NOLS Alumni Magazine - The Leader Summer 2018

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Veteran Carries NOLS Lessons to Afghanistan A New Map

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Father and Son Grads Rediscover the Winds Together 18

C5 Youth Foundation 20

From the President

THE LEADER August 2018 • Volume 33 • No. 3 Published three times a year in April, August, and November.



Laura Griffee Luke Hyce Lori Karker Emmi Laakso ALUMNI RELATIONS DIRECTOR

Rich Brame


y office, in the center of the NOLS headquarters building, has only a small window looking outside. I often see students gathering in conference rooms for debriefs, but I can’t see them as they travel between NOLS Rocky Mountain and the Noble Hotel pre- and post- course. Instead, I encounter students—often when they are just off a course— when I’m walking between buildings and meld into their group. They don’t know me, so they don’t hold back, and overhearing their conversations is enlightening and enjoyable for me. There are jokes only they get, references to experiences only they’ve had together. There’s an energy about these newly-minted grads, a connection not there 30 or 60 or 90 days ago. It reminds me, in the midst of meetings and paperwork, why I love what NOLS does. Why I love what all our instructors and staff do. And it happens most of all in summer, the theme of this issue. It’s the busiest time school-wide, and certainly the busiest time for NOLS Rocky Mountain, our largest location. “Peak Week,” usually the second week in July, is the time the NOLS Rocky Mountain location has the most students in the field at once. (For more information about NOLS Rocky Mountain, see page 13). The Wind River Mountains, just a stone’s throw away from NOLS Headquarters and NOLS Rocky Mountain, is the setting for an account of a father and son, grads from 1981 and 2014 respectively, who revisited those mountains together last summer, rediscovering the solitude they offer. That story is on page 18. This issue’s cover story, a look at NOLS’ partnership with the C5 Youth Program, describes the organization’s work guiding students and setting them up for future success. The value of NOLS Wilderness Medicine training is illustrated in the rescue of a surfer by a graduate who also learned you sometimes have to step up when no one else can or will. Read that harrowing tale on page 13. Last of all, see the “How-To” stories on camping with kids (page 26) and fly fishing (page 27). Both offer tips on how to succeed in those archetypal summer pastimes. How ever you plan to spend the rest of your summer, I hope this issue of The Leader inspires you to get outside and explore. Best,

John Gans NOLS President 2 | THE LEADER





Molly Herber Brooke Ortel Gary Wilmot

Postmaster: Send address changes to NOLS, 284 Lincoln St., Lander, WY 82520 The Leader is a magazine for alumni of NOLS, a nonprofit global school focusing on wilderness skills, leadership, and environmental ethics. It is mailed to approximately 71,000 NOLS alumni. NOLS graduates living in the U.S. receive a free subscription to The Leader for life. The Leader welcomes article submissions and comments. Please address all correspondence to leader@ or call 1-307-332-8800. Alumni can direct address changes to or 1-800-332-4280. For the most up-to-date information on NOLS, visit or email The Leader is printed with soy-based inks in Los Angeles, Cal., on paper using 10 percent post-consumerrecycled content. The Leader is available online at Cover photo: Photo courtesy of C5



Recognize the wild that every person faces. Your Feedback | Letters


Teach the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate uncertainty. Curriculum | Time Management Skills



Research | The Value of Wilderness Medicine Research


Alumni Profile | Nicole Whittington-Evans


How To | Camp with Kids


Alumni Profile | José González


How To | Fly Fish


Alumni Trips | Sea Kayaking in the Bahamas and Backpacking in Thailand


Reviews | Code Billy


Featured Course | NOLS Semesters


Gear Review | Chaco


Featured Location | NOLS Rocky Mountain


Nutrition | Vegetarian Neatballs


Alumni in Action | Rescue in Baja


NOLS in Action | Interactive Sustainability Tool


Staff Profiles | The Heart of NOLS




Push people to experience the uncertain.


Feature | Veteran Carries NOLS Lessons to Afghanistan


Feature | A New Map: One Man’s Journey into Uncharted Terrain


Feature | Father and Son Grads Rediscover the Winds Together


Cover Story | C5 Youth Foundation



YOUR FEEDBACK | LETTERS “Three days ago, my sister in Colorado infor- “Shocked that no one vetted this article (“How med me she saw me in The Leader—with hair! to Plan and Go on a Canyon Trip,” Spring 2018) My copy finally arrived via Pony Express in for common sense. Nowhere does a NOLS northwest Montana. It’s probably way too late instructor, of all people, mention checking to win a prize guessing myself, but I believe she on the weather! She comments about sunis correct: the picture in ‘Who Is This’ is me. shine, deep blue sky, and snow covering the It would be interesting to find out where/ nearby mountains. Nor does she mention from whom you got this photo. It’s pretty old. letting anyone know where she and her partI’m still rocking the wool hat with nylon shell ner in crime are going canyoneering. Seems on it and it looks as if my wind shirt is Flight very irresponsible. ” Satin. Possibly my very first trip with Steve Goryl, Walter Fish, and Sandy Bacon as instr- –Peter A. Wiener NOLS Grad uctors in Yellowstone around 1976. P.S. I am still active, doing what I learned Editor’s Note and taught at NOLS 30 years ago. Now with Thanks, Peter, for the reminder that a weather National Ski Patrol (a Nordic backcountry check and leaving an itinerary with someone patrol), currently guiding cross-country skiers you trust should always be part of a trip plan. and snowshoers in Glacier Park in winter and guiding fishermen and working hiking trips in Gla-cier Park for Road Scholar in the summers.” –Rusty Wells NOLS Instructor

Love NOLS? Share your memories with us. Send your feedback, artwork, photography, or personal story to, post on social media, or give us a call at 1-800-710-6657 ext. 2254. Find past issues online at



NOLS IN ACTION | INTERACTIVE SUSTAINABILITY By Kara Colovich Sustainability Coordinator

• • • • •

An interactive Prezi teaches readers about NOLS’ sustainability initiatives. Zlatko Plamenov


his summer, NOLS released a first-ever interactive, virtual sustainability report. This comprehensive new tool allows the entire NOLS community—from alumni and prospective students to NOLS instructors and staff—to learn about initiatives taking place at NOLS locations around the world in one convenient location. In a time when sustainability and climate change are global issues, NOLS seeks to make its intent and values accessible and available to anyone with a web browser. While sustainability reporting has occurred since 2010, this is the first time interactive software has been used. The Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability department at NOLS World Headquarters created this report because it recognized the grand scale of action occurring on the sustainability front around the school, and a need to share a cohesive story or a broader view of how everybody’s actions fit into the same goal. NOLS wants to share those

practices across locations to inspire collaboration with both prospective students who value and expect sustainability in our organization, and alumni who wish to stay connected to the environmental mission of the school. The report uses an interactive platform that keys into the viewers’ natural curiosity and sense of exploration. You can zoom into areas of interest without having to flip through pages of text. If you’re interested in how climate change is impacting our NOLS courses in Alaska, you can find that page in just seconds. For any of the following topic areas, you can find in-depth information highlighting activities across locations: • • • • • • •

Climate change Food Waste Transportation Water conservation Landscaping Green cleaning

Purchasing practices Behavior and education Energy efficiency Renewable energy Environmental stewardship

Each of these topics unlocks unique practices used by NOLS locations or explains the standard practice within the organization. Under the transportation subtopic “Optimizing Travel,” for example, you’ll learn that in 2017, NOLS Scandinavia used public transportation for 80 percent of their course travel. Or, under “Environmental Stewardship,” you’ll learn what the terms of engagement are that NOLS weighs when considering participation in environmental stewardship campaigns, such as the U.S. National Monument review. With this information available, and with NOLS’ actions easy to browse, NOLS hopes this interface can spark collaboration within the organization and across the industry, and that it inspires more leaders to take action. To view the Sustainability at NOLS 2017 report, see: sustainability/

Kara Colovich Kara grew up in Lander, Wyoming with the Wind River Mountains as her playground. Her drive for sustainability stems from the humanitarian and environmental realities of climate change around the world.




