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exPedition denali: inSPiring diverSity in the outdoorS FeATURe, PAGe 10

technology in the Field FeATURe, PAGe 12

For alumni of the national outdoor leadership School Spring 2013 • vol. 28 No. 2

PAGe 16


From the Director


Summer dreaming As I look out my window today, grey clouds gliding across a cold blue sky, I’m taken to a place much warmer: summer. Rather than reflecting on exciting summers passed, however, my thoughts slip forward like the clouds, and I find myself on the edge of my seat in anticipation of summer 2013. I imagine the grins of our students on summer courses across the world, from the Pacific Northwest to the Teton Valley to East Africa. There are so many stories our alumni carry with them after their NOLS course, ranging from the young, recent graduate (see page 29) to the alumna of a decades-ago course (page 31). These are the stories that fuel our passion from season to season, from year to year. These stories are also a point of inspiration for youth who have not yet discovered the great outdoors. This summer, NOLS is embarking on a historic journey to create and disseminate stories that will reach youth underrepresented in our invaluable, wild places. NOLS’ Expedition Denali, the first African American team to make a summit bid on North America’s tallest peak, launches this summer, inspiring a generation of people of color. After the June expedition, the team will tour the nation, speaking to African American youth, inspiring them to discover, explore, and protect natural spaces. I encourage you to read more about Expedition Denali and our supporters on page 10. This reminds me of another partnership I’m delighted to see culminate this summer. Shelli Johnson, a 2011 NOLS graduate and life coach, and NOLS Professional Training are collaborating to provide an Epic Women Adventure in the Wind River Mountains this August. The ways our graduates find to use their NOLS experience and touch others’ lives continually inspires me. This is going to be an exciting summer, for our students, our graduates, and our future. As each season approaches and passes, we remain dedicated to improving the backcountry and educational experience we offer our students. Part of that involves exploring new techniques and, yes, technology. As more and more outdoorspeople are trading their paperback books for eReaders, we, too, are exploring the feasibility, applicability, and philosophical implications of implementing these tools on our expedition courses. Through a pilot project that is currently underway, invigorating dialogue and exciting data have filled NOLS Headquarters and NOLS Rocky Mountain. You can find an update on the first portion of the pilot project on page 12. As always, we invite your feedback and input on this publication. With my cold fingers wrapped around my coffee mug, perhaps the most fun subject matter in this issue of The Leader is the treasure trove of backcountry coffee tips. We invite you to weigh in (add to the comments we collected for page 4) in video form for a chance to win a brand-new Aero Press. Learn more in the Recipe Box on page 24 and on NOLS.TV. Enjoy the spring and start planning those summer adventures!



John Gans, NOLS Executive Director


Casey Dean Editor Sam Baker Designer Alisha Bube Designer Rich Brame Alumni Relations Director John Gans NOLS Executive Director March 2013 • Volume 28 • No.2 Published three times a year in March, July, and November.

Postmaster: Send address changes to National Outdoor Leadership School 284 Lincoln St. Lander, WY 82520 The Leader is a magazine for alumni of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), a nonprofit school focusing on wilderness skills, leadership, and environmental ethics. It is mailed to approximately 60,000 NOLS alumni and an additional 10,000 prospective students. NOLS graduates living in the U.S. receive a free subscription to The Leader for life. The Leader accepts paid advertising and welcomes article submissions and comments. Please address all correspondence to or call (307) 332-8800. Alumni can direct address changes to or (800) 332-4280. For the most up-to-date information on NOLS, visit or e-mail The Leader is printed with soy-based inks in Portland, Ore., on paper using 30 percent post-consumer-recycled content. A paperless version of The Leader is available online at

What are these boxes? They’re QR codes—two-dimensional barcodes that can be read by smartphone cameras. Search “QR code” to find a free app for your phone, then use it to read images of the QR codes in The Leader. Scan the code above to see the latest episode of The NOLS Cooking Show.




5 Field Notes: Lessons in life and kayaking

10 Inspiring Diversity in the OUtdoors

6 Issue Room: Lease buyout spares Hoback Basin

7 Wild Side of Medicine: Not quite the same as class 8 Alumni Profile: Life coach teams up with NOLS Pro 9 Alumni Profile: Over two decades with NOLS Patagonia

To inspire youth of color—particularly African American youth— to get outside, get active, and become stewards of our wild places, NOLS will lead the first African American expedition to attempt Denali’s summit.

20 Alumni Trips: Return to the backcountry. Bring a friend.

Who Is This?

21 Reviews: Food, water, Wilderness

12 Technology in the Field

Recognize this person? The first 10 people to contact us with the correct answer will receive a free NOLS t-shirt. Call NOLS Alumni at (800) 332-4280 or email The answer to last issue’s “Who Is This” is John Whisnant, 1970s instructor and current NOLS Advisory Council member.

22 Gear Room: GZ Helios by Orvis

24 Recipe Box: Coffee, your way

As part of a pilot program, NOLS sent eight Nook eReaders into the field with semester courses.

25 Jabberwocky: Catch up on your coursemates’ lives 26 Sustainability: Team 2020

14 Fostering a community

27 Branch Notes: By the numbers

27 Giving: Small gifts make a difference 29 Belay off: A young grad’s journal 31 Traverses: Trout, it’s what’s for dinner

NOLS began working with Fort Washakie High School in 2007 to further strengthen and support NOLS’ connection to the reservation and to provide a unique experiential education component for students.

16 Cover: Moving as One

Two instructors ride one tandem bike from Bozeman, Mont. to Silverthorne, Colo.


Hilary Hays Field Notes, pg 5

Brian Fabel Feature, pg 14

Katie & Sam Newbury Cover article, pg 16

LJ Dawson Belay Off, pg 29

Hays has been a NOLS field instructor since 2007. She instructs river courses as well as hiking and horse packing courses. In her spare time, Hays hangs out in the Tetons backcountry skiing and kayaking.

Fabel works as the NOLS Rocky Mountain special projects manager and a field instructor. For the five years prior, he helped create new marketing materials and clients as marketing coordinator for NOLS Professional Training. In his spare time, Fabel is director of the International Climbers’ Festival.

Katie Newbury lives in Durango, Colo. with her husband and teammate Sam Newbury. They discovered their love for tandem touring on a six-week tour in Patagonia. When these NOLS instructors aren’t in the mountains adventuring or working, they can be found coloring and drinking giant mugs of tea.

After her NOLS adventure course in the Big Horn Mountains, Dawson started her sophomore year of high school. She lives in Colorado Springs, Colo. with three Border Collies. She regularly camps and hikes to get her nature fix.

Spring 2013


Feedback TH E


For ALumni oF THE nATionAL ouTdoor LEAdErsH EAdErsHiip p scHooL

spring 2012

VoL. 27 no. o. 2

What do you think? Join the conversation. Send your feedback or conversation starters to, post it to Facebook, tweet it (@NOLSedu), or give us at call at 800-710-6657 ext 2254. Find back issues online at

winded in the winds: A ski trAverse AAverse of the cl clAssic Assic Nols course with liz hArdwick pAge 16

A new w wAy wA A Ay y to explore: nols enters the world of p pA pAckrA ckrAfti fting ng feAture, Ature, A pAge pAge 11

redefine ‘possible’ belAy AAy off, pAge pAge 30

how do you brew? The latest NOLS Cooking show runs through a variety of approaches to coffee in the backcountry. We not only encourage you to send a video response to our overview (learn more about what you could win on page 24), but we also gathered alumni thoughts to prime you for the topic.

Facebook Feed We asked, “What’s your favorite way to make coffee in the backcountry?” you responded: nathan coney: When doing cowboy coffee, I've found that adding a little chocolate pudding to the grounds make it so you can actually eat them. This works till around 50% or more of the mixture is grounds, where it becomes unpalatable. baSiel bogaertS Mini Italian espresso maker + MSR pocket rocket. It makes for lightweight perfection every time. chriS colney Never have I been in a place that lugging

my French press hasn't been worth the effort. Katy blanton cowboy coffee—no other way! When

in Rome, do as the romans do. When in the middle of nowhere, get back to your ancestral roots and get tribal. Nobody cares if you have coffee grounds in your teeth when you’re in the backcountry...

the sciences. Anyway, whatever way you like your coffee don't use boiling water, let it cool down some or you'll burn the flavor right out of it. Can't help you instant drinkers though.

Jc canField I brew with an Aeropress. I use a Hario Skerton grinder (yes, I bring whole beans). Might even bring a thermometer to make sure not to burn it!

brian drourr Well that is somewhat of a loaded question. Are we winter camping? If so, then let grounds sit for a few minutes in a pot of boiling water just off the stove, then a splash or two of cold water to help the grounds sink, then add to a mug with hot coco power and a chunk of cheese. If backpacking, I generally use my French press mug (a tea steeper works well as well in a pinch). If I am on the river, well then all bets are off and I have a stovetop percolator to make a cup that rivals my home drip machine. Got to have a good cup of Jo for the morning groover visit. Again like you taught us on my course, there is a right tool for every job you just need to know how to use it and where to find it. I have even used a clean bandana as a filter to make a great cup of coffee with in a pinch!

tim gibbS The aeropress is the easiest method

chriS Quinn I just chew the beans like some kind of caffeine-seeking beaver.

I've ever used! It lacks the metal that results in bitter brews and makes a pitch perfect shot of espresso anywhere. Paired with a jetboil you can make lattes for ten at Phantom Ranch or Americanos off your tailgate in Terlingua Ghost Town. Want to try the AeroPress for yourself? Turn to page 24 for your chance to win one! JacQue aleSSi What’s brewing? Chocolate

covered beans are the best! Paul ericKSon At home I make little packets

of ground coffee with unbleached paper filters. I secure the packets with either staples or rubber bands. On the trail I just boil coffee packets in my pot.

douglaS loWry OK, first the disclaimer, I'm a sea kay-



aker and live the life of luxury while in the backcountry. Whatever it is, we will find room for it. I use a stainless steel press and now take this wonderful gift from a fellow NOLS alumnus: coffee drinkers can go on pretending that coffee grounds in your teeth are some sort of badge of authenticity, but I'm not afraid to celebrate advancements in culture and


John morriSon A f(r)iend of mine once told me that

she has dipped grounds. Coffee grounds, tucked under the lip. I prefer grounds in a tea bag...but, Should I ever forget, I'll be dipping like my fiend. Uh, friend. dreW claire Chocolate covered espresso beans in

Gorp/trail mix.

