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Odyssey in the Ozarks: A Unique Outdoor Adventure in Arkansas

One of my college roommates, Ashley Korenblat, arrived at Dartmouth from Little Rock, Arkansas, as a ballet dancer with a thick southern accent. Her outdoor experiences were limited to family ski trips to Colorado and romping around the school playground as a kid. Over her four years in Hanover, she morphed into a hardcore mountain gal who could race with the varsity ski team, scale 4,000-footers in the White Mountains, and paddle the length of the Connecticut River to the sea.

Before Ashley and I were thrown together in college, the idea of going to Arkansas was more foreign to me than traveling to most countries around the globe. An avid hiker, I had heard of the Ozarks, but they were so far down my bucket list, behind places in the Rockies, Alps, and Himalayas, that I hadn’t given them much thought until this summer, when the opportunity arose to attend a conference in Little Rock.

I couldn’t quell my curiosity about Ashley’s home state and decided to make the trip. Arriving in the wake of massive flooding and temperatures in the 90s, I never climbed a mountain in Arkansas, but I had a number of memorable outdoor experiences, starting at the Potlatch Conservation Education Center (PCEC).

Story and photos by Lisa Ballard

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