First Last


assionate about teaching and committed to preparing others for leadership, our instructors are experts in expedition skills, wilderness medicine, and risk management. As they paddle, climb, hike, teach, and lead their way across the globe, they dis-


play prodigious feats of endurance, empathy and good cheer. The folks on this page are some of our busiest, so chances are you’ll know some of these faces. Kudos to all our hardworking instructors and a special thank you to these, the busiest educators we know.










Wilderness Medicine Quiz QUESTION | The available incident data for wilderness schools and programs shows us that the most common injuries are soft tissue (cuts, scrapes, etc.) and ______________. a) Athletic injuries, sprains and strains. b) Fractures. c) Dislocations. d) Wound infections. Answer on page 30.







Check out more staff profiles online at



ALUMNI PROFILE NICOLE WHITTINGTON-EVANS By Kathryn Wheeler Operations Coordinator

“Just as if you were approaching a wilderness experience, you want to make sure that you’re prepared...”


or Nicole Whittington-Evans, Alaska regional director of The Wilderness Society, passion for and awe of the outdoors is the major driver behind her work. Nicole speaks of her time in the outdoors with a clear reverence and gratitude for what NOLS and the natural world have given her. Nicole came to NOLS as a student on a Semester in Alaska, which stirred her passion for the Alaskan wilderness. Her first night on Prince William Sound included a seemingly

choreographed show of wild nature at its finest, complete with breaching whales and jumping salmon, all backlit by the silvery midnight sun. Nicole often references that first night as having a life-altering impact as she chose to leave behind her East Coast graduate school dreams to pursue a career in the outdoors. After her course, Nicole continued to work for NOLS in a variety of roles: as an instructor, admissions officer, and in the rations room. Spurred by the crisis of the Valdez oil spill on the pristine Prince

William Sound she had revered, Nicole pursued an advanced degree in environmental science. Shortly after graduating, she began working for The Wilderness Society as the assistant director, and eventually, as the Alaska regional director in 2010. Nicole now advocates for the protection of one of America’s most untamed and threatened wildernesses, and often looks to NOLS’ model of leadership in her day-to-day work. She believes that in life, “just as if you were approaching a wilderness experience, you want to make sure that you’re prepared, that you have all the gear, all the team members, and that you’re gonna move forward safely, in good style, and with a happy team of campers.” With passion and fervor, Nicole has carried her NOLS experience forward into a life committed to wilderness, grounded in the values of teamwork, consideration of others, and undying awe.

Kathryn Wheeler Kathryn is an operations coordinator for NOLS Custom Education. She enjoys exploring the area via bike and assuming the role of “coach” for Lander Ultimate Frisbee games.

Nicole’s time on Prince William Sound during her NOLS semester influenced her life’s work. Devin Duffy




By Jorge Moreno Custom Education Account Manager

“Nature helps remind us how to be human, and at the same time grounds us...”


sk 10 people how they met or heard about José González, the founder of Latino Outdoors and a NOLS Wilderness Medicine alum, and you’ll get 10 different answers. Families in the San Francisco Bay Area will say they met him on a hike at Mount Tamalpais. President Barack Obama will tell you he met José at the White House. Outdoor industry leaders might know José from following him on social media for years. Regardless of where, when, or how you meet José, one thing is for sure: you’ll remember it. José founded Latino Outdoors in 2013 with the goal of uniting his passions for nature, education, and the Latinx community. In building the organization, now a well-established nonprofit operating in cities across the country, José created space for Latinx people of all ages to experience the outdoors as a place for learning, adventure, healing, and connection. “Nature helps remind us how to be human, and at the same time grounds us,” José said. Today, José is recognized as an innovator and leader in the outdoors— but getting to that point, and finding his leadership style, took hard work and selfreflection. At first, he said, “I didn’t know what kind of voice I wanted to use. There was always this element of risk of trying different ways.” What José did know was that the more he felt like himself, the more genuine

José founded Latino Outdoors to fuse passions for the outdoors, education, and his community. Raul Hernandez

his voice became. “When you find your signature style, you just feel it, everything seems right,” José said. “It’s very similar to when you find the perfect job and you feel alive and welcome.” In 2015, José was the keynote speaker at the NOLS Summit, an opportunity he saw as a way to help the Latinx community see a place for themselves in the nation’s leading outdoor education organization. “It was my responsibility to accept the invitation and use my voice to help open up space for future NOLS alumni,” he recalled. José’s visit to NOLS was bookended by 2014 and 2016 course scholarships for Wilderness First Aid courses, training a total of 44 volunteers, ambassadors, and coordinators, including himself. Today, just five years after José started Latino Outdoors, the organization’s community members are an

active part of NOLS as Wilderness First Responder graduates, expedition students, field instructors, and full-time employees. José travels across the nation seeking and pursuing creative ways to strengthen communities around issues of conservation, education, and culture. If you ever have the chance to meet him, take it—you’ll remember it.

Jorge Moreno Jorge likes running, backpacking, and following his curiosity, which brought him from San Francisco to his new home in Lander, Wyoming in early 2018.





ontinue your summer adventures by adding a fall trip with NOLS Alumni to your calendar. Our trips are for both our alumni and their guests, and cater to the interests and learning styles of our participants. Join a trip somewhere in the world that is new to you and

NOLS Alumni Reunions Thanks for another successful NOLS Alumni reunion season! Our spring community events happened in Boston, Austin, Seattle, San Francisco, and points in between. Reunions are a fun way for all types and eras of grads to meet, learn, network, and socialize. Stay tuned for fall events in New York, Chicago, Driggs, and beyond. See you there!

trust NOLS to run the show. We have a wide variety of offerings every year and are adding more trips for 2019. If you don’t see what you’re interested in, contact us; we build custom trips as well. For more information or to sign up, call 1-800-332-4280 or visit

1. Sea Kayaking in the Bahamas – Alumni DATE | November 10-17, 2018 (7 days) COST | $1,995 (includes pre/post-trip lodging in Georgetown) Paddle the Bahamas’ pristine waters in the Out Islands and Exuma Cays. Experience white sand beaches, palm trees, and sunny weather on this weeklong expedition. This trip focuses on paddling skills, snorkeling, and exploring the coastline. Reconnect with your NOLS roots and build paddling skills in this relaxed and beautiful place.



Camping on beaches is scenic, but paddling means plenty of sun and possible wind.