JacK KaSter Insta coffee mixed in with my oatmeal. Quick, easy, and a good start to the morning.

Field Notes

Lessons in Life and Kayaking ‘Our trip did not play out as planned ...’ By Hilary Hays, NOLS Instructor

“I love the river because it’s so dynamic; it’s always moving, always changing. You cannot control the river, and you certainly can’t stop it. You just have to go with the flow and take things as they come.” I say something like this all summer to countless NOLS students on the river. Last winter I took a trip to Ecuador with my husband, Dan. We had planned a winter of kayaking in the tropical waters of the equator, and we were excited to get on as many as 15 rivers. It was all going to be so perfect. We arrived in Ecuador wide-eyed and brimming with excitement. We settled in a town in the Andes at the heart of the Quijos river valley. Our first section was the Lower Quijos, 18 miles long, with mostly class III and one class IV rapid. It was a spectacular warm-up run; with waterfalls and birdlife all around, it was the perfect introduction to Ecuadorian rivers. We ended that first day on top of the world and made plans with new friends to run the Consanga the next day. The Consanga is a class IV run with continuous boulder gardens and technical moves. As we floated out into the current, I felt excited, nervous, and relaxed all at once. We quickly realized the level was a little higher than we had expected. Everyone was running good lines though, and we all set safety for each other. Just as we got into the thick of it, a wave caught my edge, and I was over. I hit my head on one rock and then another. I was soon out of my boat and swimming right in front of a boulder sieve. I made it to shore, and my paddling partners rescued my boat. However, by the time I had climbed up the soggy jungle wall, crossed a swinging bridge, and come back down the other side to get my boat, I was shaken up and tired. I reminded myself to relax and keep with it. I told myself all the things I tell students: “Stay calm. Breathe. You can do

Hilary Hays and her paddling partners rest on the shore in Ecuador. Hilary Hays

it.” I blocked all negative thoughts, and we were off again. About four rapids later, I was exhausted. I dropped into a boulder garden and was instantly stopped by a hole. I got surfed for a while and finally flipped and swam out. I was so tired I could barely swim. My teammates pulled me ashore with a throw bag and gathered my boat. I sat on the shore, sapped of energy. I kept a positive attitude, but I had to consider risk management. If I swam again, I could be in severe danger. I could barely move my arms, and I would put the group at risk if I continued. I decided to hike out. We all agreed it was the best decision, but as the rest of the team paddled away from Dan and me, emotions flooded in. I started to cry. I was defeated, embarrassed, exhausted, scared, thirsty, and bruised. I had let myself down, and I had pushed myself past my limits. I began to doubt myself as a kayaker, leader, and partner. I thought about every time I had helped a student though a difficult situation; now I was the one swimming and crying. It had been so long since I had had a bad swim, and I had really lost that feeling of being gripped on a river.

Then it all clicked. I love the river because you can’t control it, it never stops, and you must always be engaged. I love the river because it never stops teaching you, humbling you, and helping you grow physically and mentally strong. We got back out on a class III river to rebuild my confidence. It wasn’t long before I was running stretches much more advanced than the Consanga—and styling my lines. It had all been a success. I had turned a bad situation into an opportunity for growth. I was on top of the world, and I was excited to see what would happen next. What happened next was more difficult that anything I’ve done on a river. Dan’s grandfather had passed away at the start of our trip, and now we needed to cut our expedition short to be with his family. It occurred to me just how similar life and the river can be. “You can’t control the river, and you certainly can’t stop it. You have to go with the flow and take things as they come.” Our trip did not play out as planned. Not by a long shot. Even if it wasn’t the trip we had planned, it seemed to be the trip that I needed.

Spring 2013


04Issue Room


JULY NOLS and others meet to discuss the pending lease sale of 175,000 acres in the Wyoming Range.

Lease Buyout

SEPTEMBER The U.S. Forest Service revises the proposed acreage to be leased from 175,000 to 44,700 acres.

By Jack Fisher, Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability intern

Wyoming’s Hoback Basin Spared

JANUARY An outreach campaign ensues, consisting of public meetings, media outreach, and grassroots efforts. DECEMBER Oil and gas leasing of 44,700 controversial acres begins.


AUGUGST Statewide support builds. Tragically, U.S. Senator Craig Thomas passes away days before he could introduce a bill on behalf of the stakeholders. The Hoback Basin near Jackson, Wyo. has been protected through the diligent efforts of many so it will continue to be available to many. Aaron Bannon


OCTOBER 25 Senator John Barrasso, Thomas’ replacement, introduces the Wyoming Range Legacy Act.


MARCH 30 President Obama signs the Wyoming Range Legacy Act into law, prohibiting future oil and gas leases from being issued.


JANUARY The Trust For Public Land coordinates the purchase of all 58,000 acres of PXP’s leases in the Wyoming Range for $8.75 million.



LOOKING FORWARD Permanent protection remains elusive for the southern section of the 44,700 acres. NOLS is working with stakeholders to ensure this classroom remains free of development.


A nother brick has been laid to shore up the foundation of conservation in the Wyoming Range. In a remarkable display of generosity and community cohesion, the Trust for Public Land announced in early January the completion of a deal to purchase the leases attached to 58,000 acres of land within the Bridger Teton National Forest in the northern reaches of the Wyoming Range. In just 90 days, more than 1,000 individuals donated the $8.75 million needed to purchase the leases from Houston-based Plains Exploration and Production (PXP). This buyout is Wyoming conservationists’ most significant victory in recent memory. It put a stop to PXP’s plans for the installation of 136 natural gas wells, and as a result guaranteed permanent protection for the headwaters of the Hoback River, critical wildlife migration routes, and prized hiking, climbing, fishing, and hunting opportunities. When President Barack Obama signed the Wyoming Range Legacy Act into law in 2009, he and Congress established a critical mandate for protection for the range—though the act did not prevent development on previously existing leases in the area. The recent buyout puts to rest development in the northern part of the range, but NOLS now must turn its attention to the leases further south, near the Horse Creek road head. Wilderness Quiz What is the Wyoming Range Legacy Act? How has this legislation affected recent environmental public policy? Answer on page 25.

Several courses, including Adventure courses for younger age groups and backcountry skiing and winter camping sections, use the Wyoming Range just to the south of the Hoback Basin. NOLS is collaborating with allies in the range’s conservation efforts. It is our hope that all existing leases in the Wyoming Range will be laid to rest and the entire area will remain free of development. The success in the Hoback Basin serves as an example of the sense of persistence and determination that is important to instill in the leaders of tomorrow. It is important, however, that we work with lawmakers and land management agencies to establish decisions that preserve our classrooms. Though there is public support for conservation, passing the hat to buy back our public lands is not a sustainable long-term solution. Congratulations to The Trust for Public Land for their remarkable achievement, to The Wilderness Society, the Wyoming Outdoor Council, and Citizens for the Wyoming Range who were critical to setting the stage for the deal, and thank you to all who continue to contribute to the lasting protection of the Wyoming Range. This newly preserved landscape serves as an ever-present example to future NOLS students of today’s struggle to maintain wild spaces.

Wild Side of Medicine



classrooM MedIcIne Is Wonderful. It works. Our splints make the patient comfortable, dislocations reduce easily, and litter carry practice is over in a matter of hours. But, as a NOLS semester learned when a seemingly innocent fall in the Southwest caused a painful patella dislocation, the real world is not so simple. This particular patella, which easily slips into place in the classroom, refused to budge. It was eventually reduced with sedation and a physician’s skill. The steep terrain made crafting the splint and moving the patient to a flat camping spot an epic unto itself, requiring careful communication and coordination, blending leadership and teamwork with wilderness medicine. the Steep teRRAIN MADe CRAFtING the SplINt AND MoVING the pAtIeNt to A FlAt CAMpING Spot AN epIC uNto ItSelF. The arrival of the litter and accompanying litter bearers the next morning made an extremely difficult task only difficult. Gaining the first ridge took hours of sweat and toil, a rope to belay the litter, and coordination between the litter bearers and those lugging the course equipment. This remained the theme over the next two days. Those of us watching this event unfold from the comfort of our offices looking at the topographic map and Google Earth remembered the vegeta-

tion and shattered rock underfoot and knew a litter carry was not going to be a picnic. While classroom speeches speak of reserving the use of helicopters for life and limb wilderness rescues, it’s an altogether different matter to determine, for real, that neither life, limb, patient, nor rescuer safety is in jeopardy and to make a decision to carry a patient. The reward is hard work and pride in your high standards for wilderness. Much of wilderness medicine seems mundane yet is so very necessary. The tasks of patient cleanliness and comfort, hydration, nutrition, and the improvised bathroom are classroom words that become real effort in the field, especially over days and days. The splint must be checked, and in this case opened, to dry and clean the skin that became sweaty in the hot environment. The focus must remain on the patient; nonetheless, the caregivers cannot forget to keep themselves healthy and effective. Two full days of manhandling the litter uphill, slipping on loose scree and whacking the bush delivered the patient to the waiting NOLS vehicle. The evacuation team wore the weary and satisfied smiles of knowing they did the tough job without complaint and did it well. This patient’s companions demonstrated their excellent expedition behavior and leadership when it mattered— not in the blush of excitement or the comfort of the classroom, but in the days of sustained effort.

The students put their lessons to work in challenging terrain. Nick Cross.

WilderneSS medicine Quiz SKill SerieS WMI has a growing collection of skills videos to refresh your memory on such practices as splints. Watch our pelvic wrap video to review the stabilization used in this recent drama in real life by scanning this QR code or visiting and searching “Pelvic Wrap video.”

Prevention PrinciPleS For communicable diSeaSe include a. Immediately picking up dropped food. b. Storing food between 45°F (7°C) and 140°F (60°C). c. Heating water until small bubbles appear. d. Washing hands. Answer on page 26.

