimming.
Day 3: Hike Iroquois, Algonquin and Wright.
Day 4: Hike out to ADK Loj for pick up.
Description: Join Grace and Austin on a fun-filled adventure through the Adirondacks. It will be a delightful but rigorous hike, bagging up to 6 High Peaks over the four day excursion, with a few lighter days and possibly some swimming. This will be a great opportunity to meet some new people and enjoy nature before beginning the school-year.

Trip FAQs

Meet Your Trip Leaders

 Eric Davidson   

Name: Eric Davidson
About me: Hello, my name is Eric Davidson and I will be James King’s assistant on our canoeing trip to Long Pond. I am an Eagle Scout from troop 633 back home in California and a registered life guard. All my life I've been an avid outdoor enthusiast. I’ve gone on numerous back-packing trips all over the continental US along with other smaller hiking, canoeing, and miscellaneous camping trips. Besides my outdoor experience, I am knowledgeable in ecological preservation and more importantly appropriate camping manners: Leave No Trace!
Major: Chemical Engineering
Class year: 2017

James King

Name: James King
About me: I enjoy the outdoors for a variety of reasons ranging from hunting and fishing to hiking and canoeing. I went on a pre-orientation trip my freshman year and loved it and have also been on some longer canoeing trips. One of my favorite trips was when my dad and I made a trip into the middle of the Canadian wilderness up in Algonquin Provincial Park a few years ago and stayed out there for 3 days. While on trips like these, you really get to see the beauty of nature at its finest and its trips like these that keep me coming back for more.
Major: Engineering Studies
Class year: 2017

Kyle Stone

Name: Kyle Stone
About me: I’m an avid skier, hunter, and fisherman but I’ll try just about anything new. I also love to canoe and am currently Canoe Chair for CUOC. I will be certified as a Wilderness First Responder as well.
Major: Environmental Engineering
Class year: 2017

William Callanan

Name: William Callanan
About me: I began scouts in 1st grade and loved to go camping and backpacking ever since! In 2011 I spent two weeks in the New Mexican back country hiking and camping. In the winter, I enjoy skiing.
Major: Computer Engineering
Class year: 2017

Colin O'Brien

Name: Colin O'Brien
About me: I grew up in North Central MA enjoying hunting, fishing, skiing, hiking, cycling, canoeing and kayaking. After coming to Clarkson I have continued my love for the outdoors and expanded some of my activities to include back country skiing (I have held a CUOC Ski Chair position for the past two years), and rock climbing. As a certified Wilderness First Responder, Eagle Scout, and call Firefighter, I have plenty of first aid experience, but hopefully will not have to use it. You should go on my trip because I like to do crazy things and so does the other crazy trip leader so then we can all do some crazy things and tell awesome stories and make even better nicknames. Let's Go Tech!
Major: Environmental Engineering
Class year: 2015 

Erin Hughes

Name: Erin Hughes
About me: I grew up in Buffalo, NY but am more than proud to call the Adirondacks my new home! I spend most of my time canoeing, whitewater kayaking, rock climbing, skiing and hiking with my dog! I have my Wilderness First Responder certification, as well as ample experience canoeing so you can be assured my trip the “Chilled Saranac” will be ice cold!
Major: Environmental Engineering
Class year: 2016

Jake Brown

Name: Jake Brown
About me: I'm an Eagle Scout and I have had Wilderness First Responder training, lifeguard training, and first aid/CPR training through the Red Cross and scouting. I enjoy rock climbing, ice climbing, hiking, camping, canoeing, kayaking, trail running, and competitive star gazing.
Major: Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering
Class year: 2017

Patrick Conlon

Name: Patrick Conlon
About me: I'm the Outing Club Gear Chair, and I have had Wilderness First Responder training. I love the outdoors and I have gone rock climbing, ice climbing, hiking, camping, and canoeing. I also have gone on several overnights in the ADK Park last semester and enjoy any chance I get to do them.
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Class year: 2017

Samuel Jortberg

Name: Samuel Jortberg
About me: I love the outdoors. Whether it's hiking, canoeing, snowboarding, or lying in a field, spending the day outside is better than being inside. I grew up in NH with the White Mountains around, so hiking and snowboarding are favorites of mine. I am currently the canoe and public relations chairs for the club. The best advantages that CUOC has to offer are the variety of gear, outdoors knowledge, and the friendly environment of people looking to get outside and have a good time!
Major: Civil Engineering
Class year: 2016

Liam Harrison

Name: Liam Harrison
About me: I grew up in the central Adirondacks and have developed a love for all things outdoors. In the winter I ski at Gore and Whiteface, as well as some cross country and back country. In the summer I guide rafts on the Hudson and am a licensed New York State Guide. I also really enjoy canoeing on nearby 13th Lake and have done the chain of lakes we are doing for our trip before as well. It should be a good one.
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Class year: 2016

Tyler Arsenault

Name: Tyler Arsenault
About me: I climb, hike and am a Ph.D. student in Mechanical Engineering. I do science and math and stuff.
Major: Mechanical Engineering

Evan Tougas

Name: Evan Tougas
About me: I like cheese and trees, that about sums things up.  
Major: Environmental Engineering
Class year: 2016

Paul Doerner

Name: Paul Doerner
About me: Hi, I'm Paul, not the three eyed monkey from Jimmy Neutron but we are related. I enjoy climbing very large rocks and going on long walks in the mountains. To me, nothing is more relaxing then unplugging and enjoying the great outdoors!
Major: Chemical Engineering
Class year: 2017

