TAKING THE WFR ABOVE AND BEYOND: WMI GRADS APPLY THEIR SKILLS AFTER THE NEPAL EARTHQUAKES
JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS: A SPIDER’S TALE PAGE 12
NOLS FELLOWSHIPS PAVE CAREER PATHWAYS
CIRCLING THE GOLDEN MOUNTAINS PAGE 16
For Alumni of the National Outdoor Leadership School Fall 2015 • Vol. 31 No. 1
I recently found myself reflecting, looking through archives of The Leader. I came across this 1972 letter to readers from our founder Paul Petzoldt: “It seems like only yesterday that my brother Curley and I made the firs winter ascent of the Grand Teton in 1936. That probably seems like a onceupon-a-time to most of the graduates of the National Outdoor Leadership School. Most people think a person is a little nuts to climb a mountain in winter today. They thought we were completely crazy in those days. The general comments around Jackson among the cowboys were, ‘What the hell does the GD fool want to go up there for?’ and ‘Think about going up there when he could be drinking in the Cowboy Bar!’ “I have never felt such great elation, such beauty, as we had that night working our way up on skis around the base of the Middle Teton, with the snow lit up like dawn on the mountain sides, the shadows of the mountains silhouetting the glaciers and big snowfields, and the wisps of snow blowing off the summits in the moonlight. It was incredibly beautiful. I hope I can continue to go on the Teton climb until I’m 80 at least!” This excerpt stirred up my own memories of climbing the Grand (in the summer) with my children and letting them find the gift of the mountaintop elation Paul describes. Memories of instructing students welled up, as well: seeing their eyes light with the alpenglow of an early morning, watching their perspective on the expedition grow from incredulity to familiarity and delight. NOLS instructors across time aspire to relate the same depth of experience Paul felt on the Grand, which he was inspired to give NOLS students. I fin it interesting, though not the least bit surprising, that we often carry those aspirations beyond careers and into our roles as parents. In fact, former NOLS instructor and parent Aileen Brew wrote the same sentiment in this very issue. Perhaps the conclusion of summer and the reflecti e state of NOLS’ anniversary put our parental minds on the same track. As we celebrate NOLS’ 50th anniversary, the threads that weave our history and our impression on the world become clearer to me. Whether you’re a parent, a child with fond memories of adventures with your parents, a seasoned or aspiring instructor, you will find pieces of yourself in Aileen’s story, and in NOLS’ story. You’ll also find threads of NOLS—the threads that tie instructors to students to Paul to future students. Some might have seen NOLS as a crazy venture—some probably still do. But for countless graduates and the people they share their experiences with, it’s difficult to describe the elation and beauty we’ve all found along the way.
John Gans, NOLS Executive Director
Leader Editor Casey Adams Designers Liz Schultz Kristen Lovelace Alumni Relations Director Rich Brame NOLS Executive Director John Gans Creative Director Brad Christensen Art Director Eryn Pierce Editorial Board Bruce Palmer Anne McGowan Pip Coe Melissa Hemken Alisha Bube Molly Herber
November 2015 • Volume 31 • No.1 Published three times a year in April, August, 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 65,000 NOLS alumni. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call (307) 332-8800. Alumni can direct address changes to email@example.com or (800) 332-4280. For the most up-to-date information on NOLS, visit www.nols.edu or e-mail admissions@ nols.edu. The Leader is printed with soy-based inks in Portland, Ore., on paper using 10 percent post-consumer-recycled content. A paperless version of The Leader is available online at www.nols.edu/alumni/leader.
7 WILD SIDE OF MEDICINE: One Deep Breath
10 TAKING THE WFR ABOVE AND BEYOND: WMI GRADS APPLY THEIR SKILLS AFTER THE NEPAL EARTHQUAKES
8 ALUMNI PROFILE: The Adventure of Cooking
5 FIELD NOTES: Take The Kids. And Just Keep Going. 6 ISSUE ROOM: NOLS Stirs the Waters
9 ALUMNI PROFILE: NOLS ‘Opened Many Doors’
Three months before the earthquake struck, 17 students took a WFR. That course would change many lives.
20 ALUMNI TRIPS: Return to the Backcountry with Friends
WHO IS THIS?
21 REVIEWS: Love, Records, and Leaving No Trace
12 JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS: A SPIDER’S TALE
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
22 GEAR ROOM: Repreve Fibers
24 50 TH RECAP: NOLS honors Alumni at 50 th Celebration
One New Zealand Semester student may have discovered a new species of spider.
25 JABBERWOCKY: Catch up on your coursemates’ lives 26 SUSTAINABILITY: Reusing Gear
14 NOLS FELLOWSHIPS PAVE CAREER PATHWAYS
26 SCHOOL NOTES: Miss your home base? Catch up!
28 INSTRUCTOR PROFILE: Meet Doug Lowry
A new route to some dream careers starts with a fellowship with NOLS.