Spring 2013


Alumni Profile

‘Hiking and championing people’ grad teams up with NOLS to provide epic adventure By Casey Dean, PR specialist and writer

Shelli Johnson, of Lander, Wyo., is the epitome of enthusiasm, demonstrating for all around her mission to live on purpose and to live her “best, most epic life.” The life she’s leading right now is “hiking and championing people.” Johnson is pursuing those passions through her life and leadership coaching business. “Epic Life dares you to go offtrail and uphill, to choose your way, even if it’s the hard way. It’s about going farther than you’ve ever gone,” her website states. In the capacity of life coach and NOLS Brooks Range graduate (until 2011, one of this Landerite’s few regrets in life was not having taken a NOLS course.), Johnson is pursuing an exciting venture with NOLS Professional Training. A yearlong program, the Epic Women Adventure will start with three months of one-on-one coaching by Johnson. The highlight will be a six-day NOLS course with Epic Life curriculum interwoven, followed by nine months of group coaching through circle calls. “I think that when we do something epic, something hard and challenging, the experience causes us to become more.”



Johnson knew from the start she wanted to partner with NOLS for this endeavor. She and NOLS share many values. For the same reasons NOLS places such emphasis on wilderness, Johnson feels the outdoor setting brings a unique element to the life coaching experience. In addition to being a practice field for facing challenge, it also provides immediate feedback. “The reason the wilderness is so important is because it’s indifferent,” she explained. “It’s not always blue skies and green fields and wildflowers, right? And that’s where a lot of the value is.”


Johnson is visibly brimming with anticipation at the idea of sharing the wilderness, her own “backyard,” with these women. In the Wind River Mountains near Lander, Johnson’s clients will be challenged, pushed, and awakened in the same way she was on her NOLS course. Working through her own discomfort with giving feedback, for example, yielding significant growth in Johnson’s communication skills, just one of the lessons she intends to expose her clients to through her partnership with NOLS. By handing the outdoor skills and NOLS leadership curriculum responsibilities over to the “experts,” Johnson will free herself to coach on such matters as way finding as a metaphor and leaving one’s comfort zone. “I think that when we do something epic, something hard and challenging, the experience causes us to become more,” she said. The “more” she hopes to help clients become is a source of inspiration for them as much as it is for Johnson. Diana Gibson, who joins the expedition from New Jersey, wrote with excitement about the challenge she would face this summer: “Here is a chance to become what I am potentially. I am not sure what I will experience, or endure, or what physical and emotional challenges I will face in the Wind Rivers of Wyoming. But I am willing to try this expedition because I believe that through great effort we evolve when we find our way through challenges laid before us,” Gibson wrote. “It was with absolute clarity that I saw Epic Women Adventures as an opportunity to do something profound for me.” That sentiment of doing it “for me,” is part of why this is a program for women. As a wife, mother, and business owner, Johnson recalls feeling a little guilty before taking off for her NOLS course. But she

Shelli Johnson grins during her course in Alaska. Shelli Johnson courtesy photo.

wouldn’t give up her NOLS experience for anything, and she wants to help other women find the same connections and growth she did. Accordingly, Johnson sought out women who wanted to “reclaim their lives,” women who had forgotten to pay attention to themselves because of focus on a career or having children. “I want to be more capable at something other than just my work. Be able to find my way around mountains, know how to live outside,” wrote client Wendy Bittner from San Francisco. Together, NOLS and Johnson should be able to rise to that challenge. “I’m handpicking the partner, the area, and the women, and I just think it’s going to be magical,” Johnson grinned before taking off on that day’s epic quest to shovel as many of Lander’s sidewalks as people would take her up on her offer. To learn more about Epic Life, visit

Alumni Profile

Sergio & Veronica:

21 Years with NOLS Patagonia By Nancy Pfeiffer, former instructor and employee

This year marks the 21st anniversary of Sergio Vasquez working as the caretaker of the NOLS Patagonia branch in Coyhaique, Chile. The branch is located on a 1,235-acre working campo (ranch), full of farm animals, a greenhouse, and garden. Here, Sergio and his wife, Veronica Romero, have raised a family, worked under three directors, and seen many changes both at NOLS and within Chile. On a windy January day last austral summer we sat together at their kitchen table drinking yerba maté and reflecting on the past two decades. Sergio first heard of NOLS through a friend of a friend. “The previous owner of the campo was a friend of a friend of mine,” Sergio reminisced. “He let me know that some gringos had purchased a campo outside Coyhaique and were looking for a cuidador [caretaker] to take care of the place. Here I first met John Hauf [NOLS Patagonia’s first director] and Molly Doran.” In 1992 Veronica was two-months pregnant with their son Humberto. With the clothes on their backs and a few pots and pans, they moved into the little 13-by-20-foot white and blue house that had provided shelter to the previous cuidadores. A small barn and chicken coop had been modified to serve as a bunkroom for instructors. It wasn’t until they arrived that Sergio and Veronica understood NOLS was a school and what that meant for their new role as cuidadores. “No tenia ningune idea.” I had not one single idea, Sergio said. Little did he know this job would even take him to the American West. “In the early years John Hauf encouraged me to go to Wyoming to work at Three Peaks Ranch. I helped ride rerations, worked on general ranch repairs, and helped train horses, but it was hard because I didn’t speak English and I missed my family,” he said. But in Chile, Sergio’s first job con-

Sergio and his family have made the NOLS campo home for many years. Fredrik Norrsell.

sisted of repairing fence. At that time, the campo had just one horse: Refluata. The previous owners of the campo sold her to Hauf under the condition that she never be taken off the campo. Reflauta had been a rodeo star, and he didn’t want his own horse to compete against him. Reflauta remained on the NOLS campo her entire life and died of old age just last winter on the upper campo. Her last foal still lives and works there. There were also two bueyas (oxen). They were used for everything from moving course rations to farm work. The cows and sheep would come later, as would the nine major buildings that make up NOLS Patagonia today. In 1996 Veronica purchased an automatic lavadora and started her own laundry washing business, a much-appreciated service for students. In 2000, when their son Humberto was 8 and their daughter Javiera was 5, Veronica started officially working for NOLS cleaning and organizing the, by then, many buildings on the campo. That same year, Sergio’s job started to change.

“I got a lot more responsibility, from learning to drive a tractor to organizing the workers for the new buildings. Now, I drive re-rations and help drop off courses. I even teach classes in campo skills, like how to shear sheep, ride horses, and milk cows for the Patagonia Year students.” As he and NOLS Patagonia have grown together, Sergio has stayed put out of love for the lifestyle, the variety, and the NOLS community. “I like that I get to know a lot of people. We have friends from all over the world,” he said. “I also really appreciate that people say gracias. If you do a good job, people recognize you and say thank you. That is often not the case for workers here in Chile. At NOLS, people respect your work.” After a day of reflecting, their attention turned to the future. “No tengo planas. Estoy tranquillo.” I don’t have plans, I am content, Sergio responded. At least for now, life at NOLS Patagonia will include the Vasquez family’s element of continuity. It’s impossible to imagine life here without them. Spring 2013


inspiring Diversity in the outdoors: expedition Denali looks ahead



By aparna rajagopal-DurBin, Diversity anD inclusion manager


By 2042 a majority of Americans will be people of color. Last year a majority of children under age 1 were babies of color. The majority of citizens in 10 states are people of color. Latinos are the fastest growing non-Caucasian demographic, and will constitute about a third of our nation’s population by 2050. These numbers are, in my mind, amazing—a fantastic culmination to two centuries of immigration into this country. Yet despite the rapidly shifting demographics of our nation, only a small percentage of those who enjoy the outdoors are people of color, according to the Outdoor Foundation’s 2012 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report. When asked what keeps them from participating in outdoor activities, most people responded that they either weren’t interested or that they lacked access. So what can we do to rewrite the narrative of outdoor education to be more inclusive? Role models. A 1992 study by NOLS’ Susan Benepe concluded that training people of color to be role models was essential if adventure education wanted to serve a more diverse audience. (Benepe, Susan, “Racial and ethnic diversity in wilderness use and environmental education.”) Enter Expedition Denali: Inspiring Diversity in the Outdoors. Through this expedition, NOLS will lead the first team of African Americans to attempt to summit Denali in June of 2013, making history on the 100th anniversary of its first ascent. Rising to 20,320 feet above sea level, Denali, also known as Mount McKinley, is the highest peak on the North American continent. A team of African Americans has yet to summit Denali. The Expedition Denali team are role models in their own right and include not only the mountaineers who will be making the summit bid in 2013, but also supporters such as public lands diversity champion and park ranger Shelton Johnson, Outdoor Afro founder Rue Mapp, educational reformers and founder of GirlTrek Morgan Dixon, writer

James Mills, photographer Dudley Edmondson, and business leader Stephen DeBerry. The expedition gives these role models a platform from which they can inspire families of color nationwide to get outside, get active, and connect with nature. More important than the actual expedition are the grassroots events that will occur across the nation during and after the expedition. For example, the longest and most strenuous day on Denali will be the summit day, a five-mile trip up and back to High Camp. Five miles is roughly equal to 10,000 steps. During the team’s ascent, NOLS will partner with organizations nationwide to rally young people and their families on the ground to hike their own “10,000 Steps to Denali” in outdoor spaces near their homes to commemorate this historic event. After the expedition, our participants will tour public and charter schools, nonprofit institutions, outdoor outreach organizations, community organizations, and church groups nationwide on speaking engagements. During this phase of the project— Project Inspiration—the team will inspire youth of color to connect with America’s wild places and take on outdoor pursuits they never imagined possible—whether in recreation, education, policy, conservation, land management, or government. Recently, REI and The North Face joined the ranks of Expedition Denali supporters, adding to a list of partners such as the Foundation for Youth Investment, The Sierra Club Foundation, and The White House’s Let’s Move Outside! Campaign to help support, underwrite the costs of the expedition and to outfit our mountaineering team. You too can do your part. Go out and develop some outdoor role models, or highlight one who already exists so young people can see that someone who looks like them from a similar background is out there playing in the outdoors. That’s the key to the protection of our wilderness classrooms.

The expedition will give these role models a platform from which they can inspire families of color nationwide to get outside, get active, and connect with nature.

To learn more about NOLS' Expedition Denali, visit To give to NOLS' diversity and inclusion programs, contact the author at Left: In June, the predominantly African American team will attempt to summit Denali. iStockphoto. Above: The team gathers in Lander, Wyo. in February. Brad Christensen. Spring 2013


Converting to eReaders on courses would save students a lot of weight and space in their backpacks. Brad Christensen.