2. Backpacking in Thailand – Alumni DATE | January 25-February 3, 2019 (7 days) COST | $2,195 (includes intra country flight and pre/post-trip lodging in Chiang Mai) Explore the rugged mountains and villages in northern Thailand with NOLS instructors and a local guide. Your group will backpack to and stay in small villages of the Karen people while exploring the Mae Hong Son region. The remote landscape, jungle environment, and rural communities are highlights of this beautiful area. Moderate


Cultural immersion blends with challenging, trailed jungle hiking.




Lynn Petzold

Rachel Roff

Cass Colman



NOLS offers semesters in the Rockies, New Zealand, Patagonia, Southwest, East Africa, Baja, Pacific Northwest, and India. All qualify for college credit.

By Brooke Ortel Writer


n her Rocky Mountain Outdoor Educator semester, Erin Philips skied backcountry mountains, canoed whitewater rapids, and backpacked across the Utah desert. Each new landscape brought fresh experiences, including the day she and her coursemates reached a water source in the desert’s slot canyons and danced in celebration. The desert awakened another kind of thirst as well, a burning curiosity about the beautiful and harsh environment that surrounded them: “Escalante taught me a very special lesson: to stop. To stop doing and start listening.” And, more importantly, “we learned we must create our own maps and stories through experience that become etched in the wrinkles of our skin.” Whether you’re an outdoor educator, college student, or taking a gap year, a semester in the wilderness offers the time, space, and real-world challenges that will prepare you to chart your own path. As a semester student, you’ll have the opportunity to earn first-aid certifications and learn technical skills

from mountaineering to backpacking, all in one multi-element course. High instructor-student ratios mean that you’ll receive unparalleled one-on-one coaching and leadership training. For Logan Claytor, Tanzania was an unknown, a kaleidoscope of wildcards to be explored. That was one of the reasons he chose to study abroad on a NOLS East Africa semester course in college. “From the moment you land in Kilimanjaro airport, everything is different—the food, language, wildlife, people,” he recalled. Spending several months immersed in an unfamiliar landscape and culture was an incredible adventure—and a chance to earn academic credit for learning outside the classroom. One of the highlights of studying abroad in Tanzania, he said, was the opportunity to interact with Maasai cultural liaisons: “They added so much to the course, I can’t imagine it with just instructors and students.” Logan and his coursemates often found themselves accepting impromptu meal invitations from the Maasai. They played soccer games with local kids and

sat in on classes, teaching English and learning Swahili. No matter what corner of the world they explore, semester grads tend to have one thing in common: they come home with a new sense of purpose. As a recent college grad, Carolyn Highland wasn’t sure what she wanted to do next, so she signed up for a semester in New Zealand. Today, she’s a teacher and writer, living the life she laid the foundation for while sleeping tent-less under the starry sky. Looking back on the experience, she said that her course “awoke me to exactly the way I wanted to live my life.”

Brooke Ortel Brooke is a runner and writer who enjoys finding adventure in the everyday. True to her Block Island, Rhode Island roots, she loves sunshine and that salty ocean smell.





By Anne McGowan Development Communications Coordinator


f you count yourself as a NOLS grad, there’s a more than 3-in-10 chance you experienced NOLS through the Rocky Mountain location. That’s right: though it’s one of 16 NOLS locations, 35 percent of all NOLS students are outfitted, dispensed rations, and transported from the building at the corner of Fifth and Lincoln streets in Lander, Wyoming. Though “the RM,” as it’s called, is nestled downtown (as is the beautiful and historic Noble Hotel, which serves as its dormitory), it’s just a few miles from trailheads leading into the majestic northern Rocky Mountains. Historically, the RM was, and continues to be, the busiest NOLS location. Paul Petzoldt started the school in 1965 in a small cabin in Sinks Canyon, south of Lander, but moved to town in 1970. This season, more than 1,780 students will head off to the wilderness from NOLS Rocky Mountain. That’s the tally of students from roughly 200 courses: 133 open-enrolled expeditions, 65 NOLS Custom Education courses, 10 seminars, 13 Alumni courses, and 6 Outreach courses. During “Peak Week,” the busiest week of the year, usually falling the second week in July, NOLS Rocky Mountain has, on average, 50 courses in the field. NOLS Rocky Mountain doesn’t just run operations out of Lander, though: our largest location also oversees programs at the River Base in Vernal, Utah;

WYOMING Three Peaks Ranch in Boulder, Wyoming; NOLS Northeast in Gabriels, New York; and NOLS East Africa in Tanzania. Courses emanating from NOLS Rocky Mountain run on 30 permits on public lands in 7 western states, Kilimanjaro National Park, Ngorongoro Crater National Park, and private homes and communities. In Lander, this takes the effort of 30 full-time employees and about 20 part-timers—working mostly in the summer—who are responsible for preparing students with a cumulative 75,000 pounds of rations, 1,000 backpacks, and almost 600 pairs of hiking boots and ski boots. Four full-time and two part-time drivers each travel 15,000-25,000 miles per year. But with 53 years of history behind them, and hundreds of years of combined outdoor experience, the NOLS Rocky Mountain staff is up for the challenge.

42° N, 108° W

Location Lander, Wyoming is home to NOLS Rocky Mountain. It’s located just two blocks from NOLS World Headquarters.

Building NOLS Rocky Mountain has occupied the same location since 1970, though a massive construction project in 1989 added more than 10,000 square feet. Additional renovations have occurred since then. Nearby, the restored 100-year-old Noble Hotel houses students pre- and post- course.

Opening Date The first course headed into the mountains on June 8, 1965.

Skills Anne McGowan Anne grew up camping and hiking with her family in Pennsylvania. A Wind River Wilderness - Prime grad, she left newspaper publishing to write about all things NOLS.

Skills taught on courses originating at NOLS Rocky Mountain include backpacking; mountaineering; whitewater kayaking, rafting, and canoeing; rock climbing; backcountry skiing; winter camping and avalanche awareness; horsepacking; cultural home stays; wildlife safaris; canyoneering; outdoor education; and leadership.

Fun Fact Rations Manager Claudia Pearson, Transportation Manager Steve Matson, and Outfitting Manager Kevin McGowan have worked at NOLS Rocky Mountain for a cumulative total of 118 years. 12 | THE LEADER

Luke Hyce




Surfing in Baja California Sur. Courtesy of Lisa Kosglow


y NOLS Wilderness Medicine course made a real difference in my life—and in someone else’s. A former competitive snowboarder, I followed a long-time dream to start a summer adventure-camp program. Busy summers running the camp in Oregon are balanced by winter surf trips in Baja California Sur, Mexico, for me and my family. After a couple seasons in both locations, I took a NOLS Wilderness First Responder course last May. My camp programs operate in the frontcountry, but WFR training is an industry standard and, coupled with family time on faraway beaches and deep in the mountains, I wanted the training. One afternoon, six months after my NOLS course, we were back in Baja where a south swell lured us to a beach we’d forgone for more remote ones. The out-of-season swell delivered waves, and a few people were in the water, including a small cluster of surfers and one stand-up paddler. As I paddled over a breaking wave, I saw the next one about to break with one surfer paddling over it and the stand-up paddler dropping in. What happened next played out in front of

me like a horrible car wreck. As she dropped in, the stand-up paddler saw the surfer and instinctually jumped off her board. Her board shot down the face of the wave and connected squarely with the surfer’s head. Another wave came through. The surfer floated in the water near the rocks, not moving. I shouted to the paddler, offering help, and she motioned me to come over. I quickly recognized things were bad. The surfer, unconscious, had a large hole in her cheek, and a mixture of blood and foam bubbled from it. The paddler was visibly upset, and only spoke Spanish. I called to a man in the water, but he refused to help. It was going to be up to me. The injured surfer was considerably taller and heavier than me—plus she was unconscious and waterlogged. Still, I took off our surf leashes and hoisted her onto the paddle board. Twice she was knocked off by waves and twice I hauled her limp body back onto the board. Twice I called to the man surfing near us and twice he declined to help. Meanwhile, the paddler watched in shock, unable to help. I paddled with all my strength away from the rocks and towards the beach while holding the surfer on the board.

