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The Cahaba River

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The Wide World Beckons

Treeline Expeditions Will Give Your Brain Rest

Photography by Photos courtesy of Treeline Expeditions.

Originally published in Birmingham Lifestyle

Bill Andrews claimed he started his side business, Treeline Expeditions, in order to get out of his own comfort zone — something he struggled with as a child. Now, Treeline Expeditions is helping kids and adults of all ages test their penchant for adventure and learn new things. 

What is the history of Treeline Expeditions? 

I wanted to start it because I was a shy kid. I never spoke up; it wasn’t my comfort zone. But I started doing some outdoor camps, and I realized that in that element I had more of a voice and people listened to me. So I stuck with it. 

At this point, Treeline Expeditions has been around for nine years, or 10 in February. My wife and I are both teachers. This has always been a dream of mine, and when our kids got older, we decided to give it a go. We started with high school kids backpacking in New Mexico. We want our adventures to be unplugged. We don’t use cell phones. They cook for themselves and hike miles each day, but the quote that stands out is ‘my brain got rest.’ 

How do the expeditions work? 

We’ve done the high school trips several times now, and we have after-school programs now too. Kids can go hiking, mountain biking or kayaking on the local rivers here after school. It lets kids who don’t play traditional sports get active and have something new to do. 

This year, we will have about three or four major trips. We do a spring trip to the islands, then one or two summer trips and then a New Year’s Eve trip if we can. We also do a lot of custom trips. The majority of what we’re doing right now is custom stuff, where people have family or friends or youth groups, and they call us, and we create a trip for them. 

Which trips are memorable? Why?

Our favorite big trip (like the one to New Mexico and other multi-day trips) is going to the Bahamas every spring. You can go sea kayaking, and camp on uninhabited islands for the week. We usually do that trip every spring, and it’s a lot of fun. We did Yellowstone one year, and I'd love to bring that one back.

The rivers are popular in the summer. It’s been fun doing all this local stuff. One of my big hopes is to add more family trips. There are a lot of places that you can send your kid to, but the shared experience with the family is so important, especially with how fast the world moves today. 

What is the future for Treeline Expeditions?

We’re just a small family business. My wife and I are the only ones in the company. We bring our kids too sometimes — they are 26 and 24 now. And my wife will go sometimes. 

But my hope is that, in a few years, I can retire from teaching, do this and partner with organizations to offer this to people who can’t afford it.

What would you say to someone who is scared to try an expedition? 

For people who want that guidance because they’re apprehensive, we can provide that — that’s what I value most. The teacher in me really wants to help people and share the journey with you and hopefully enhance it. We had our oldest client last year; I think he was 78, and he was amazing. I just put him in the boat along with me. 

I love the outdoors because it teaches natural lessons. You get natural lessons and natural consequences. We want to teach people how to enjoy the outdoors the right way — how to protect the environment and stay safe. 

  • Bill and Suzanne Andrews
  • After-school programs on the local rivers
  • Fun on the Cahaba River
  • Fun on the Coosa River
  • The Cahaba River