Technology in the Field:

NOLS explores Nooks on courses By Meredith Hardwick, NOLS Marketing Representative

As part of a pilot program, NOLS sent eight Nook eReaders into the field last fall with semester courses. Each eReader weighs less than a paperback and can hold a large library of NOLS core curriculum, as well as any new bestseller. The idea of using this technology in the field is evidence of an evolving approach to the wilderness classroom. A number of instructors and students have been bringing eReaders to the field for personal use since the Kindle and Nook hit the market, but NOLS had not used them alongside physical books until this past fall. Thanks to the NOLS Curriculum department, two semester courses packed in digital versions of the standard backcountry library, protected by hardy Pelican cases, recharged through solar power, and distributed among tent groups as well as instructors. These students packed in the Barnes and Noble Nook that weighs 7.3 ounces, has a six-inch electronic-ink screen, can store up to 34 gigabytes, and has a battery life of two months if used only 30 minutes a day. The goal of the eReader pilot project is to test usage and durability in the field. During the 192 user days the eReaders spent with these fall courses, one tablet broke. One consideration with the incorporation of Nooks into the curriculum is the investment, care, and upkeep of these eReaders, as the cost of one being broken or accidentally left behind is higher than that of a single book. On the other hand, attention to the material is also higher. The Nooks in the pilot program saw more use than the traditional backcountry library. NOLS instructor Paul Rachelle led one of the courses, a Semester in the Rockies, that piloted the use of the

Nook in the field and reported an overall positive response. “[They were] lighter than a traditional field library, and students used them more than a field library. They had a ton of stuff on them (more than we could pack in),” he wrote. “The solar charger worked well, but we found that cold temperatures drastically reduced battery life, so they wouldn't be as good on cold-weather courses.” On each course, NOLS sends out a library of backcountry textbooks and the NOLS Cookery, as well as student and instructor personal reading. Numerous paperback books not only fill essential backpack space, but they also pile the pounds on students’ backs. With the Nook, students and instructors were able to carry a full library in one, lightweight device. This pilot project has sparked more discussion and data analysis to determine the next phase of their incorporation in NOLS operations. This pilot program, designed to test the feasibility of using eReaders on expedition courses, has also spurred philosophical questions. Most of today’s students would rather interact with a screen than a typical book, which encouraged the literary element on NOLS courses. On the other hand, the question of eReaders being a distraction or untrue to a “pure” backcountry experience is also being explored. Jamie O’Donnell, NOLS Rocky Mountain program supervisor and instructor, believes that as we approach this new technology, “we must remember that NOLS is a wilderness school, and that we need to stay grounded in the experience and foundations of our school’s mission.” With the eReader pilot under way and the spring semesters around the corner, the question of how to utilize this technology is being reviewed. Talk of sending these eReaders for strictly instruction purposes, instead of communal group gear, could limit distraction as well as possible excessive damage. The spring courses will be a continuing study of the pros and cons of eReader use in the backcountry as we continue to develop our NOLS curriculum for our students in the wilderness classroom.

Join the Conversation! Do you take your eReader into the backcountry or in your back yard to enjoy a lightweight read or as a convenient resource? NOLS alumni can download ePub versions of our student handbooks on or www.B& Let us know what you think! Send your thoughts to @NOLSedu, NOLS on Facebook, or The Leader staff at

Spring 2013





Fostering a community

Reservation youth benefit from NOLS, Ft. Washakie partnership By Brian Fabel, NOLS Rocky Mountain Special Projects Manager

“On my NOLS course it was amazing to go somewhere my ancestors had been, and see our land with a new perspective,” said Tefawnya Quiver, Fort Washakie High School (FWHS) junior and resident of the 3 million-acre Wind River Indian Reservation located just outside of Lander, Wyo. NOLS began working with FWHS in 2007 to provide a unique experiential education component for students and to strengthen and support NOLS’ connection to the reservation. The first seven-day expeditions increased cross-cultural training and experiential learning opportunities for both NOLS faculty and Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapahoe tribal members alike. NOLS instructors, FWHS teachers, and tribal members collaborate to teach these courses, which earn students three hours of academic credit. Shad Hamilton, FWHS principal who has been part of two NOLS FWHS courses, said the community collaboration makes this a powerful program. FWHS off-site virtual teacher teacher Christine Stanton agrees, saying, “For students, having community members and teachers in the field, in addition to NOLS instructors, helps bring academics, culture, and NOLS curriculum together in powerful ways.” Matt Lloyd, a former NOLS instructor who helped develop the program reflected. “This was, by far, my most rewarding project at NOLS,” he reflected. “Also, I think there are common values between NOLS and Native American cultures... namely, utmost respect for the natural world.” Such exchange of cultural insights occurs year after year. On a 2012 course, one student taught her course how to perform a traditional offering when her course ate fish. From then on for every fish the course caught, the students gave thanks. “The Fort Washakie student group is great at experiencing the world. These students were observed as methodical and ceremonial in the way they interacted with the natural environment and interacted with each other,” said NOLS instructor Sandy Heath. FWHS science teacher James Williams has been on two Fort Washakie NOLS expeditions and each time recognizes the change in students’ behavior when they return to the frontcountry: “When they come back, I see changes in leadership, trust, and confidence. These students really depend on each other.” The school’s guidance counselor, Scott Polson, said the opportunity for these youth to experience their back yards—literally their own land—is one that has a lasting impact. “It's a whole new high school/ summer school/ credit recovery concept,” Hamilton added. “In the last five years, most Ft. Washakie / NOLS grads have gone on to college!"

Polson also noted this opportunity wouldn’t be possible without NOLS’ financial support. In addition to the direct financial assistance NOLS provides to run the Fort Washakie High School courses, NOLS also offers a scholarship for individual Fremont County residents to take NOLS courses. Chancy Headley, a scholarship recipient who lives on the Wind River Indian Reservation, took the Fort Washakie High School course in addition to going on a 30-day course in Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming at the age of 14 and an Alaska Outdoor Educator course at age 19. He has worked for the past few summers for the U.S. Forest Service on a wilderness recreation crew and now has plans to take a NOLS Instructor Course. “This partnership is critical for NOLS and the Wind River Reservation,” Headley said. “The NOLS instructors learned as much about Indian culture as we learned from them about education and the outdoors.”

Inspiration flows both ways Christine Stanton, who taught on the first FWHS course, wrote about the exchange of inspiration that occurs: “During the course, we experienced some powerful phenomena that can only be explained within the context of tribal history and understanding. For instructors who work a NOLS/FWHS course, learning to view phenomena through a cultural lens increases their overall pedagogical effectiveness. Those instructors who work more than one NOLS/FWHS course find that view and effectiveness expanding with each subsequent course. My own interest in the power of such educator-level learning about culture served as an impetus for me professionally—I’m now an assistant professor of curriculum and instruction at Montana State University, where I specialize in social justice education as connected to Indigenous understandings of culture, history, and learning. In many ways, the first NOLS/FWHS course is responsible for where I am professionally today.”

Top: A course pauses for a photo shoot. Bottom left: Tribal leaders perform a drum ceremony at NOLS Rocky Mountain. Bottom right: Students show off their diplomas. Shad Hamilton and Brad Christensen Spring 2013



Photos courtesy of Trinity Ludwig




On a tandem, the two cranksets are linked together by the timing chain, meaning that both sets of feet are always moving in sync. The “captain” is in front and controls the braking, shifting, and steering. The “stoker” is tucked behind the captain and is responsible for providing power and following.

11:30 p.m. Sept. 24, 2012 I am tucked in behind Sam, the stoker window of vision limited even further by the night darkness. Branches brush my arms and legs. The trail is tight and allows no room for error. We have left the comfort and width of the empty dirt road we were climbing, and now find ourselves on a narrow single track wrapping around the north side of Richmond Peak. Lips pursed, I breathe through my mouth, long and slow pushing the air out and drawing on the trust deep within. I trust Sam completely. I can’t see where we are going. I can’t see the obstacles or the exposure until we are in the middle of it, but I can breathe and stay tucked tight, knowing that even the tiniest movement reverberates through the tandem, potentially changing its course. I feel Sam’s weight shift as he follows the zigs and zags of the trail and I follow him. I glance to my left long enough to see the scree slope we are cutting across tumble into a moonlit alpine meadow several hundred feet below. Breathe. Few words are exchanged. We ride wrapped in the night and sink deeper into the magic dance of the tandem. “Whap!” A giant branch slaps my arm, guarded by all of my puffy layers. I giggle uncontrollably. We are flying down a trail too narrow to allow clean passage. Sam calls, “Thwumper!” and another branch glances off of my layers, puncturing the night stillness with a loud “thwack” followed immediately by more giggles. “Ankle-biter!” I feel a distinctive sting of pain on my right leg as we blaze past an unforgiving branch. An

exclamation of pain competes with the giggles, and before any comment can be made I hear the next branch thwap against Sam’s crisp puffy layers. This pattern continues until the calls, alternating between ���Thwumper!” and “Ankle-biter!” are nearly as continuous as the laughter. Somehow we are riding this crazy trail, on a tandem, with a fully loaded trailer, in the dark! Countryside zooms by in a blur I can feel but not see. The trail widens, and my stomach jumps to my throat as if I’m on a rollercoaster. The hard dirt below our tires is fast, firm, and tacky and we pick up steam (something the tandem is VERY good at). I try to suppress the giggles and focus on following Sam’s every movement, keeping my body quiet, trying to move as one. “Whooper!” We hit another sharp rollover and again my stomach jumps. I giggle. We are flying, the tandem and trailer leaping and bucking, sharing in our glee. Our speedy descent is interrupted briefly when we glance off a sharp rock edge. A constant stream of air sails out of our tube and into the darkness. This is not our first flat. We exchange very few words as we channel our riding energy into the repair, our movements efficient, calculated and coordinated—a small bubble of light on a vast hillside. The race and dance continue until we shoot out onto an old U.S. Forest Service road. We sit up, coasting, breathing, giggles trailing behind us as we marvel at what we just rode. We pull into a nook off the side of the road, home for the night, and I glance at my watch and see “1:00 a.m.” staring back at me. Twelve days of riding since pedaling out of Bozeman, Mont. and three since picking up Adventure Cycling Association’s “Great Divide Mountain Bike Route” in Columbia Falls and beginning our journey south to Silverthorne, Colo. Spring 2013


Friends joined Sam and Katie for a day as they made their way over Union Pass in Wyoming.