On land, another surfer helped me pull the now-blue body onto the beach. The new arrival also didn’t speak English but immediately began chest compressions. I stabilized the surfer’s head but, because of the amount of blood, we decided not to do rescue breaths. Instead, I rolled her on her side where she expelled water, vomit, and foam, then turned her onto her back for more compressions. Together we worked to bring the woman back. The color changed in her face and she eventually regained consciousness, but she was confused and somewhat combative, and fought our efforts to help her. About an hour later, an ambulance arrived and paramedics took over and whisked her away. I sat on the beach alone as the adrenaline wore off and the magnitude of the incident flooded over me. I later learned hospital staff said if the surfer had been in the water another minute or so, she would not have survived. I know if I hadn’t taken my NOLS WFR training, I would not have responded as quickly. It allowed me to rapidly assess the situation and recognize I was the one with the skills to respond. I also learned I can’t count on other people to help me out. I need to own the knowledge and skills that I developed through my WFR class and know that my efforts can save a life.

Lisa Kosglow Lisa is the director of Let’s Get Out Summer Camps and is the co-author of Kidding Around the Gorge and Let the Kid Guide.






Adam Kavalsky learned the value of relationship building on his NOLS semester and took it with him to Afghanistan. Courtesy of Adam Kavalsky


ne of the most valuable lessons I took with me from my 2001 NOLS Fall Semester in the Southwest was learning how to lead my peers and build working relationships. Most of those relationship-building lessons included sharing tea with my new friends. These lessons were put to good use when I was an advisor in Afghanistan in 2017. Throughout my tour, I spent most of my days working with my Afghan counterpart, a colonel in the Afghan Army. My job was to help guide him on his journey rebuilding Afghanistan. This was a long process, one that I didn’t start, and one that would continue when I was no longer in Afghanistan. For Afghans, IN THE MIDST OF relationships are vital to getting work accomplished. The colonel and I COMPLICATED built a strong and lasting relationship AND CHALLENG- because of what I’d learned at NOLS. At NOLS, I learned to build ING WORK, IT’S friendships in stressful environments IMPORTANT TO with mutual trust and shared experiences. Over the course of my tour REMEMBER THAT of duty, we did just that—traveling, SOMETIMES IT’S talking, and sharing. During meetings, we would regularly drink chai JUST ABOUT while we shared stories and built THE CHAI. our relationship. In the midst of complicated and challenging work, it’s important to remember that sometimes it’s just about the chai. During one meeting late in my tour, I was in the colonel’s office when he opened up to me about a conversation he’d had with a fellow Afghan officer. “He said I wasn’t supporting him,” the colonel confided in me. “He called me a bad name, said I was discriminating.” I tried my best to console him, sharing experiences I’d observed in the U.S. Army of similar discussions. He was surprised that we’d

have comparable problems in the United States until I reminded him that America is a mix of people from all over the world. I tried to change the subject, but my friend was still angry and not ready to move on. I realized we had to do something fun and create a new shared experience. “You know what I like to do when I am down?” I asked. “I go to the range and blow something up.” He instantly perked up and made arrangements for us to use the shooting range. So much of being an advisor relied on intuition, previous experiences, and independent thinking—all traits that NOLS instills in its students. I leaned on these traits during our meetings. The colonel’s crew met us at the range, excited to shoot with an American. Like a scene at the end of Superbad, we opened up on targets, and my friend’s serious face turned relaxed. No progress was made resolving the complicated issues of the day, but that didn’t matter. After a long hike on the trail, sometimes your team needs a zero day to rebuild. This day in Afghanistan was the equivalent; it was just about the chai.

Adam Kavalsky Adam is currently an officer in the Reserve component of the U.S. Army. He looks forward to teaching his children the joys of backpacking in the future.

Left: Students enjoy chai and the scenery. Cass Colman







im Harris’ NOLS instructors noted in his 1997 Idaho Adventure Course evaluation that “map reading comes easily to Jim.” He considered that skill recently, and how it felt like he “was given the keys to the castle. I could go anywhere on the planet” with it. But at the time he had no idea it would lead him down a path where few maps exist to show the way forward. In November 2014, Jim and a friend were in Chile to undertake a 350-mile kite, ski, and packraft traverse of the Patagonia ice cap. While practicing one afternoon, a strong gust of wind tugged Jim’s four-meter kite and swung him over the top of it. He has no memory of the actual moment. He only remembers waking up in a small Punta Arenas hospital with nine broken vertebrae. In nerve injuries, one of the most destructive aspects is the damage caused when swelling cuts off blood supply, so the sooner that’s relieved the better. Minutes and hours matter. In Jim’s case, it took eight days before he reached definitive care. Eight days in a bed without knowing what his life would be anymore. Without professional prognosis. Without feeling below his chest. “I BET IT WILL BE A It was also eight days without a doctor telling BEAUTIFUL AND FRUS- him he would never walk TRATING PROCESS TO again. He’s grateful he never heard those words because RELEARN HOW TO EDGE he might have taken them heart. Instead, he deterSKIS OR BIKE TIRES to mined to get better. Days THROUGH A TURN.” after the accident, without any evidence to support it, he announced on social media, “I bet it will be a beautiful and frustrating process to relearn how to edge skis or bike tires through a turn.” After two NOLS courses and years as an Outward Bound instructor and adventure photographer, Jim had learned the mental framework that would be his new map to recovery—breaking down a big goal into smaller manageable pieces. And he knew his attitude mattered. “There’s no point worrying what the weather will be on the summit ten days away,” he said. The idea of walking again was a big one. Visualizing a tingle in his leg, or the wiggle of a toe, was something he could focus on. On December 1, 2014, he had surgery to bolt five of his vertebrae together. He then spent six weeks on bed rest without sitting up, six months of neuro-rehab in Craig Hospital in Denver, and the following summer in Truckee, California, doing high-intensity physical therapy with High Fives Foundation. Jim jokes that this is not the expedition he signed up for, but after a year of hard work and focused determination, he was back on skis gliding down a Utah bunny slope, tears running down his face. Just months ago, Jim finished a self-supported mountain bike trip of the 140-mile Kokopelli Trail from Moab, Utah, to Fruita, Colo., to celebrate three years since the accident. Jim pushes back on the idea that his recovery was miraculous. There was a unique set of circumstances that led to his recovery, but he also made up his mind to walk again and proactively sought role models

who had trod that path before. Through their example he made his way back on his feet, and in the years since has guided other spinal trauma patients in recovery. Jim’s instructors also noted in his evaluation that he “often takes walks around camp on his own to enjoy his surroundings.” Seventeen years before he was paralyzed, Jim knew to appreciate every step he took. Now, as he follows his own map to recovery, that same attitude still carries him forward.