Kolby Ziemendorf

Name: Kolby Ziemendorf
About me: I am the president of CUOC and a senior mechanical engineering student graduating in December 2014.  I have participated in four years of varsity baseball as a catcher while enjoying all things outdoors. By this summer, I will have hiked all 46 peaks in the Adirondacks over 4,000 ft. I have combined my outdoor activities with my love of filming, by documenting every peak I've climbed on my YouTube channel "Frosted Lens Films." Check it out!
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Class year: 2014

David Desmond

Name: David Desmond
About me: Experienced outdoorsman, tough guy in training, and general lover of nature and fun. I’ve had lots of leadership experience and training through the National Outdoor Leadership School, as well as Boy Scouts of America. Join me to kick off your college experience with an awesome hike!
Major: Aeronautical Engineering
Class year: 2017

Adam Graham

Name: Adam Graham
About me: I am an experienced hiker, aspiring 46er, skilled skier, well known tough guy and adept juggler. With an advanced hiking pace and a splendid sense of humor, I will help lead this introduction to peak-bagging with the force of a thousand waterfalls; focusing on the foals of fun and experience in this 9-peak campout.
Major: Civil Engineering
Class year: 2017

Dan Allen

Name: Dan Allen
About me: Hello!! My name is Dan Allen and I am an Environmental Engineering major here at Clarkson University. This will be the start of my junior year and I cannot wait to get started! My experience in the outdoors includes 13+ years of hiking and backpacking in the southern Adirondacks as well as years of cross country skiing, downhill skiing and snowshoeing. I have CPR and First Aid training as well as Wilderness First Responder (WFR). Other things I enjoy doing when I’m not hiking and such are canoeing, rowing, soccer, mountain biking and anything that gets me outside or just relaxing! Come join us on one of our trips!
Major: Environmental Engineering
Class year: 2016

Katie Dunn

Name: Katie Dunn
About me: My name is Katie, and I am a Physics and Electrical Engineering double major. I’ll be a sophomore this fall, and I’m super excited to help lead an awesome trip! I’ve been hiking and backpacking in the Adirondack High Peaks for about eight years, and I really love being outdoors. In addition to being involved with the Outing Club, I ski for Clarkson’s Nordic team and also row for the Crew Team. In my free time I like to hike, ski, read, and play cello. Hope to see you on our trip!
Major: Physics and Electrical Engineering
Class year: 2017

Dylan Gilgallon

Name: Dylan Gilgallon
About me: I like to spend as much time as I can outdoors! From Hiking to skiing to crew, I can easily say I spend the vast majority of my free time in Adirondack Park! Join my trip for a great time while bagging a few high peaks before the semester even begins!
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Class year: 2017

Matt Wagner

Name: Matt Wagner
About me: My name is Matt and I am a huge fan of hiking. Getting out there and seeing the views from the tops of mountains; there is nothing better. I can’t think of a more relaxing place than on a summit looking into the valley.
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Class year: 2017

Nick Multari

Name: Nick Multari
About me: A few years ago, I moved from CT to NY and once I saw the Adirondacks, I decided it was time to get fit! I took up hiking and running, and now triathlons! Right before our trip, I will be competing in a Half Iron distance triathlon, so I will be slowly, but surely summiting the peaks on my trip!
Major: Environmental Engineering
Class year: 2015

Jared Carson

Name: Jared Carson
About me: I am sophomore from Memphis, TN and am 20 years old. I like to hike in the Adirondacks, bag high peaks, and ski. I also enjoy swimming and trail running. I participate in triathlons during my summers and hunt in my free time as well.
Major: Engineering and Management
Class year: 2017

Austin Skoog

Name: Austin Skoog
About me: I am from the exotic Libertyville, Illinois. With a passion for the outdoors only outshone by the brightest stars of the galaxy I am excited to lead a trip through the beautiful Adirondack wilderness.  I am and Eagle Scout and have backpacked in New Mexico, Arkansas, Georgia, and of course New York.  I had a lot of fun on my pre-orientation trip and I hope you do too.
Major: Physics
Class year: 2017

Grace Hevey

Name: Grace Hevey
About me: I am from Burlington, VT. I love camping and hiking and kayaking and constantly enjoyed the outdoors growing up. However, I had never been backpacking before going on a pre-orientation trip and have loved it ever since. I will have wilderness first responder training.
Major: Science Studies
Class year: 2017

HOW TO APPLY: Sign-ups for pre-orientation trips happen from April 15 to July 15. Sign up for a trip by completing your checklist items on PeopleSoft. Login with your Clarkson username and password (same as your email) at  

CUOC Pre-Orientation Trip Travel Policy and Release, Consent, and Waiver Form

Have questions we didn't answer? Try our Trip FAQs. Still didn't find your answer? Email

Mini Orientations: A mini-orientation on Monday, August 17th is available for families of students who are participating in pre-orientation trips.  This session is held for your family’s convenience so two trips to Potsdam for Orientation events are not necessary. 

IMPORTANT: Due to the nature and location of many of these trips it is direly important that you bring any medication that you could possibly need on your trip. This is even more important to students with conditions such as asthma or allergies to bee stings. If you have ever needed an inhaler, BRING IT, if you have any reason to need an Epi-pen, BRING ATLEAST ONE, we cannot provide this type of medication. If for any reason you normally wear a medical alert bracelet due to drug allergies you MUST wear it the WHOLE trip. Please come prepared with all medications you could need, and inform your leader personally of any possible medical complications you may have.

Top 5 reasons to go on a pre-Orientation trip:
5) Get an awesome T-Shirt.
4) Move in early (get all the good stuff in the room).
3) Have fun in the ‘Dacks and get settled before work sets in.
2) Meet interesting people and make new friends even before classes start.
1) Become part of the coolest club on campus!

CUOC Trips flickr