A Great Escape

Explore Photos From Student Group’s Natural Excursions
Students in Outdoors at VA Law

Students in the group Outdoors at VA Law hiked to Spy Rock in Montebello, Virginia, last fall.

May 9, 2018

Being located in both a vibrant small city and minutes from outdoor adventure has always been among the benefits of attending the University of Virginia School of Law, and one student organization takes full advantage of the area’s natural beauty.

Outdoors at VA Law plans excursions such as nature walks, hikes and outings that involve caving, rafting, skiing and snowshoeing. About 60 students participated in trips sponsored by the organization this year.

Madison Bush ’18, who served as OVaL president last year, went on her first trip during the fall break of her first year in Law School, and organized hikes this spring and last year.

“I love hiking, the farther the better,” Bush said. “I loved the experience of bonding with people from all years, and getting to know people outside my section.”

Clare Myers ’19, who serves as co-president with Shruthi Prabhu ’19, said building relationships is a main draw as well, in addition to taking a break from the library.

“We meet new people on every hike and every trip,” she said. “OVaL has done a great job of creating a place where everyone is welcome; even if you've never met someone before, you bond pretty quickly when you're sliding across a frozen waterfall together.”

She recalled the group’s hike to Spy Rock in the George Washington National Forest during the fall.

“I was co-leading the hike, so I climbed up with the last group, and when we reached the summit, it was incredible. The sun was setting, the air was crisp, and the view was breathtaking,” she said. “We were all so excited to have made it to the top. Someone had brought her dog, and many people had brought picnics and everyone was having a blast. I looked around and thought, ‘I can't believe this is how I get to spend my three years of law school.’”

They recently shared pictures from their recent trips, and spread the adventuring spirit. Featuring photos by Bush, Myers, Prabhu and Eric Hall ’18.

  • Students of OVaL

    The group took a trip to Mount Rogers, Virginia, last spring. "We stayed at a cabin nearby, then hiked up through Grayson Highlands to the tallest peak in Virginia, Mount Rogers," Bush said.

  • Jenna Goldman ’18, Joe Charlet ’18, Lorraine Simonis ’18 and Myers pause for a photo during the Mount Rogers trip

  • Eric hall and pony

    Hall captures a picture of a wild pony from the herd that roams Grayson Highlands State Park.

  • Students

    OVaL members break for lunch along the Appalachian Trail on the way from Grayson Highlands up to Mount Rogers.

  • Students in front of cabin

    This spring, OVaL members traveled to New River Gorge, West Virginia, and stayed at a cabin in Fayetteville, then hiked and whitewater-rafted along the Gauley River.


  • Rafters

    Students get ready to raft along the Gauley River on the first day of the rafting season.

  • The New River Gorge Bridge, photographed during the spring trip to West Virginia.

  • Rafting on the gorge

    “The rafting trip was definitely my favorite," Hall said. "The water was frigid and Tim Horley [’18] and I were getting soaked at the front of the raft. For the first hour or so, the six of us struggled to find our rhythm. But after Joe Charlet [’18] fell out in the middle of a rapid, we figured out how to paddle as a team, and had a blast.”

  • Mountain view

    The view from Spy Rock; “Where else could I leave class and be in a national park within an hour?” Hall said.

  • Students at Crabtree Falls

    Students in OVaL took a winter trip to Crabtree Falls, the highest vertical-drop cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River, in Nelson County, Virginia.

  • Crabtree Falls

    Crabtree Falls, partly frozen here during the group's winter trip, is part of the Blue Ridge Parkway, which runs from Afton, Virginia, to Cherokee, North Carolina.

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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