Hard work and a good attitude propelled Jim’s recovery. Courtesy of Jim Harris

Dan Kenah Dan is a Baffin Island 2006 grad. He’s most comfortable on skis, wearing a pack, or in front of a piano.

Left: Jim Harris on an adventure prior to his injury. Courtesy of Jim Harris





EXPOSE the backcountry.” They used the Continental Divide and Highline trails as a general guide, but the two men felt confident enough in their orienteering to cut their own path and spend much of their time off trail. “You don’t ever really have a great trip unless you get lost a time or two, and we got lost a time or two,” Billy said. But the cool-headed businessman from South Carolina said he and his son never clashed on directions. They just trusted each other’s judgment and sometimes that meant one yielding to the other. The trip was significant for both of them. They each had their own memories and experiences from their separate NOLS courses, but now each of “IT WAS ALMOST them experienced the Winds anew through AN OUT-OF-BODY one another. One day, a EXPERIENCE. I WAS rest day at Cooks Lakes to recuperate and preWATCHING HIM FISH pare for the final push to the Big Sandy open- AND I FELT LIKE I ing where their journey WAS THAT GUY ON The Websters hike toward Pingora Peak. Courtesy of Billy Webster would end, Will grabbed his fly rod, climbed up THAT ROCK.” n English major in college, Billy Webster knew about Word- on a rock, and cast into sworth’s famous “spots of time,” those rare moments in our the lake. In that moment, as Billy watched his son, experience that retain “a renovating virtue, whence our minds confident and independent, he experienced that rare are invisibly nourished and repaired.” For Billy, that place has been the spot of time that Wordsworth spoke of. Wind River Mountains of central Wyoming. “It was almost an out-of-body experience. I was Ever since his Wind River Wilderness NOLS course in 1981, Billy watching him fish and I felt like I was that guy on that has had a particular connection with the Winds. He would return to rock. To intersect space with another generation where those mountains numerous times over the years, taking his buddies on I had stood before was a profound experience,” he said. fishing or backpacking trips, so he was thrilled when his son, Will, sugAfter leaving the Winds for the first time ever gested they do a trip together. together, it is certain there will be another trip sometime Will, after the same NOLS course in 2014, could see why his father in the future. And as Will heads off to college to study loved the Winds so much. Will would also find in the vast and beautiful business and Romance languages, and Billy heads back Winds a deep connection to wilderness. He describes his NOLS experi- to work, their time in the Winds will always be an indelence as one of the most important experiences of his life, one where he ible “spot of time” in each of their memories that will developed an unshakable attachment to the landscape. continue to shape them both. “You are guaranteed remoteness,” Billy said of the Winds. “They’re so spacious and wildlife has so much habitat, you rarely run into anyone or anything else.” Each with his own NOLS training, the two men knew they were capable of taking a self-guided expedition in the Winds. Armed with twelve or so U.S.G.S. quadrangle topographic maps, nearly one hundred Katelyn Hiett pounds of gear (half of which was food), and ten days’ worth of time, father and son tied their bootlaces and started walking. Katelyn is from Tennessee and has lived in South Sudan, South Africa, and Jerusalem. She enjoys philosophy, history, and being Starting out at Green River Lakes trailhead and hiking south down outside with her dog, Kiwi. the spine of the continent, they traversed some of the same territory each had walked before on their respective NOLS courses. “We hung a bit loose as to our route,” said Billy, “due to significant snowpack in


Left: Billy and Will Webster in the Cirque of the Towers. Courtesy of Will Webster




By Ben Lester Custom Education Assistant Director




he air had cooled as the sun set, but the wooden boards of the floating dock were still radiating heat from the long July day. Earlier, we’d all taken the plunge into the icy water, shrieking with delight as five days of trail dust floated off our bodies. Then we’d baked ourselves dry, my co-instructor and I writing evaluations while our students—nine young women from the Boston area—reveled in the knowledge that they’d arrived at the end of the trail. Tomorrow they had but to take a boat ride to complete their trek. Now, bundled against the clear mountain night with the warm dock under us, we gazed upward. The moon had not yet risen, and we watched Mars and Jupiter march across the sky in front of the faint but definite scythe of the Milky Way. Our students, part of a program called C5 Youth Program that prepares high-achieving youth from under-resourced communities for college, had been away from the light-saturated skies of Boston for a week now, but all our camps had been in the tree-veiled canyons of North Cascades National Park. The open sky was new, it was breathtaking, and it demanded attention. As we gazed, we talked. Now, two years later, some of my memories are vague: I remember my co-instructor, Viviana Callahan, reading the classic end-of-course “Briefing for Re-entry into a More-Harsh Environment”; the girls going around and sharing mental snapshots from the trip, with the usual tangents and hilarity of teenagers in high spirits. One thing, though, stands out in my memory as clear as anything. Earlier in the day, as I’d checked in with each student and exchanged evaluations, I’d asked each one what they thought of the experience. The course had been tough for all of them, and I’d asked how they were doing now. Had they learned anything useful? What were they taking away? All had learned something, but one in particular, who had spent the first night demanding to SHE SAW THAT, TAKING go home, smiled and talked the skills she was IT ONE STEP AT A TIME, about taking away that would SHE HAD ACCOMPLISHED be useful in college. She hadn’t thought she could SOMETHING MASSIVE. AND do it, she said, and even she didn’t like backFELT PROUD OF HERSELF. now packing or camping. But she saw that, taking it one step at a time, she had accomplished something massive. And felt proud of herself. I’d asked her if she would repeat that during the evening meeting, and now, sitting on that dock, I listened as one by one the other eight students built on her words. They talked about the importance of learning to persevere in difficult things, of learning to work with people who would not ordinarily be their friends, of succeeding outside their comfort zone, and of pushing themselves. They talked about the changes they’d seen in themselves and each other over the past few days, and laughed at their tears of the first day. As with all field courses, the days had been long, and the process of becoming leaders sometimes messy. But as I crawled into my sleeping bag on that last night of the course, I remember reflecting on how far these students had come in just a few days. And I remember the feeling

of accomplishment we all shared as we drove our happy— if still somewhat smelly—crew back along Highway 20 toward NOLS Pacific Northwest. What is now the C5 Youth Program began as an experiment in 1999, the brainchild of John Alm, who at that time was the CEO of Coca-Cola. Alm had a vision to provide opportunities to disadvantaged youth from Los Angeles, and the means to make it happen. He bought some land outside Hyattsville, Wyoming, built a camp on it, and brought 36 students from Los Angeles to Wyoming for a five-week summer experience. The program was a success, and his company embraced the idea. The next summer the program was bigger, and now called Camp Coca Cola. Over the next few years the program grew to include sites in Boston, Atlanta, and Dallas/Fort Worth/Austin. In 2006, C5 assumed its current name, and today, each of the four sites (Texas, Georgia, Los Angeles, and New England) has its own board, with a national board helping set direction for the entire organization. C5 takes its name from the five Cs they encourage students to be: Character-Driven, Community-Focused, Challenge-Ready, College-Bound, and Committed to a Better Future. The program gets at these goals over a five-year progression, starting in eighth grade. C5’s curriculum is called Leadership U, and each year centers around a different idea. As eighth grad-