5:25 p.m. Sept. 13, 2012 The storage unit door clangs down into place and the lock clicks. We head toward the canyon, passing the bank clock flashing “5:33” pm. It’s late, but we don’t care. Finally, we have all the necessary pieces (minus a pot lid). Our two weeks of organizing and reorganizing gear, ordering and waiting for last-minute parts, and bike building has come to a close. The bike is complete, rolling well, and we are off! We have coined this five-week tour, sandwiched between NOLS contracts, our own personal NOLS course. Pedaling away, we begin as students do, excited, but a little wobbly at first, uncertain of our systems, placing gear in different locations each day, and wondering where it went. Packing the trailer and bike is like re-learning how to pack a backpack. We are admittedly a junk show, the rig as unwieldy as a “tower of power” (i.e. a poorly packed backpack). We learn empathy. Despite diligently doing “campsweeps” we lose a few items. We call them “gifts.” We realize we are not infallible instructors. We are human. But with practice comes progress. We learn from our experience, our mistakes and our successes, and with the changing landscapes comes a new rhythm and a really good packing system.

8:45 a.m. Sept. 28, 2012



We scramble to unhitch the trailer and strip the last bit of touring weight from our rig. “TEN MINUTES!” The race director’s words ring out across the fields. I breathe slowly and accept the fact that we won’t see the entire race course, before the gun goes off, a luxury we were afforded the previous evening at the first race of the weekend. Pedaling into town, finding the park, reorganizing our gear, and prepping the bike took longer than anticipated. So, instead of riding the


course to establish lines and determine if the length of the tandem will indeed make it through all of the turns, we share observations and predictions about where the flags will lead us. Sam is driving. During the tour we rotate our positions on the bike every two days. It is technically my turn up front, but I turned it down. Sam is a more experienced, stronger, and more confident captain. He understands racing etiquette, having competed as a cyclist between the ages of 8 and 22. My background is in long tours with heavy trailers, less applicable to racing. We circle back to the start line. Cyclocross racing is Sam and Katie at our best. We have a common goal, riding fast, and we support one another to achieve it. We can’t help but be truly present as every ounce of our focus and teamwork is required to blaze around the course and over obstacles. As is such, we scheduled our tour to allow us to participate in a couple of events, providing an excuse to ride the tandem unloaded, testing what the bike could really do. A hand waves, and we are off. Chasing, breathing, flying. The course starts on pavement and we are fast, a freight train barreling down on the cyclists ahead. I focus on my breathing and watch the center of Sam’s back, looking over his inside shoulder as we lean into our first turn. Coast, leg up. Pedal. Coast. The smoother we are, the faster we go. We begin passing people and then come to a near standstill as Sam masterfully takes a sharp, zigzagging turn, designed for a single bike. We pedal out of it and into the next. Breathe. Two barriers lie ahead. I watch for Sam’s leg to unclip. In one motion we are off the bike, holding it in our right hands, while we run and jump the hurdles. In stride, Sam steps on the pedal and swings his leg over the top tube. I continue running and pushing the bike. He is on. I get the “OK,” and give one last push before launching myself onto the back of the bike, a shudder running through the frame. We are pedaling again, on spongy grass. No ground lost. My job is to provide power. I breathe and look at Sam’s back, demanding my legs to push harder, pull faster. The grass is dry, the route straight, and we begin flying. Racers drop behind us and we sneak past one more before the track narrows. We drop over an edge

Left: An 8-degree morning greets the tandem at Mosquito Lake in the Wind River Range. Right: The two start off on an early morning near the Sun River in Montana.

hauling! I breathe, noticing a sharp turn midway down the steep, grassy slope. “Sam is driving. Sam is driving,” I repeat to myself and try my best to follow and stay focused. We lean into the hard left and slingshot out of the turn. “Down.” I ease off the pedals for a split second and Sam shifts down a few gears. We are moving as one.

Giant snow-covered peaks dominate the horizon, and images of the last five weeks flood into my head. The hot, barren, rolling plains of northwest Montana, the sting of smoke in my nostrils and the hope for water in one of the distant aspen groves, small oases breaking up an otherwise desolate landscape. A sea of rainbow leaves as far as the eye can see. A line of crystal clear lakes out 5 p.m. Sept. 28, 2012 of which rise more mountains. Elk bugling under a starWe glance at the number scratched on a piece of paper and see that it lit sky. Speckles of orange marking the opening of huntmatches the house in front of us. Sam knocks on the door. It swings ing season. Flannel shirts and chainsaws acknowledge open and a smiling face we’ve only just met greets us like old friends the changing seasons. Exquisite pinks and oranges paint and sends us, and our long load, around back to the garage. The the sky between the white and black of aspen trunks. energy is nothing but kindness, joy, enthusiasm, and support. We un- Sun, rain, snow, mud, and swimming all in one day. load our gear, cold beer in hand, to the tune of a small dog sniffing our The scream of our tires on the pavement brings me ankles and wagging his entire body. John, a racer from earlier in the back, and I feel the sucking energy of the “frontcountry” day, shows Sam the basement and parts of his bike collection. I listen world. Lists of “things to do” boil to the surface of my to Sherry’s stories of a few of the adventures she mind, all that needs to happen and John have shared. A room, showers, laundry, to be ready for the next step. I food, Internet, anything we could possibly need “Down.” I ease off the pedals push them down. Fighting to is offered. We graciously accept the shower. Sam for split second and Sam stay present. A hawk crosses our and Sherry share the kitchen. A mix of garlic, shifts down a few gears. path and comes to rest in the greens, vinegar, tomatoes, sausage, and pasta fills We are moving as one. top of a nearby tree. the air. At the table laughter reigns over chewing. Sam and I have pedaled We all bask in the glow of making new friends almost 1,600 miles, literally and in the special kindness that comes when reaching out to strangers. together. We have woken up to countless sunrises, We are sad to leave their company the following morning but trust wrapped in one sleeping bag, sharing a hot drink as our paths will cross again, and chuckle knowing their kid-like spirits, we greet the day and eventually climb onto the same stories, and generosity will stay with us. bike. We have yet to find a better venue or metaphor for learning the art of being teammates in a commit3 p.m. Oct. 15, 2012: The Last Day of Riding ted relationship. The tandem allows us to practice beI sit up tall. Trying to soak it all in. Trying to slow down the golden ing close when all we want to do is turn away. On the leaves passing in a blur. We pause to fill water bottles, and I insist we rough, fast sections of road, trust is implicit. As captain scramble down for a quick swim, hoping to hold the inevitable at bay. and stoker we practice identifying and articulating our This journey will end. I am simultaneously wrapped in the anticipa- needs, the tandem providing direct feedback as to our tion of what is to come next and clinging to the simplicity, beauty, success. And as we diligently clean and tune the tanand love that is all around me. Stay present. The buzzing cars on this dem, we are reminded of the need to create space for paved section of road feel incongruous to the weeks of silent riding “tune-ups” within our relationship. The bike won’t run on sleepy dirt roads that skirt around mountains or cut across the without loving attention, and neither will we. endless plains of the great basin.

Spring 2013


Brad Christensen

Brad Christensen

Alumni Trips & Reunions

Alumni Trips If a month is too much to ask from the boss, the NOLS Alumni office offers shorter backcountry trips specifically designed for our working grads. We encourage you to bring family and friends along on these weeklong expeditions to reconnect with the school and introduce others to the NOLS experience. These trips have the same top-quality instructors, and though they aren’t guided trips, we do cater a bit more to the desires and maturity levels of our participants. Customized trips are also available. Call us to design your dream adventure. Signing up: A $200 per person nonrefundable deposit is required for enrollment on all alumni trips. For more information or to sign up, call NOLS Alumni at (800) 332-4280 or visit

White Water Rafting in Utah’s Lodore Canyon Dates: July 6–9, 2013  |  Cost: $900

Get away for a great outdoor family vacation. Invite your parents, bring the kids, and enjoy some quality time on one of the West’s most beautiful rivers. Enjoy beach camping, the rush of whitewater and the calm of s’mores around the campfire. This trip runs through the majestic Lodore Canyon of the Green River in Utah’s Dinosaur National Monument. On this exciting river trip, you will take part in moderate whitewater, unique river traditions, and great camaraderie. Based out of the NOLS facility in Vernal, Utah, this trip builds on your NOLS skills while introducing you to new experiences.

Mountaineering Wyoming’s Gannet Peak (Alumni Only) Dates: July 22–August 1, 2013  |  Cost: $2,295

Head deep into the heart of the Wind River Mountains and find yourself atop Wyoming’s highest peak! This classic NOLS adventure includes a beautiful approach hike through the foothills of the range. At the base of the peak, a team of horse packers will arrive with climbing gear and extra rations. This means light packs for mountaineers on the approach! Glacier travel technique, ice axe use, and technical rope work will keep you engaged and learning as you cross the Dinwoody Glacier and work toward Gannett’s 13,809’ summit. As alumni, the expedition is the perfect opportunity to put your NOLS travel and camping skills back to work and take it to the next level!

Fly Fishing and Photography with Llamas in Wyoming Upcoming NOLS Alumni Events NOLS is coming to your community this spring! We’re hosting alumni reunions for grads, friends, families, and guests all across the nation. Reunions include snacks, tales of adventure, a gear raffle, camaraderie, and networking. Look for events in your area this spring:

• Chicago, Ill. • Salt Lake City, Utah • Durham, N.C. • Portland, Ore. • Seattle, Wash. • Boston, Mass. • Denver, Colo.



For more information, see


Dates: July 28–August 2, 2013  |  Cost: $1,295

Fishing, photography, and light packs make a great way to explore the Wind River Mountains with family and friends! On this alumni trip, our furry companions will help share the load and add a slight twist to the character of our group. This journey travels through prime fishing and classic scenic regions of the Winds. Dabbling in photography, refining your casting technique and relaxing with family and friends in a beautiful wilderness environment is what this trip is all about.

