EXP 436: Senior Expedition may appear at first glance to be just one of the many courses listed on an expeditionary studies student's Curriculum Advising & Program Planning (CAPP) Report. However, an expeditionary studies student's senior expedition is more than your average class. It is the capstone course in the program, requiring the student to use all the knowledge and skills they have developed over the past three years, culminating in a student planned and run expedition.
My expedition has been set for May 2010, and will take place along the North Carolina Coast. Myself and one other partner will paddle the 70 nautical miles of Cape Lookout National Seashore and an additional 20 nautical miles of Ocracoke region of Cape Hatteras National Seashore. We will travel in an effort to learn more about the area's natural and cultural history, as well as in search of good surf beach or two. In the process we will spend approximately six nights primitive camping on the barrier islands following Leave No Trace guidelines. Some highlights of the trip will include visiting the historic Cape Lookout and Ocracoke lighthouses and the historic city of Ocracoke, exploring the abandoned town of Porthsmouth, spotting wild ponies on Shackleford Island, and the opportunity to experience rough water and surf.
This trip will involve a moderate degree of difficulty. We will be paddling around fifteen nautical miles a day on the exposed Atlantic Coastal shoreline, allowing for the daily possibility of moderate wind and swell, caused by inclement weather. However, given the geography of the barrier islands there is the option, should the conditions arise, to take an alternate route inland through the Intracoastal Waterway. We may also choose this route for one or two days of travel, to be able to experience the marsh ecosystem that exists on the protected side of these barrier islands. Although the Outer Banks only have a small two-foot tidal range some of the inlets that cut through the barrier islands can have currents in excess of three knots. While manageable, proper planning and timing will make travel much easier.
This expedition is sure to test my planning, personal paddling, and camping skills. There is no doubt in my mind that it will be a challenging experience, but will hopefully be an enjoyable one as well. In the following pages you find the written result of the planning process for this expedition.