Students see changes in themselves by a course’s end. Courtesy of C5

Left: C5 students begin the five-year program in eighth grade. Courtesy of C5



Being challenge-ready is a C5 goal. Courtesy of C5

ers, students focus on leading themselves, exploring ideas like body language, speaking up, and embracing diversity. In ninth grade, the focus expands to leading others—learning to collaborate and make decisions, leading with an ethical mindset, and resolving conflicts. In this year, students also prepare for their big trek in the third year. Our students in the Cascades were rising sophomores in their third year with the program, and their focus was “expanding their horizons.” In their fourth year, as juniors, students focus on “exploring their future,” and the summer experience centers around college tours. In their fifth and final year, as 12th graders, they focus on engaging their community. In addition to individual projects, students at each site work collaboratively to create a summit meeting that tackles a social issue of importance to their community. Throughout the program, summer is still the core of the experience, but students also have required “pathway” events throughout the school year. In addition, they must maintain a certain GPA, adhere to behavior standards, and perform community service each year. “Students can only apply for the program during seventh grade ... and selection is pretty competitive,” said Fulori Kirkiti, senior director of program and operations at C5 Texas. First, students are nominated by their schools or other youth organizations. Usually, she says, about 250 students are nominated at each site.


Then each can choose to apply, a process that includes essays, interviews, and letters of reference. Out of the applicant pool, each site aims to select between 70 and 120 students each year. The program boasts strong outcomes. Sites keep 90 to 95 percent of their students from one year to the next, and C5 Georgia, for example, reports 98 percent of students who complete their program go on to college. Since the program’s inception, C5 has used a backpacking trip during the third year as a tool to help students expand their horizons. For nearly all of these youth, growing up in underserved communities, the vastness of the wilderness is totally foreign. “The goal is to help get our students out of their comfort zone, show them what else is out there in the world, and work collaboratively as a team to achieve goals,” said Joanne Fay, chief operations officer at C5 New England. For many years, the organization ran the experience themselves, sending students to the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming. But in 2014, for a variety of reasons including staff turnover, C5 asked NOLS Custom Education to run the expeditions instead. “There was immediate excitement,” remembered Rachael Price, then an account manager in NOLS Custom Educa“THE GOAL IS TO HELP tion and now associate director of operations GET OUR STUDENTS for NOLS. “When we OUT OF THEIR COMFORT looked at C5’s goals and structure, we saw an ZONE, SHOW THEM WHAT organization that was already achieving high ELSE IS OUT THERE IN college-admission rates. THE WORLD, AND WORK But C5 understood that college entry, while sigCOLLABORATIVELY AS A nificant, is sort of the easy part of what’s needed,” TEAM TO ACHIEVE GOALS.” she said. “Building confidence and the habit of utilizing your team to achieve goals in unfamiliar, often overwhelming situations, is what students need to succeed in college and graduate.” “I think C5 participants gain so much from their NOLS expedition, their metaphorical college, where situations emerge that are outside familiar cultural framework, demand hard work, and challenge them in unanticipated ways,” she said. In the moment, it can be uncomfortable, says Liz Tuohy, NOLS education director, because “like so many NOLS students at the beginning of their course, C5 students are operating right at their learning edge. They are at the edge of their capabilities, and they are not sure if they can succeed. That’s an uncomfortable place to be, but it also creates an opportunity for really valuable, impactful learning.” From that first summer in 2015, C5 and NOLS have had a strong partnership, running between 20 and 25 seven-day expeditions each summer across NOLS locations in the Teton Valley, Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountains, and Northeast. The scope of the new relationship

EXPOSE pushed the campuses to develop new systems, and as with other NOLS Custom Education clients, asked faculty to learn to work with students from a variety of backgrounds. “It’s an opportunity for us to learn a different style,” said Jorge Moreno, who now manages NOLS’ relationship with C5. “The packs are the same, the food is the same, the routes are the same. But the students are different in a variety of ways.” The relationship is good for the school in other ways, as well, such as attracting employees excited to work with these communities. According to Jorge, “I jumped at this opportunity because NOLS as a school has such a reputation, and so much history, and NOLS instructors are so smart and have so much knowledge—I wanted the opportunity to work inside the organization that could provide that community these incredible experiences.” One of the things that brought C5 to NOLS in the first place, and has kept the relationship strong, has been financial support from NOLS donors. Additionally, the organization raises money to support its mission from a variety of donors and events such as charity golf tournaments. In the future, Joanne hopes to increase fundraising to lengthen the C5/NOLS experience from 7 to 10 days or even longer. And it is remarkable what students can learn in a week. For Mac Whittington, operations coordinator for C5 in NOLS Custom Education, “The most rewarding part of my job is getting to talk to students when they come out of the field. The vibe I get is: ‘That was tough. I’m beat down. And I can do anything now.’” Even better than that, though, is “these letters I get six months or a year later from kids who struggled on their NOLS course—who didn’t ‘get it’ at the time. They write about what they now understand they learned, and how important it was. They’re appreciative of how the experience helped them grow as indi-

viduals and as leaders in the community … [C5’s] leadership curriculum really complements their NOLS experience, which is one of the reasons we love working with them so much.” Two years later, looking back on that course in the Cascades makes me smile. The feeling of community and achievement we all shared as we sat on those warm boards is a touchstone for me—a reminder of the power of a NOLS experience, and a testament to what our students had achieved in the face of adversity and uncertainty. Those students will be seniors this fall, and in a year, they’ll leave high school and set off on the grand adventures that lie beyond. I hope they carry the memory of that day with them, as a reminder of all they have the power to achieve in college—and in life.

Ben Lester Ben is a recovering journalist and was the editor of A Worthy Expedition: The History of NOLS. As the assistant director for NOLS Custom Education, he balances office time with teaching field courses and writing about himself in the third person.

A C5 group works together to plan their route. Courtesy of C5




we’re late, or hurrying, or frustrated because tasks are not up to standard, and the common reaction is feeling pressured by time. To control and solve this, it’s helpful to separate the gaps in structure or leadership: • Structure | Having clear lists of what needs to happen, knowing how long things take, and setting time goals. • Leadership | Thoroughness, commitment to a standard, commitment to a time, and embracing that things happen at certain speeds.

A watch, and time-management skills, are integral to a NOLS course. Bradley Ziffer


f you’ve been on a NOLS course you’ll probably agree that a watch—yours or a coursemate’s—was an integral part of your course. Maybe you used it to keep track of a turnaround time on a peak ascent, when to meet to check the weather and decide if conditions were good enough to launch a sea-kayak move, or a time to meet for a group activity in camp. In all cases, time awareness was important because we use time as a tool to help plan and achieve goals. On our courses, we live and travel in groups and unless we synchronize our efforts, there will be a lot of waiting around, and a lot will not get done. While some students resent the human invention of time management in the wilderness, others really appreciate knowing exactly when they should be somewhere and doing something. This is true in the frontcountry too, and developing a relationship with time is


a useful technical skill, no matter where you fall on the spectrum of appreciating a life ruled by time. Our backcountry skills can inform our frontcountry habits: going back to basics and using simple structures can help people develop leadership skills for day-to-day life. For example, on a course, I consider what time I need to set my alarm to be fully packed and ready to start hiking at 7 a.m. to do a technical traverse of an exposed ridge that we need to be off by 1 p.m. It would be unrealistic for students to know this at the beginning of the course when they don’t understand what needs to happen and how long things take, but pretty easy at the end, after some practice. On ideal days, people are on time, things happen in a good rhythm, and quality standards are maintained. Sometimes

Breaking things apart in simple ways in the frontcountry tends to be harder because there are more pressures influencing our days. But the same approach—looking at structural and leadership pieces to address things we want to change—also works. I am one of those people who doesn’t like watches but likes being on time. Learning to be ready and on time on courses taught me how to problemsolve many other areas of my work and personal life.