Alumni Service Trip in Wyoming

Dates: August 11–17, 2013 |  Cost: $595 This trip takes NOLS grads, family, and friends into Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains for a week of camaraderie, connection and service. We will partner up with the U.S. Forest Service and the Student Conservation Association to conduct meaningful and challenging service projects that protect public lands. This year we’ll focus on wetland mitigation projects in the Stough Creek Basin area of the southern Winds. Construction and trail maintenance is the theme. Although service work is demanding, the rewards are great. There will also be time for fishing, photography, and possibly a non-technical peak ascent. Feel the satisfaction of giving back to the wilderness that gives to us by being a part of a great service project in a beautiful place.


the promise of Wilderness

the gluten free Edge

By James Morton Turner

By Peter Bronski and Melissa McLean Jory, Medical Nutrition Therapist

Wilderness is the heart and soul of most NOLS courses. It is the gateway to inspiration, solitude, and challenge. In his book, “The Promise of Wilderness,” James Morton Turner provides us with perhaps the most in-depth look that has yet been written about the movement that preserved these pristine landscapes, and the evolving, continuing relevance of that effort. “The Wilderness Act marked a turning point in American environmental politics— it was among the first of a new generation of environmental law of national scope that put the government in the business of protecting the environment,” writes Turner. He begins by framing the passage of the Wilderness Act in the era of social change that defined the ’60s. He then describes the transformation of wilderness politics into a local, volunteer-driven effort. Turner’s careful analysis of the central characters and organizations in Wilderness politics over the last five decades brings a fresh perspective to the continuity of causes beginning with the 1964 passage of the Wilderness Act, through the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, which protected 2 million acres of new wilderness across the nation. As a wilderness advocate who cut my teeth working for the Sierra Club almost 15 years ago, I gained a great deal of perspective through this scholarly work into an world that I thought I understood well. Reviewed by Aaron Bannon, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability Director. © 2012, by University of Washington Press.

Whether you are gluten sensitive or intolerant, or a recreational or endurance athlete, co-authors Peter Bronski and NOLS graduate Melissa McLean Jory argue that all athletes can benefit from the “gluten free edge.” Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, and spelt that helps dough stretch. However, it can be challenging for the body to digest, even when one doesn’t have a sensitivity to it. Americans are eating more gluten than ever—through fast food and grain heavy diets, along with wheat modified to have higher levels of gluten. Through a mix of clearly stated research and evocative athlete stories, The Gluten Free Edge makes a strong case for athletes to take on a gluten-free diet. This sports nutrition and training guide sets out a plan of action to help athletes get the most out of a gluten-free diet, including a number of tasty recipes. In the NOLS test kitchen, the gluten-free chocolate beet muffins got an overwhelming thumbs up, and the spicy lime chips were also a big hit. Other recipes include high country hash, backcountry muesli, and gluten-free pizza. Backcountry travelers and marathoners alike will benefit from this thorough and entertaining guide to going gluten free and thriving through the transition. Reviewed by Larkin Flora, Development Communications Coordinator. © 2012, The Experiment.

Enlightened kayaking By Brett Friedman Seasoned student of kayaking and experienced NOLS instructor Brett Friedman has reshaped an influential blog into an iBook exclusive on Zen approaches to the sport of kayaking. Blog-like in its format, Enlightened Kayaking is a user friendly and interactive guide on skill development of basic to advanced kayaking. The knowledge he offers is tied together by eclectic life lessons. For Friedman, it is important to approach the art of kayaking with a patient, open minded, and relaxed attitude—all while practicing awareness in development to have a fluid experience. Friedman’s long association with NOLS is apparent in the structure and style of these lessons in a well-developed and hands-on fashion. Lesson plans include different techniques, scenarios, equipment reviews, and drills as well as environmental awareness and safety that are necessary in pursuing a well-informed

personal voyage in the backcountry. The chapters of this iBook are organized to build from a base skill level through interactive exercises, short videos, and descriptive sections that emphasize the necessary drive for simplicity and balance. Largely influenced by Eastern teachings, lessons from Buddhism, Zen Koans, and Tai Chi structure the learning process into a deeper connection with the experience of kayaking. For NOLS grads who have taken a kayaking course or are just interested in learning basic to advanced kayaking techniques, this is a must read. Even for experienced kayakers, Friedman’s iBook guide puts a fresh spin on the approach to learning and experiencing the sport that he is so passionate about. For NOLS alumni interested in Friedman’s work but who have not made the leap to iPad technology, the birthplace of Friedman’s collective kayaking knowledge can be accessed on the blog site where questions and videos may be sent for complementary advice and valuable critiquing. Reviewed by Meredith Hardwick, NOLS Marketing Representative. Copyright © 2012 by Brett J Friedman

Spring 2013


Gear Room



The right tools make an adventure a treat. Rich Brame



If you’ve had nols adventures In WyoMInG, chances are that you’ve had the chance to learn fly-fishing. Not only that, if your NOLS mountain course was in the last 10 years, you’ve been outfitted with some impressive Orvis brand fly rods. NOLS issues Orvis rods because students have success and fun casting on responsive gear. Novices in particular benefit from the control and “feel” of a decent graphite rod. Fly fishing is a life skill, so many students go on to fish around the world, sometimes including the Bahamas where angling for bonefish is a high art. I recently had the chance to test a high-end Orvis ZG Helios 8-weight saltwater rod in the Bahamas. The Helios was a beauty—nine feet of responsive graphite made in four pieces in the U.S. for easy travel. It’s light too—perhaps 25 percent lighter than traditional graphite. Teamed with an Orvis Mirage IV reel, it was very effective rig for stalking the wily bonefish. This fishing rod worked well casting to moving fish; it proved responsive and accurate in my hands. The action was fast, and I found I could put the fly anywhere I wanted. The Helios’ tip flex also minimized the effect of the wind compared to stiffer rods I’d tested in the past. Finally, I was able to cast further with the ZG Helios than with my previous rod. The balance between the rod and the reel felt great. In fact, I never noticed it. To me, not thinking about the balance during a whole fishing trip means it is perfect. Orvis has several models of freshwater and saltwater Helios rods to match your fishing goals and style. This saltwater rod, with a 25-year guarantee, retails for $800. Despite the cost, the Helios’ smooth, responsive action really makes a difference. My recent experience bonefishing with the Orvis ZG Helix was exactly what I was looking for.


Start by adding a dash of passion, followed by some ambition and extensive knowledge. Next, add in years of perseverance and confidence. Bring to a boil. Lastly, top things off with consistency and let simmer. The finished product will melt in your mouth. When you’re taken out of your comfort zone, when your limits are tested, your mind and body become capable of so much more than you would have thought. When students on NOLS courses experience this, the end result is a more competent leader, a better team player, a person with stronger wilderness skills, and an overall well-rounded individual. This might explain why NOLS was recognized as a Top-Rated Nonprofit for 2012 by Great Nonprofits is the leading site for reviews and ratings of nonprofits. Its mission is to inspire and inform donors and volunteers, enable nonprofits to show their impact, and promote greater feedback and transparency. With so many outstanding reviews given by NOLS grads, it isn’t surprising the organization was given the recognition. One former student wrote, “Of my 8 semesters during my undergraduate college career, the semester I spent at NOLS was far and away the most valuable. NOLS builds leaders…” The CEO of Great Nonprofits said, “They deserve to be discovered by more donors and volunteers who are looking for a great nonprofit to support.” NOLS continues to stand by its missionto be the leading source and teacher of wilderness skills and leadership that serve people and the environment.

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Intensive Wilderness Medicine Training


• This month-long course integrates an urban EMT course and a Wilderness Upgrade for Medical Professionals/Wilderness First Responder course.



• T he course includes classroom education, practical skills, scenarios, and full-scale mock rescues, in addition to clinical rotations helping to provide care for real patients. • L earning takes place both in the classroom and in outdoor settings regardless of weather conditions. Come prepared for wet, muddy, cold, or hot environments.

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Recipe Box


coffee Is, for Many, the only Way to start the day. It’s not just the caffeine; it’s the aroma, the ritual as you become more alert to the day, it’s holding warmth in your hands as camp starts to stir and the sun rises over the mountains. Perhaps because it is so entrenched in each day’s beginning, it is also deeply personal. Global advice dictates that you not discuss religion or politics if you’re not prepared for

an argument; coffee falls within that list as well. Never the type to shy from a debate, we jumped right into the topic of the perfect cup of camp Joe in the most recent NOLS Cooking Show. Watch the clip at to get an overview of a number of methods for preparing coffee in the backcountry, which we boiled down in this chart.



Boil, slowly pour water over grounds. Cost: $3 SINGLE SERVE



Boil, slowly pour water over grounds. Cost: $17 INSTANT COFFEE

Boil, add packet. Cost: $0.75 per serving COWBOY COFFEE

Boil, add coffee, wait five minutes. Cost: Free (have pot for water already) FRENCH PRESS

Boil, pour water over grounds, wait five minutes, press. Cost: $15-50 SERVES 1+



Boil, pour water over grounds, press. Cost: $25 BIALETTI

Add water and grounds, assemble Bialetti, boil. Cost: $30-50


WhAt’S bESt for yoU? We know we couldn’t possibly encapsulate all that one must consider in preparing the perfect pot, so we’re inviting you to join the conversation. Send us your thoughts. What did we overlook? Where did we misguide our audience? What’s your tip that pushes your coffee over the edge to sublime? Put your thoughts into video form, because we’re ready to send a free AeroPress to the best video response we receive, and the next five will receive a free bag of coffee for your next adventure.



intrigUEd? Watch our backcountry chefs brew a few cups by scanning this QR code or visiting and searching “Cooking Show.”



