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Drehwing, Leto Hike Through National Parks

Katie Leto (left) and Ana Drehwing traveled with their Geology class to various National Parks in the Midwest this summer.

June 29, 2011

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EASTON, Pa. - For Lafayette student-athletes, staying active during the summer offseason often means hitting the gym and working out.

But for two women's lacrosse players, staying active for three weeks this summer meant taking a class in the Midwest - Geology 160 - that required a three-day whitewater rafting trip and the hiking of the country's most famous National Parks in Arizona and Utah several times a day.

Rising sophomores Katie Leto and Ana Drehwing, along with their fellow classmates in "Geology from A (Arches) to Z (Zion): The Geology of National Parks in the Western United States," examined how geological processes shape the Earth while exploring the Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, Grand Staircase of the Escalante, Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands, Goosenecks of the San Juan, Monument Valley, Sunset Crater and Meteor Crater.

"One of the initial reasons I was attracted to this trip was because of how active I knew it was going to be," Leto (Chatham, N.J./Chatham) said. "I think that the nature of this trip is already very attractive to athletes because it is so physical and adventurous."

The course was an introductory Geology course that included many non-Geology majors. The two teammates fit that description, as Leto studies History and Drehwing is a Psychology major. To catch the students up, the two professors, Lawrence Malinconico and David Sunderlin, began the course with two days of intensive study at Lafayette, learning basic geological concepts and earth materials.

"I have never taken any sort of geology course in my life, so I just sort of assumed the class was about rocks," Drehwing (Wyckoff, N.J./Ramapo), a Patriot League Academic Honor Roll selection last semester, said. "But I found a strong interest in the material which set the stage for an exciting three weeks.

"Geology was in everything we saw and experienced throughout the trip. From the Grand Canyon rock layers to a water fountain outside one of our hotels, geology surrounded us."

The students were graded on their scores on four different exams, as well as a field notebook that they were required to update with notes and sketches throughout their trip.

A little more than a week was spent at the Grand Canyon, which began with a three-day whitewater rafting trip on the Colorado River into the Canyon. The stop concluded with a 10-mile hike up out of the Canyon, from base to rim.

"The hike out was definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip," Leto said. "It was a very challenging experience but the views along the way were spectacular, and once we all reached the top it was so rewarding."

Outside of the physical demands of the course, it also required long days that began with early wake-ups at 7 a.m. and lots of traveling. The only time they were able to relax back at the hotel was late in the evenings.

But for the two Leopards, the arduous days allowed them to open their eyes up to parts of the Earth that are billions of years old that the two New Jersey natives were previously unfamiliar with.

"Waking up early allowed us to fill the day with the most beautiful rocks, structures and landscapes I would never have been able to imagine," Drehwing said. "The early and long days were definitely worth what we were lucky enough to be able to experience and see every day."