University Dean's List: 10 Inspiring Students Living the RootsRated Lifestyle

Go Wild for a While
Go Wild for a While Dylan Alvarez
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This year, RootsRated, alongside College Outside and adidas Outdoor, created the first annual RootsRated University Inspiration Grant. Open only to student applicants, the grant was designed to provide travel cash and gear to send one student on the trip of their dreams—without the limitations of their college budget.

RootsRated was dreamt up by a group of guys with a passion for venturing out and exploring incredible outdoor destinations across the US, so we were completely psyched (and honestly blown away) to see so many students living the RootsRated lifestyle and dreaming of going wild for a while. We have looked through hundreds of applicants and had to make some pretty tough calls, but we've finally picked out the best submissions.

Here are ten of our favorite entries—and the adventures that these students daydream about—starting with our first pick and the winner of the first RootsRated University Inspiration Grant.

Michael Turner: Our Valedictorian and Inspiration Grant Winner

Soaking it all in at Glacier Point- Yosemite National Park
Soaking it all in at Glacier Point- Yosemite National Park Michael Turner

School: Berry College
Major: International Studies
Favorite RootsRated destination: Devil's Garden

Michael's dream trip:"I’ve been lucky enough to learn the value of a road trip, but there are places I have yet to visit and people I love who I have yet to share an incredible adventure with. My dream trip is a 3 week road trip this May in a minivan across the Southwestern U.S. (Grand Canyon, Zion, Joshua Tree, etc..), up California (Sequoia, Yosemite), to Grand Teton and Yellowstone, down and around Colorado, then home to Georgia. I have been dreaming through this trip with two of my best friends from college. What makes this trip special is that we get to do it together in celebration of our college years and before we all go get real jobs and move to new places. The gear money would go towards equipment like a new camp stove, quality cooler, maybe an upgraded tent. The travel grant would help with gas, campsites, and a whole lot of CLIF bars. Any extra funds would go towards gear to help document this incredible trip. Onward!"

Aaron Hairston

Views from Snooper's Rock, Chattanooga, TN
Views from Snooper's Rock, Chattanooga, TN Aaron Hairston

School: University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Major: Communications
Favorite RootsRated destination: Rainbow Lake

Aaron’s dream trip:  "For the past two years, my friend Jonathan and I have tried to plan a trip to the Grand Canyon! Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon are part of the plan too, but the real prize is hidden. We want to hike to one of America’s most gorgeous gems, Havasu Falls. I’ve never been west of the Rockies, and I would love to spend the night under the stars in the Grand Canyon. For whatever circumstances, whether it was financially or scheduling, we could never make it work. This summer, I am determined to make it happen! I would use the grant specifically towards camping and hiking gear, as well as park passes. Some of the other money would go towards gas and food expenses. The trip is *planned for the end of May first week of June."

Chance Ronemus

Climbing "The Good Looking One" in Hyalite Canyon- Bozeman MT
Climbing "The Good Looking One" in Hyalite Canyon- Bozeman MT Chance Ronemus

School: Montana State University, Bozeman
Major: Geology
Favorite RootsRated destination: Indian Creek climbing

Chance's dream trip:"If I receive this grant, I seek to pursue my dreams of testing myself against the brutal frozen test-piece alpine climbs of the Moose’s Tooth, Peak 11,300, and Mount Huntington in the Central Alaska Range. Should we succeed, I believe my partner and I would become the youngest team to climb each mountain. This will help me progress as an alpinist and give me valuable perspective on who I am as a person as well as a climber.

Additionally, I would like to attempt a first ascent on the West Face of Peak 11,300. I’ve researched a number of beautiful unexplored lines on this face. I believe that climbing in this way, moving fast and light over untouched technical terrain, is the epitome of the experience we all seek in the mountains.

I am planning on leaving May 6th from my home in Bozeman and returning May 31st."

Lena Milton

The summit of Mount Whitney at the end of Lena's 230-mile trek of the John Muir Trail
The summit of Mount Whitney at the end of Lena's 230-mile trek of the John Muir Trail Lena Milton

School: Brown University
Major: Undecided, but interested in Archaeology and Environmental Studies
Favorite RootsRated destination: Alamere Falls

Lena’s dream trip:"I have always dreamed of going to Glacier National Park in Montana ever since I saw a picture of the spectacular Saint Mary Lake. Glacier National Park’s extraordinary and unique landscape has it all: mountains, wildflowers, lakes, and of course, glaciers. I want to get to Glacier before the glaciers melt! More specifically, I would like to hike 92 miles from Siyeh Bend to the top of Logan Pass. I would love to backpack this trail in particular because it looks like the exact kind of challenge that I seek out. The trail traverses some of the most beautiful parts of the park, such as the Fifty Mountain area, as well as many more remote, less populated parts of the park. I’d like to take this trip in August, to get my fix of the mountains before I go back to school!"

Kyle Wood

Looking out from Charlie's Bunion- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Looking out from Charlie's Bunion- Great Smoky Mountains National Park Kyle Wood

School: University of Tennessee Knoxville
Major: Kinesiology
Favorite RootsRated destination: Cumberland Gap National Historic Park

Kyle's dream trip:"Ever since I, as a young boy, heard my uncle’s campfire stories of his time in Zion National Park in Utah, I have felt drawn to the place more than anywhere in the world. Following the conclusion of the hardest semester of my life in the first week of May, my roommate and best friend of four years, Hunter, and I are looking to celebrate with the best trip of our lives. We will hopefully set out for Zion around May 6th or so, and spend 8 days backpacking and climbing. Our goal is to do the Grand Traverse from Kolob Canyon to Angel’s Landing, then take the park shuttle up to the Virgin River Narrows and spend two days backpacking that canyon (as long as the water levels have not risen too high). This would, total, be about a 10 or 11 day trip. For my roommate, it would be even more special, as we would be spending his 20th birthday in Zion."