Contact the Alumni Office via telephone (800-332-4280) or email ( to find contact information for any of your course mates. Grads from the ‘80s Christopher Nielsen, Spring Semester in the Rockies ‘89 Chris lives in Maine guiding personal whitewater raft trips. Brenda Rootham, Fall Semester in the Rockies ‘80 Brenda is a kindergarten teacher at the Ottawa-Carleton School District Board in Ontario. She remembers the lessons and memories from her NOLS course and advises others to be true to themselves and their dreams. Take a look around; be thankful for all the earth has to offer. To all of her coursemates and instructors: hello and she wishes you all great happiness. Grads from the ‘90s Jonathan Dickinson, Semester in the Pacific Northwest ‘90 Jonathan works in the

environmental field because of his NOLS experience. Initially he worked supporting sailing vessel-based education programs. For the last decade he has been an energy and climate advisor to Mayor Michael Bloomberg in New York City. Jonathan is married with two kids, ages 7 and 5. He takes them camping often and uses his NOLS skills each time. He says his kids will be ready for NOLS in another 13 years; he can’t wait. Kristen Wiig, Spring Semester in Baja ‘93 Kristen, along with comics Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, and Jerry Seinfeld, appeared on the Jan. 2, 2013 Vanity Fair cover. Congrats, Kristen! Anne Chilton Arbaugh, Semester in Kenya ‘98 Anne offered pictures of her Africa course to NOLS. Anne and her husband own and operate a restaurant in

Wilderness Quiz The Wyoming Range Legacy Act is: This legislation established in 2009 essentially does two things: 1) It prevents any new oil and gas leasing in the Wyoming Range, 2) Although any existing leases are not affected, if an existing lease expires or is retired, that area then becomes off limits to re-leasing. The Trust for Public Land, in collaboration with a coalition of environmental organizations, concerned citizens, and more than 1,000 donors, completed a transaction to purchase oil and gas leases on 58,000 acres of land in Wyoming’s Hoback Basin this winter. The acquisition means that affected land inside the Bridger-Teton National Forest near Grand Teton National Park will be forever saved from oil and gas drilling and preserved for hunting, fishing, and recreation. Approximately 85 percent of the acquired leases fall within the boundaries of the Wyoming Range Legacy Act, which allows bought-out leases to be retired permanently, instead of being re-sold to other oil and gas companies.

Charleston, WV called South Hills Market and Café. They also have a 3-year-old daughter. Anne sends best wishes to all NOLS future students and graduates. Grads from the ‘00s Sarah Lancaster, Brooks Range Expedition ’02 & WEMT ‘09 Sarah recently dominated the Lander Maverick Karaoke Finals, besting dozens of other contestants during a 12-week series of singing events. Departing from her tried-andtrue Dixie Chicks catalog and borrowing heavily from MC Hammer’s signature dance moves, Sarah clinched top prize with a startling and soulful mash-up of Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.” Nick Braun, Baja Coastal Sailing ‘04 & NOLS Instructor Nick recently transitioned into a full-time position at NOLS Headquarters as the alumni program coordinator. He will continue to work field courses as well as planning and executing the alumni trips. If you are in Lander, look him up.

Nick Braun, the new NOLS alumni program coordinator, caught this 25-30 pound yellowtail tuna on a handline, and it almost pulled him off the boat.

On Jan. 5, Chloe began running the 817-mile Arizona Trail run with friend Amelia “Mia” Sky in an attempt to finish it under 28 days. If they complete it, this will be the fastest women’s record on the trail. They are running for RAW (Running Arizona for Women) a women’s advocacy club at Prescott College. Grads from the ‘10s

David Cully, Wind River Wilderness ‘07 David hiked the Pacific Crest Trail last summer, starting in Mexico on April 1 and finishing in Manning Park, BC in August. He graduates from Colorado College next May. Chloe Rossano, North Cascades Mountaineering ‘08 & Denali Mountaineering ‘09

Todd Hanna, Pacific Northwest Trip Leader ‘10 Todd helped start an organization called Explore Austin and is currently on their board of directors. His NOLS experience played a crucial role in the development of the program, as did that of their volunteers and mentors. In addition to being a NOLS

grad, he is a veteran (former Marine Officer with two tours in Iraq) who has seen first-hand the power of the wilderness on returning vets. In addition to NOLS, he has climbed the Grand Teton and Mt. Moran in the Tetons and is scheduled to do the “Grand Traverse” this summer. Michael Froehly, Semester for Outdoor Educators ‘11 Since his course, Michael finished college, developed professionally, and became a leader in the community. He and Zach Wigham (OESF ’11) have developed a number of initiatives at Unity College. He feels without his NOLS experience, they wouldn’t have had the skills and drive to create such initiatives.

Spring 2013 25


Jack Fisher, Fall Semester in the Pacific Northwest ‘11 Jack recently joined the NOLS Environmental Sustainability & Stewardship department at NOLS Headquarters. Before that, Jack spent six weeks in Taos, New Mexico, doing a hands-on construction internship at Earthship Biotecture. He plans to finish out his undergraduate career at Colorado University in Boulder studying geographical information systems and environmental design. Brent Wallen, Spring Semester in the Rockies & WFA ‘12 Brent just launched as a NOLS Marketing intern at NOLS Headquarters. Watch for his work on social networks, press releases, and events near you. Marriages, Engagements & Anniversaries



Ethan Andrew Holub, Fall Semester in Patagonia ‘97 & Christine Anne Bourke Were married on Sept 29, 2012 near Eugene, Ore. They had a large wedding, which a couple fellow NOLS alumni attended. Their honeymoon was a monthlong island-hopping journey in the Caribbean. They reside in Eugene, Ore.


Bob Emery, Spring Semester in Patagonia ‘06 & Whitney Batlin Rock Climbing ‘05 NOLS instructors Bob and Whitney were married Sept. 8, 2012 on Lower Saranac Lake in New York’s Adirondack Mountains.


New Additions Scott Clark, Rock Climbing ‘97 Scott and his wife are excited to introduce Eloise (Ellie) Jane. Jared Scott, Baja Coastal Sailing ‘06 & Annie Clausen Scott, NOLS instructor On Nov. 29, 2012, Wyatt Thomas Scott was born to Annie and Jared. Wyatt was 7 pounds, 9.5 oounces at birth. He has red hair and blue eyes. Mother and son are doing well. In Remembrance Patrick Mumme, Waddington Range Mountaineering ‘05 & NOLS Instructor Patrick Christopher Mumme passed away at St. Patrick’s Hospital in Missoula on Dec. 9, 2012 from injuries sustained in an automobile accident; he was surrounded and held by family and friends. Patrick was a well-respected and well-loved longtime NOLS instructor. Lawson Hayes, Fall Semester in Patagonia ‘97 Lawson Hayes III, beloved son of Jean and Lawson “Boo” Hayes, Jr., died Friday, Jan. 11. Lawson was a graduate of Christ School in Arden, N.C. and the College of Charleston. He also graduated from NOLS in Chile, South America. Lawson’s special interests were his family, cooking, and all outdoor activities with companion Husky, “Niko.”

Brad Christensen

Meredith Hardwick, Wind River Mountaineering ‘12 After four months interning in the NOLS Alumni department, Meredith is transitioning to a full-time position in the school’s marketing department. She’s excited to broaden her NOLS work experience, share NOLS connections with prospective students, and base in beautiful Lander, Wyo.

In 2008 NOLS set some ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals, building upon sustainability goals first set forth in the NOLS Strategic Plan. We reached our first goal a year early by reducing our carbon emissions by 10 percent in 2009. The next goal, a 30-percent reduction by 2020, is lofty (and more exciting!). Our initial 10-percent reduction was easily achieved through “low-hanging fruit,” but our 2020 goal is of a magnitude that requires a more comprehensive and systematic approach. Team 2020 was created to help guide the school in pursuit of this goal in a manner that serves the NOLS mission and engages our community. Team 2020 turned one year old this past December and already has a number of significant initiatives to celebrate. Perhaps the most impressive is our Facility Efficiency Initiative, which seeks to bring all NOLS-owned facilities to a high energy efficiency standard. NOLS facilities around the globe are completing these audits to ensure each building is thoroughly weatherproofed, and to catalog any projects that will improve efficiency such as installing low-energy light fixtures, replacing old appliances with Energy Star alternatives, and choosing low-flow fixtures. This is just a small sampling of the low cost options that will increase building comfort and decrease energy costs. Smaller sustainability projects continue to move forward as well, and Team 2020 keeps an eye on all these moving pieces to ensure that NOLS sustainability stays on track. Nearly halfway to our 2020 goal, we are on track to achieve our 30 percent reduction, but Team 2020 still has some significant work ahead, including tackling transportation (responsible for over 35 percent of our carbon footprint). Building Efficiency Tip: The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that lighting comprises 35 percent of office building electricity use. Try turning off the overheads and use natural lighting during the brighter hours of the day.

Wilderness Medicine Quiz d.  Washing hands. Our hands are a powerful vector to distribute pathogens, and hand washing our most powerful tool to prevent transmission.

Branch Notes

Remember the moment you first set foot in a NOLS building, wherever in the world it was? All novel and unfamiliar in the first days, it was comfortable and familiar by the time you were de-issuing and celebrating your course. Well, it’s business as usual at NOLS locations around the world; stay up to date on the activities here or on the NOLS Blog at

NOLS Yukon: • Summer 2012 saw many familiar faces around NOLS Yukon, with 81 percent of our 26 in-town and field staff being veterans of some kind. So far it looks like 2013 will also bring lots of familiar faces—proving we all just can’t get enough of the Yukon! • We also welcomed amazing new staff and students from six different countries around the world: Japan, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Switzerland, as well as Canada. • We are busy working to have our say in how the Yukon government will manage and protect the Peel Watershed, an area of 67,000 square kilometers (approx the size of West Virginia or New Brunswick) of potential wilderness classroom. NOLS New Zealand • NOLS New Zealand just celebrated its 10th anniversary! • One-third of New Zealand’s population lives in Auckland, the largest city on the north island. Another third lives elsewhere on the north island. The third third lives on the south island. NOLS New Zealand operates only on the south island. • Spring semesters in New Zealand finish with a 10-day sailing section. Students and instructors live, travel, and learn onboard a chartered keelboat and are self-sufficient. We sail aboard two Chieftains, 38-foot full keel, sloop-rig vessels. NOLS Australia • There is exactly one sealed road through the western Australia Kimberley region, an area the size of the state of California. • Only three towns in the Western Australia Kimberly can boast a population over 2,000: Broome (14,500), Kununurra (6,500) and Derby (4,500); the rest of the population totaling 38,000 live on cattle ranches, Aboriginal communities, and mining camps. • Last year NOLS Australia had more than 3200 student days in the field. NOLS Southwest • Semester on the Borders takes students across America, starting at NOLS Southwest then traveling 1,583 miles to NOLS Pacific

