When he parked on the corner of Garfield Avenue and Rust Street at 4 a.m., senior geography student Badger Grylls knew what it would take for him to get to class.
“Physically it drains you, but mentally is where it hurts the most,” Grylls said. “Geographically speaking, it shouldn’t take six hours. Logistically it doesn’t work. But these crowded streets defy all odds.”
Grylls makes the six-hour trek from Eau Claire’s Third Ward neighborhood every Tuesday and Thursday, in order to get to his 10 a.m. advanced cartography class.
Despite pre-planning, Grylls said he usually arrives ten minutes late to class as the outdoors can be “unpredictable in nature.” Today however, he arrived to class a mere five minutes late, setting a personal record.
When asked how he managed to pull off the incredible time, Grylls said survival could be summed up in three simple words: Never give up.
“That’s the heart of it really,” he said. “Just keep trying.”
While the hike to campus is tough to endure, with potholes appearing out of nowhere and mile-long puddles obstructing entire blocks of sidewalk, Grylls said the most challenging aspect of the journey is finding a parking spot.
On average he said it takes him about an hour to get a parking spot. Despite arriving in the neighborhood at 3 a.m., Grylls said the competition for a spot can be fierce.
“All humanity is lost when it comes to parking,” he said. “It’s like a bunch of hawks circling a dead deer, everyone is only out for themselves.”
UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James C. Schmidt said he understands off-campus parking is at a shortage, but he would prefer students walk instead of building a parking ramp that would be an “eyesore.”
Hard work is valued at Eau Claire, he said, with obstacles such as the hill and off-campus parking serving as features to promote perseverance.
“Once students graduate, they will be able to reflect on these experiences and see how great an impact it has had.” Schmidt said. “Six hours is a long way to go to get to campus, that is true, but the journey to reach their dreams will take years. It’s all about perspective.”
However, sophomore physical education student Iyma Tieherd, is concerned she may not even make it to her graduation.
Parking off campus for the first time this year, she said the treks to and from her parking spot off campus have really taken a toll on her health and education.
“It honestly just depends what comes first. Will I fail because I’ve missed so many classes, or will I die of exhaustion?” Tiehard said. “Either way, I just don’t think I’m going to make it.”