Fabio Oliveira Fabio is from Brazil and has happily worked hiking, sea kayaking, climbing, mountaineering, canoeing, whitewater, and Leave No Trace courses for NOLS since 1998.


RESEARCH | THE VALUE OF WILDERNESS MEDICINE RESEARCH By Tod Schimelpfenig Wilderness Medicine Curriculum Director


t a NOLS Wilderness Medicine staff meeting, Stuart Harris, MD, NOLS instructor and trustee, director of the Harvard Wilderness Medicine Fellowship, and a high-altitude researcher, talked about how altitude illness allows us to focus on hypoxia in generally healthy subjects under stress and helps us gain insights that would be obscured in patients with chronic lung and heart disease. This brought to mind thoughts on the value of wilderness medicine research in the face of the massive health problems of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, malaria, and diarrhea in developing countires. Does this work benefit only a small group of healthy and wealthy people able to recreate in the wild, or does it have broader implications? Researching venoms seems silly, especially in North America where snake envenomations are really at the bottom of the lists of things that kill us. Yet researchers studying the incredibly toxic venom of the stonefish have learned of proteins in the venom which open up pores in the cell walls, allowing the toxic venom component to enter the cell. This has sparked investigation into whether we can piggyback therapeutic medicines onto these proteins, and, using chemotherapy as an example, achieve the desired effect with less medicine and fewer side effects. A new diabetes drug is a synthetic version of a peptide found in the saliva

of the Gila monster, a poisonous lizard that lives in the Southwest and Mexico. Hypothermia is applied therapeutically to survivors of cardiac arrest, and cooling systems for athletes may prove useful treatments in urban heat waves. Wilderness medicine research also highlights conservation. The loss of forests and coral reefs reduces a source of medications. Compounds from the oceans are now being tested as treatments for chronic pain, asthma, and various malignancies, including breast cancer. Medicinal botany has produced more than 100 important drugs, including aspirin (willow bark), digitalis (from foxglove), morphine (opium poppies) and the anti-malarial drug quinine (the bark of the cinchona tree). There are many other examples— from work on pulmonary artery hypertension, a component of high altitude

pulmonary edema, to reperfusion injuries, a component of frostbite—of the link between the application of science from wilderness research to non-wilderness health care. If you’re interested in more on this subject, look into Dr. Charles Houston’s Going Higher. It has an excellent and readable chapter on what we can learn about important healthcare issues in the non-wilderness world by studying hypoxia and altitude illness.

Tod Schimelpfenig Tod’s career at NOLS began in 1973. He is currently the curriculum director for NOLS Wilderness Medicine.

NOLS receives regular inquiries from researchers interested in wilderness medicine. This has produced publications on soft tissue injuries and skin infections, prolonged exposure dermatitis (aka sun bumps), the impact of freeze-thaw cycles on epinephrine, the relationship between injuries and pack weight, and the prevalence of high altitude illness, asthma, and snow blindness on NOLS courses. There have also been four often-referenced papers from the NOLS database on incidence of injuries and illnesses on wilderness expeditions. You can find these publications at:



HOW TO | CAMP WITH KIDS By Marcio Paes Barreto Business Operation Manager


ast winter, my 4-year-old asked me, “When are we going camping again?” My immediate thought was selfcongratulatory: You did it—the child wants to spend more time outdoors! Good work! My next thoughts included images of two kids digging a snow shelter, damp sleeping bags, and cold little fingers and toes. It’s easy to fall back on our NOLS field experience when planning our next outing. Many times, though, this can be a limiting factor and too daunting when taking your kids with you. It doesn’t need to be that way. Instead of planning a family winter camping trip that’s a version of an 1800s polar expedition, how about something easier for both children and adults? Will something like skiing to a yurt and spending one night outside do the trick? Of course, we’ll do it. My wife and I both spent time in the outdoors with NOLS as students and instructors. When kids joined our mari-

tal expedition, we were able to rely on our NOLS background to provide great outdoor experiences for our family. It only required some flexibility and creativity. Here is what we learned over the years:

1 | MAKE IT EASY Car camping, RV-camping, and nights in yurts are not going to get you removed from the NOLS alumni status and destroy your outdoor-leader reputation. Think base camp! Plan for long day hikes. Then enjoy the benefits of having something bigger than a backpack for your group needs when you return to camp.

If you like the idea of packing animals, you’ll love floating with kids. Remember, we are not talking about your NOLS river experience. Slow-moving rivers and lakes equal fun when traveling and camping with kids. Lastly, if you are having fun, they will learn how to have fun outdoors. Summer is here. Get outside and share a version of your favorite adventure with a child.

2 | GET SOME HELP Pack animals will make a multi-day trip look like a day hike. I am totally biased towards llamas, but horses and goats can do the trick, too. A short online search will give you an idea of what outfitters in your area are offering. Did I tell you that I have some bias towards llamas?

Keep it easy when you’re camping with kids: consider a base camp and day hikes. Marcio Paes Barreto



Marcio Paes Barreto Marcio started working at NOLS as an instructor in 2005. He was a student on a sea kayaking course in NOLS Patagonia in 2003. His passion for outdoor activities started at a young age in Brazil and now he lives with his family in Lander, Wyoming.


HOW TO | FLY FISH By George Hunker Instructor

2. Attend a clinic. Your local fly shop or angling club may be offering free clinics. 3. Just get out and do it! 4. If a friend takes you out, make sure that they don’t give you five minutes of instruction, then abandon you for the rest of the day. 5. Buy your own gear so that you can go out at any time. 6. You don’t have to go for a day; an hour can be long enough if that is the time you have.

George Hunker teaching people how to fly fish. Kirk Rasmussen


ly fishing has given me immense pleasure for the 60-plus years I have done it. I still do it whenever I have a chance (often). I love teaching it to others, tying flies, experimenting, and just being in those special places as the water flows by. Take time to slow down and think like a fish.

THE ABC’S OF FLY FISHING 1. Keep it simple. All you need is a rod, reel, line, leader, and a few flies. 2. Fish like a great blue heron. Move slowly and observe keenly. 3. Keep the fly on the water. You can’t catch fish if your fly isn’t on the water. 4. You can’t catch a fish if there isn’t one there. Look for fish in the water (polarized glasses are useful) and look for their rises on the surface. Much easier to catch one if it is there. 5. Don’t be afraid to wade. (Wading can get you closer to the fish, in a better

position from which to fish, and keep obstacles that could catch your fly out of the way.) 6. Don’t cast a long way. The shorter you cast, the easier it is to control the line on the water.

WHY FLY FISH 1. The strike of the fish and the pull on the line are irresistible. 2. It slows you down to take stock of the world around you. 3. It is a pursuit you can do until you are very old.