29 BELAY OFF: The Things We Carry 31 TRAVERSES: WFR, in Cartoons
16 COVER FEATURE: CIRCLING THE GOLDEN MOUNTAINS
Faced with an “unsolvable problem” deep in the mountains of Siberia, a team makes one of many adjustments.
ANSWER TO LAST ISSUE The answer to last issue’s “Who Is This?” is Diane Shoutis, our very own alumni relations coordinator and the person behind every issue’s “Who Is This?” She took her first course in 1968.
APRIL REZA Wild Side of Medicine, pg 7
MOLLY HERBER Alumni Profile, pg 8
JIM MARGOLIS Feature, pg 10
ZAND MARTIN Cover, pg 16
Reza is the Bilingual Outreach Coordinator at Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods. In August of 2014 and 2015, Stewards partnered with Latino Outdoors to establish their first bilingual family campouts at Pomo Canyon Campground in Sonoma Coast State Park.
Herber is a two-time NOLS mountaineering grad who loves the smell of her backpack and does her best writing before 7 a.m. When she's not scouting out the next post for the exciting new NOLS Blog, you can find her running and climbing on the rocks around Lander.
Margolis is a former instructor and program supervisor. He was a Wyoming Summer Semester student in 2003, at the wise suggestion of his father, a 1974 Fall Semester grad. He is currently exploring the concepts of sleeping indoors and city life.
Martin has been a NOLS instructor since 2008 and in his spare time travels widely on personal expeditions, often with other NOLSies. Find some of his writing and trip logs at www.zandmartin.com.
What do you think? Join the conversation. Send your feedback or conversation starters to email@example.com, post it to Facebook, tweet it (@NOLSedu), or give us at call at (800) 710-6657 ext 2254. Find back issues online at www.nols.edu/leader.
Letters to NOLS NOLSie By Extension
Leave No Scars
I am not an alumnus but in a way I have always felt I have been on a NOLS trip. Back in the 70s when I was going to school at the University of Minnesota, I went on a backpacking trip to the Beartooth Mountains with Dr. Leo McAvoy, who was a professor of Outdoor Recreation. It was not a NOLS trip but Dr. McAvoy was a NOLS instructor so, as I remember, the trip was structured similar to a NOLS trip. Paul Petzoldt’s book was required reading. The trip was an extraordinary experience for me. I loved the idea of carrying everything I needed on my back to enjoy and respect the wilderness. One day, we did a traverse across a river pulling ourselves above and over in a sling. I later learned Dr. McAvoy had taken my picture and used it in an article called Risk Recreation. Today my daughter, Bria, is a NOLS instructor. She loves it! When the anniversary NOLS magazine arrived at our home, I paged through it and started reading. To my great surprise I recognized my picture on page 32 from Leo McAvoy’s 1970s article, Risk Recreation. The picture had been in the NOLS archives. I couldn’t wait to tell Bria a picture of her mom was in the magazine! Years earlier, I was fortunate to meet Paul Petzoldt when he visited our town of Ely, Minn. It was a bit like meeting Ghandi for me! I had always heard about him, read his books and bought his headlamps [editor's note: there are no Petzoldt headlamps]. So, I have not been on a NOLS trip but I will always feel in a way that I did thanks to Dr. Leo McAvoy.
I enjoyed the outfitting comparison, but the fi e illustration is fla ed; we were carefully taught NOT to put rocks around the fi e because the rocks would then be scarred for hundreds of years. We usually dug holes, had the fi e within, then afterwards replaced the turf/soil/rocks into the hole. Regards, Henry Taves, Wind River Wilderness 1971
Dear Henry, Thanks for your note regarding the campfi e illustration on page 24 of the Summer 2015 Leader. The illustration represents the evolution of NOLS gear and field practices from 1965 onward. As you know and mention, specific fi e building techniques and Leave No Trace tactics have changed over time as research and our understanding of impact issues in different environments have matured. Thanks for your keen eye and fiel details from 1971! Rich Brame Co-author, NOLS Soft Paths, 4th edition
Happy 50th I wanted to thank you for the awesome 50 year celebration magazine you recently sent. It brought back so many fond memories. Twenty-plus years later, I am so grateful for my NOLS experience and can't wait to pass the opportunity to my children. While I don't think about the specific experience every day, NOLS values certainly make their way into my daily life. Wishing the NOLS community my best on this 50th anniversary year!