Dylan Alvarez

Looking out over the Mt. Aspiring range in New Zealand while studying abroad
Looking out over the Mt. Aspiring range in New Zealand while studying abroad Dylan Alvarez

School: Johns Hopkins University
Major: Global Environmental Change and Sustainability/Earth and Planetary Science
Favorite RootsRated destination: Great Falls Park

Dylan's dream trip:"My dream trips, like most, range from the relatively attainable and realistic ones to the more fantastical and lofty goals. I have a list far too long (or not long enough) of places to explore but for now, I want to start with a climbing trip to Red Rocks Canyon, in Las Vegas, NV. I’ve never climbed on sandstone before and, being from Miami, the desert is a strange and exotic place for me. Plus, it just sounds super cool, from the crazy temp differences to the wildlife and vistas and red rock! Being a photographer, I’m excited to see what kinds of landscape scenes I could capture as well. There are also several long multi-pitch climbs I’d love to tick off, if not for the quality climbing but also for the photogenic desert views. I’m potentially planning a trip for my spring break this year (around late March), which is the peak of the climbing season in Red Rocks. I’ve talked to some friends and hopefully “roped” them in on the idea, it’d also be a teaching experience for them since they haven’t done much multi-pitch climbing before!"

James Turner

Palmer Lake, Bridger-Teton National Forest
Palmer Lake, Bridger-Teton National Forest James Turner

School: North Carolina State University in Raleigh
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Favorite RootsRated destination: Anything in Lander, WY

James's dream trip:"There’s something powerful about standing on a peak, turning 360 degrees, and seeing few signs of humanity. Alpine climbing is one of the only ways I know of to achieve this experience. I fell in love with it in the Cirque of the Towers, and now I’m drawn to the Bugaboos for a new adventure. I first saw them in a magazine, those impeccable granite peaks surrounded by an ocean of snow and ice. It was an objective I never thought I could attain: it was too hard and expensive to reach. But now they’re within my ability. For me, this trip isn’t about ticking off another route, it’s about experiences that leave an impact. This trip is about personal growth: pushing my limits, exploring new lands, and satiating a hunger for adventure. My partner and I plan to travel at the end of July, and climb for 5 days. Our ultimate goal is the Beckey-Chouinard route, an ultra-classic test climbing ability."

Daniell LaFleur

Climbing at the Fisher Towers- Moab, UT
Climbing at the Fisher Towers- Moab, UT Daniell LaFleur

School: University of Northern Colorado
Major: English Liberal Arts, Minor in Earth Sciences
Favorite RootsRated destination: Garden of the Gods climbing

Daniell's dream trip:"A couple guides that work the same climbing company that I do, Front Range Climbing Company, recently took a trip to a place called El Potrero Chico in Mexico. I’ve never heard of this place, but Patrick and Mollie travel to climbing areas throughout Canada, America, and Mexico every off-season chasing warm weather and sunshine; I’ve never heard of the majority of places they’ve been to. I began looking into El Potrero Chico though, because they’ve been there 8 weeks so far, and have been climbing just about every other day. Climbing that often in the same place for 8 weeks—how much climbing is there? So I did some research, and there’s a ton of limestone here! El Potrero Chico even boasts routes that are 20 pitches long! My dream has been to climb something that long, and just outside the town of Hidalgo, I finally can. My dream trip would be to travel to the town of Hidalgo, Mexico and climb in El Potrero Chico for two weeks this summer."

Amy Bredes

Verkeerderkill Falls
Verkeerderkill Falls Amy Bredes

School: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Major: Environmental Engineering
Favorite RootsRated destination: Whiteface Mountain

Amy's dream trip:"The trip I would love to pursue would be caving and hiking in southern Ohio and Kentucky. When started college I was already an avid hiker, but I soon learned about caving as a sport. There are many caves near Troy, and I find nothing more enchanting than a cave. I enjoy seeing what few have seen and witnessing the unique geological features under my feet. This trip would most likely occur the week of August 14th. There are numerous caves in the area of southern Ohio and Kentucky due to the limestone bed rock, and glacier movement of the past. Caves that would be on my list include; the Rock House at Hocking Hills, Old Man’s Cave, and Saltpetre Cave in Ohio, and Climax Cave and Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. I would enjoy hiking around the areas as well; there are scenic water features caved out of the limestone."

Check out Amy's destination review of Verkeerderkill Falls and Ice Caves.

Carson Meyer

Traversing Wolf's Head- Wind River Range, WY
Traversing Wolf's Head- Wind River Range, WY Carson Meyer

School: Montana State University
Major: Photography, minoring in Business
Favorite RootsRated destination: Anything Jackson, WY

Carson's dream trip:"My dream trip would be going to Yosemite with my girlfriend to do our first big wall climb. For years, I have dreamed of the huge granite cliffs and hanging from them. Yosemite has been a testing ground for climbers from around the world since the first climbs were put up in the 1940s by legends such as Tom Frost and Royal Robbins. Climbing has been such a huge part of my life and I would love to take it to this next level. Winning this grant would mean I could finish acquiring all the big wall climbing gear I would need and take time off work to drive down to Yosemite in May for a couple weeks. While we were there I would start out climbing smaller objectives with my eyes on a climb called The South Face of Washington Column. The climb is rated 5.8 C1 grade V, is 10 pitches of climbing and usually takes parties two days to complete."

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