Northwest. • Joshua Tree Park has over 400 climbing formations and 8,000 climbing routes. It is also home to 18 different lizards, 25 varieties of snakes, and the desert tortoise, which travels at an average speed of 0.2 miles per hour! • NOLS Southwest worked hard this past fall for courses to avoid the 412-square-mile Gila fire that was burning on their operating grounds.  NOLS Teton Valley • NOLS Teton Valley purchased a 10-acre parcel of land adjacent to our land in the fourth quarter of 2012. The new parcel also serves for staff housing, mass quantities of raspberry production, and affirming our commitment to the Teton Valley. • Our branch participated in the Teton County 4-H livestock auction once again this year. A wonderful specimen of pork, formerly named Oinkers, now graces our kitchen freezer. This 237-pound wonder was raised by 10-year old Amy Moulton. Thanks Amy! NOLS India • The Himalaya Backpacking course from the fall of 2012 was the first catalog course to source 100 percent of rations from India! • A typical NOLS hiking course in India cumulatively climbs more than the height of Mount Everest (29,035 feet) • There is a speaking capacity of eight languages within the in-town staff of NOLS India: Hindi, English, Kannada, Telugu, Manipuri, Kumaoni, Marathi, and Konkani. NOLS Rocky Mountain • As part of the home stay section, students from each of the first two Tanzanian Semesters have constructed a building for a primary school outside the town of Karatu, Tanzania. Semester students live with student families and often walk to school with them in the morning. • During the last semester, James (KG) Kagambi passed Marco Johnson as the NOLS instructor with the most weeks in the field of all time. He now has 633 field weeks, which translates to: 12 years or 4,431 days of camping, 7,500 pounds of NOLS

Top: Children celebrate their new school. Bottom: Students build a school near Karatu, Tanzania. Gary Cukjati

field rations, (none of which was cheese), at least 185 courses, over 2,400 students, countless stories, and a sharing of love for the mountains for young people around the globe. He is truly an internationalist and a treasure.

Spring 2013 27



What’s the difference? Think of NOLS as a large investment, like buying a house. You have to make payments on your mortgage, but you also need to pay to keep the lights on. In the world of NOLS fundraising, the endowment is like the long-term investment of mortgage payments, while the annual fund is like the immediate need to pay the utility bills.

Lasting Security

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Small Gifts Making Large Impacts

Available to Use

Stability During Times of Recession

Every Year

Expenses Not Covered by Student Tuition

Short Term

BUFFER Long-term


Checking Account




Immediate Needs

Savings Account

Needs to Increase with the Growth of the School



Belay Off

Where we come from By LJ Dawson, Wyoming Backpacking Adventure for 14- and 15-year-olds

When I tell people that I went on a month-long backpacking trip, I get confused and strange facial expressions in response. “What do you mean?” they ask. “No shower, like at all?” “What about TV?” Not even a bath, I respond. The questions keep pouring, ending with a statement like, “ That must have been horrible.” Looking back on my NOLS course, there were hard days, filthiness, and no Saturday Night Live. Despite the lack of all those superfluous things, my NOLS course gave me something I cannot explain to others who have never experienced it. My instructors warned me about this: no matter how funny, touching, or life changing a moment was on my trip, it might fall on deaf ears when recounting it. But here I go again, attempting to explain how momentous those 30 days were for me (written on my course): Back where we came from, you can see The Big Horn Mountains, craggy pillars of rock garlanded in snow. We came over those mountains, encountering problems in as much abundance as rocks, but we conquered everything

in our path. No matter how tired we felt, how homesick, how hungry, or how heavy our packs weighed, we pushed on. If those mountains have taught me anything, they taught me determination. When my determination failed, and I wanted to quit, one of my friends always reminded me that I could keep going, beThose memories of hardship and cause they were, too. merriment are imprinted upon my We have summitmind and will outlive the scars ted mountains toand calluses from this trip. gether, forded creeks, straddled trees, cried, swum in freezing waters, eaten, slept, hiked, and most importantly laughed together. Those memories of hardship and merriment are imprinted upon my mind and will outlive the scars and calluses from this trip. We have our differences, but the most important thing is that we have found our similarities. We spent 30 days of what many people would call hell together, but there was beauty amongst the hellishness. The red sunset at Emerald Lake, seeing elk and moose, the view from Cloud Peak, backpack wars (it’s a long story), catching fish, stories told around campfires, fresh

This and next page: LJ and her course have numerous photos to reflect on “where they came from.” LJ Lawson

Spring 2013 29

Belay Off



fruit, swimming holes, and warm days without the bus. New problems will keep hitting us, mosquitoes. We experienced beauty in its raw- and they will not be as simple as how to get est form: nature. We learned determination, up a mountain or stay warm on a cold night. perseverance, confidence, independence, and When these problems strike, the strength that conquered many of our fears. Although none of these 30 days have given us will keep us on our us are jumping to leave civilization for a month feet. After we walked on our feet for over 100 again, I value fresh fruit, beds, showers, and life miles, nothing can knock us down. in the civilized world more than I ever before The mountain sky behind us is clear blue, as did. I hope we all take this appreciation back life has been simple for the past 30 days. But with us when we a haze covers return home. the sky ahead, Although none of us are jumping to leave What we just as life will civilization for a month again, I value fresh learned on this not be as crysfruit, beds, showers, and life in the civilized trip reaches tal clear when world more than I ever before did. I hope we deeper than we return. all take this appreciation back with us when simply knowThough this we return home. ing how to kill trip has been more than one scattered with mosquito with hardship, I one swipe or how to make one pair of clothes could not be more grateful for the strength and last a month, and it’s even more pertinent than friendship it has given me. If not to just be able the survival skills we learned. We grew inside to finally say: look where we came from. and will come back to the world as better and Back in high school, I find myself returning to those stronger people. All that hardship and learning memories on a daily basis, reminding myself of all the lies between those rocky spires and the clear blue lessons I learned. Sometimes, I wish I could be back on mountain sky. In front of us lay the flat rolling my NOLS course living in the simplicity and freedom hills of civilization. We will be submerged in the that only nature can grant. At other times, when faced whirlwind of society when we return, but let us with a daunting problem, I remind myself that if I made not forget what these mountains taught us. it through all the trials and tribulations of that trip I can After climbing 18,000 feet on this trip, the make it through absolutely anything with a smile. only upward steps left to conquer are those onto


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Gut Course

Trout By Judith Thurman, 1984 Wind River Wilderness for 23 and over [This article was first printed in the Dec. 3, 2012 issue of The New Yorker.] Illustrated by Alisha Bube

Thirty years ago, I took a two-week wilderness course for adults offered by the National Outdoor Leadership School, in Lander, Wyo. My 15 fellow adventurers were Americans of diverse persuasions intent on testing their mettle in the mountain fastness. Two devout nurses from New Jersey were seeking an experience of transcendence; a gay actor was proving his courage; a Texas couple who owned a summer camp were doing research. There was an adman tired of celebrity tantrums, and a corporate lawyer nostalgic for his ideals. My own impetus was divorce. We set out from a trailhead in the Wind River Range, at 10,000 feet, to hike, rappel, orienteer, and master the Tyrolean traverse—fording a river upside down, hand over hand, ankles crossed (sloth position) on a rope bridge. Most of the time, we were a three-day trek from the nearest phone. Each of us carried a backpack with 65 pounds of personal and communal gear. (I had one of three camp stoves.) A horse, wrangled by a tobacco-chewing beauty, one of our instructors, hauled the bulkier supplies. There were enough staples—grains, rice, beans, pasta, powdered drinks, trail mix—to keep us from starvation, even in an emergency. But we had to forage for greens and berries, and catch our protein. The mountain streams abounded with trout—cutthroat, rainbow, and golden—though it quickly became apparent who, among us, were the gifted fishermen. After one turn with a fly rod, I was assigned to K.P. I had impressed the group, somewhat boastfully, with my

culinary credentials, as a former private chef. But my only experience of camp cooking was making s’mores. The first time I was presented with a basket of fresh trout, a few were still wriggling. The actor, my tentmate, smacked them against a stone. I had never before felt vegetarian scruples, yet they were aroused by the butchering of a creature with such clear eyes, so recently alive and blissful in its element. I asked my prey for forgiveness. While getting water at the river, I had found some wild sorrel and a scallionlike plant that our guides assured me was safe to eat. I chopped them to make a stuffing. But first I had to gut the trout. I had often watched fishmongers perform this task, which had looked simple. The trick is a sharp knife. Mine was dull, and the taut belly resisted its point. Having whetted the blade, I finally slit the fish open, with surgical precision. Piety and sadism are more closely related than you might think, and it gave me a peculiar thrill to rip out the innards. Then I rinsed the cavity and, holding the fish by its tail, spin-dried it in the air. We had no paper products; I wasn’t about to sacrifice my towel. I stuffed the fish as I had gutted it—with bare hands—then sewed up the pale fish. (I had a darning needle in my pack, because my toes are awl-shaped, and we were supposed to bring only one pair of socks. But I could have used thistles.) Then I dusted the skin with cornmeal, and repeated the procedure with the rest of the day’s catch. Using a leaf, I spread a thin film of oil in a frying pan. When the fat started to hiss, I seared the trout for about five minutes on each side, until it was crisp. I had cut my thumb when the knife slipped in my slimy hands, and drops of blood deglazed he juices, which had a faint taste of Tabasco. I was sorry not to have a lemon, but a yellow moon had just risen, and the air was fresh. We were blissful in our element.

We’d love to hear from you! Send letters, cartoons, rants, limericks, or watercolors our way, and we’ll get them on the pages of The Leader. We’re easy to contact—try Facebook, Twitter @NOLSedu, email ( or the phone at (800) 710-NOLS.

Spring 2013


National Outdoor Leadership School 284 Lincoln Street Lander, WY 82520-2848 • (800) 710-NOLS THE LEADER IN WILDERNESS EDUCATION


“NOLS is responsible for impacting the lives of hundreds of thousands of people across the globe. Whether the impact is teaching leadership and teamwork, exposing people to new worlds, or offering career advancement opportunities with wilderness medicine, outdoor educator and instructor courses – no matter what the case, the result is always the same – NOLS changes lives.” Rachael Abler 2012 Pacific Northwest Outdoor Educator, scholarship recipient and donor.

C ampaign nOLS Endowing Our Core Values

Be a part of the change. Donate to Campaign NOLS today.

The Leader - Spring 2013