7. Abandon ship if you get frustrated. Enjoy the scenery and being away from the cell phone. 8. Practice a few simple knots at home (the clinch knot and improved surgeon’s knot are all you really need). 9. Practice your cast on your lawn before you get to the water. NOLS Rocky Mountain is using some Tenkara outfits that are even simpler than regular fly fishing. This technique has been taking off and is being promoted by Yvon Chouinard at Patagonia (look for instruction there) or at You use a line attached to the tip of the rod. Line length is fixed and relatively short. There is not a lot to go wrong. It is very intuitive even for beginners.

4. There is a lifetime of learning. 5. Fooling the fish is really fun. 6. Casting a fly rod is a beautiful thing.

HOW TO LEARN 1. Lots of excellent instructional advice on YouTube.

George Hunker George is a former NOLS instructor, professional fishing guide, and owner of Sweetwater Fishing Expeditions in Lander. He is happiest when fly fishing, skiing, or hugging a grandbaby.





By Ben Huber Instructor

By James Mixon NOLS Grad

It’s a normal Saturday morning at the Mega SuperMart until 7-year-old Billy—fed up with his mom—decides to run away. The manager locks down the superstore but won’t call the police for fear they’ll discover he’s been embezzling. NOLS instructor Ben Huber’s first novel, Code Billy, is a humorous tale of nine characters stuck inside the superstore—the pilfering manager, his timid assistant manager, an anthropomorphic squirrel, a small-time YouTube preacher, the titular Billy, and his van-driving soccer mom, among others. In the space of just a few hours, there’s a shoot-out, the beginning of a love affair, several sermons, and the highjacking of a delivery truck carrying salted nuts. Ben’s created memorable and well-defined—if broadly drawn—characters and adds plenty of rich detail and dialogue. The voice of each chapter of Code Billy rotates from character to character, with key pieces of action repeated from different perspectives. While it’s a clever device—and a reminder that we all see things differently—it’s one that occasionally slows down the action, particularly early in the story. The pace picks up though, and by the end, it’s clipping right along, with all the loose ends tied up. While the action never moves outside the four walls of the store, this could be a good book to bring along on your next adventure for its entertainment value and a few laugh-out-loud moments. At 320 pages, it’s not the book to pack if your trip is an ultralight one, but it may be just right for car camping. Available through Amazon. Review by Anne McGowan

A NOLS Semester in Patagonia alumnus, James set pencil to paper throughout his course as a way to record his experiences. This is one of his poems: The great lesson I learned under infinite skies: Nothing is waterproof; everything dries. A cardinal corridor ‘twixt contrasting strokes, Delicate moss beneath billowing smoke, Those clouds imperturbable bated my breath And watched with me placidly life unto death. Where forests of legend grow out of their fathers And travelers lost shall find no other wanderers. My footprints shall disappear soon after I; They soak in the smallness and sink down inside. Along with our shoes and our egos and more, Arrogance scattered from summit to shore. But there are horizons I haven’t yet found. The simplest changes with only a sound, And strange it will seem if when searching I die Whilst the view just before me will shift with a sigh. Learn from the landscape of fire and ice. Experience, fear, of indefinite size. Watch for the sun breaking over your shoulder— A lengthening stride does not mean that you’re older. The corridor widens to unfettered eyes: Nothing is waterproof; everything dries.

Who Is This? Do you recognize this person? The first ten people to contact us with the correct answer will receive a prize in the mail. The answer to the Spring 2018 issue’s “Who Is This?” is Rusty Wells, renowned fly fisher and instructor from 1977 to 1988. Rumor has it Rusty was born in the mountains and raised in a lion’s den.



GEAR REVIEW | CHACOS By Travis Welch Alumni Programs Coordinator

WHY I LIKE THIS SANDAL • The footbed provides support behind the arch (not on!) and helps prevent pronating. This creates an incredibly stable platform. • Straps are adjustable, but stay in place. They have just enough friction to make them stay but not so much that they are hard to shift. • Sole is durable, burly rubber that feels great to stand on all day but has gotten lighter-weight over the years. This is a great contrast to our bodies that tend to get a little less durable and heavier over the years. • No Velcro. Velcro wears out faster than I wish and while it is convenient, it simply doesn’t survive the test of time. • Durability. As a NOLS instructor, I deeply value gear that is simple and designed to last. I can’t return something when it breaks on day 4 of a 30-day trip. Warranties are great; good products are better. • I had at least 10 people compliment me on the new straps, which let me talk about the Wild and Scenic River Act. Nice job, Chaco. Special edition Chaco Z2s modeled after NRS river straps. Robin Larson


pening the box to see a new pair of Special Edition Chaco Z2s with straps modeled after NRS river straps, I was smacked in the face with nostalgia. My brain immediately conjured a memory of me standing on the roof of my old car wearing Chacos and using NRS straps to attach kayak number 6 to the roof rack. I then flashed to a trip to Patagonia almost 20 years ago where Chacos were my primary footwear for several weeks. Mud, rain, wind, hiking, boating—they were my sole the whole time. The NRS straps on the sandal look awesome! Two iconic companies paired up to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, and they nailed it. The Chaco sandal is an iconic piece of gear that many of us have worn for decades. It is easy to forget about the details and evolution of this sandal, so I was excited to take a real critical look at it all over again. I strapped the sandals on and hit the town, the trail, the classroom, and the river to put this newest sandal through an average spring week for me.

IN A PERFECT WORLD • I wish someone could keep rocks and sticks from accumulating between my foot and the sandal. • Z2s are still heavier than I wish they were. My running shoes weigh less. I realize it is a trade between durability and weight, though, and I don’t have to replace my Chacos every six months.

Travis Welch Travis, NOLS’ Alumni Programs Coordinator, hails from Austin, Texas. His spirit animal is a sea otter, which makes sense considering the weeks he has accrued on the water for NOLS.





hese can be eaten cold as trail food, added to casseroles, or served hot with noodles and gravy, or spaghetti. Easy to dress up, these “Neatballs”

can be the culinary highlight on a long trip! Find this and more than 100 other recipes in the latest edition of the NOLS Cookery, available at

Ingredients (Makes 24)


• ¾ cup cornmeal

Mix cornmeal, whole wheat flour, white flour, dry milk powder, garlic, salt, soy sauce, and water. Add rehydrated onions, mixing well to make a stiff dough. Form 22 to 25 balls, each about the size of a walnut. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a fry pan. Add neatballs and shake around until they are coated with oil. Cover and cook 20 to 30 minutes, shaking occasionally to brown on all sides. Eat warm or cold.

• ½ cup whole wheat flour • ¼ cup white flour • 6 Tbsp. dry milk powder • ½ tsp. garlic • ½ tsp. salt

Variations Add gourmet flair with pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, or dried shiitake or morel mushrooms.

• 1 tsp. soy sauce • ½ to ¾ cup water • 1 Tbsp. dried onion, rehydrated • 1 Tbsp. oil

Vegetarian Neatballs are delicious hot or cold. Luke Hyce

Wilderness Medicine Quiz ANSWER | a) Athletic injuries, sprains, and strains.


“We had gone from being lost in the woods and very low morale, to the most fun day we had had thus far, all because I was able to swallow my pride and ask for help. The others had found the trail, but we had found the adventure.”

Connor McCallie

–Nicholas Wilson NOLS Fall Semester in Baja 2017 grad





Hadley Warner

Be a force for positive change.

NOLS SAYBROOK MASTER’S IN LEADERSHIP Apply now for new MA in Leadership starting Fall 2018.




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