Karen Greenleaf, Wilderness Natural History 1993
TAKE THE KIDS. AND JUST KEEP GOING. BY AILEEN BREW, FORMER INSTRUCTOR
Michelle and I peer through the drizzle at the Middle Fork of Pole Creek. The far bank is 75 feet away. The water is sluggish, but up to my hips. Which means it will be at Michelle’s waist. And up to my 9-year-old’s armpits. Our girls are happily unconcerned. My daughters, Kate (11) and Annika (9), and Magdalena, Michelle’s 11-year-old, are enjoying their snacks, oblivious to the rain, the cold, the lumpy gray sky, the deep river crossing, and our two llamas humming anxiously in the background. It’s their fifth day of hiking in wet rain gear through cold downpours. They’re getting used to this. As Michelle and I survey the river, thinking up a plan, a voice plaintively whines in my head: what happened to the bright wildfl wers covering sun-drenched meadows? The happy kids hiking in shorts as puffy cumulus clouds float y? We are on day fi e of a four-week trip across Wyoming’s beautiful Wind River Mountains. If it rains for the next three weeks … I can’t even finish that thought Michelle, a fellow former NOLS instructor, and I have taken our girls into the backcountry since they were born. With our husbands, we have hiked with them, skied with them, pulled them, carried them, ferried them and paddled them through the backcountry. We have suffered endless nights camping with
The magic of potato pearls. Magdalena, Annika, and Kate. Courtesy of Aileen Brew
toddlers who wake, ready to play, or cry, the minute you step inside a tent. And now it seems to be paying off. The kids add layers when they’re cold. They run off to pee by themselves, and the miles they hike exceed the number of M&M’s needed as incentives. Most importantly, they express instant dismay when the day comes to hike out: “Already? We just got here! We can’t leave now!” We decide on a plan. I piggyback the girls across the river. Michelle ferries packs. We return and cross with the llamas just as the skies open up. It hails furiously, a wet grand finale Michelle and I cross the river a combined 14 times. We are soaked but happy to have this hurdle behind us. The girls, no wetter than before, are also happy. We shoulder our packs, dole out Jolly Ranchers, and continue to Spider Lakes. This trip grew out of our desire to take our children into the mountains and let the days unfold as they had during our years of instructing for NOLS. As a working parent of two busy kids, I appreciate more than ever the amazing simplicity of my field days and the absolute gift of a clear, alpine morning with no agenda. I want my girls to learn some important things: I want them to be comfortable outside—no matter the conditions. I want them to have the ability to suck it up when things are lousy and keep going. I want them to know the joy of the simplest pleasures—dry socks, a hot cup of tea, a smile from a friend, a bright fl wer next to the trail. I want them to experience the satisfaction of summiting a peak, catching a fish, cooking a good dinner, or weathering a fie ce storm. I want my girls to work as a team, to offer a hand across a creek or a word of encouragement to a sad sister. I want them to be grateful for all they have: these beautiful wild areas and the time and security to enjoy them. That afternoon, the sun came out for two glorious hours, and we dried almost everything. We fell asleep in fluffy bags, surrounded by dry gear. Never mind that we woke the next day to rain, sleet, and snow. After 10 days, the low-pressure system moved out and we had cumulus clouds, fl wer-covered meadows, and clear nights. We covered over 100 miles walking home to Lander. The days unfolded with climbing passes, painting, cooking, playing in the water and woods, reading aloud at night, hiking, and bouldering up peaks to look, awestruck, back over our path from the north. That hard morning when we crossed Pole Creek became just another day in the mountains. Its simple, powerful messages are worth remembering: The rain won’t last forever. You have your home on your back and your family by your side. These girls can deal with anything. Keep going.
NOLS STIRS THE WATERS BY EVAN REIMONDO, ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP COORDINATOR
Downgraded streams (in red) in the Middle Fork’s headwaters include the upper reaches of Stough Creek and Tayo Creek, among others. (Note: Not drawn to scale). Illustration: Liz Schultz
NOLS is contesting a recent rule implemented by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) that resulted in the downgrade of water quality standards for 76 percent of Wyoming streams. Many of these streams meander the lands used by NOLS courses in the Wind River, Bighorn, Wyoming, Teton, and Absaroka Mountains and the Red Desert. NOLS is working with outdoor recreationists, businesses, and educational institutions to maintain the highest standards for Wyoming streams. The DEQ’s decision, called the Categorical Use Attainability Analysis (UAA), allows fi e times greater E. coli concentrations in streams of less than six cubic
feet per second (CFS) average annual fl w. E. coli is a bacteria that originates from human and animal feces and can cause gastrointestinal illness, and sometimes death, when ingested. These regulatory changes resulted from a categorical downgrade of streams from primary to secondary contact recreation standards. Primary contact recreation includes swimming, bathing, and use by children—where ingestion of water is likely. Secondary contact recreation includes wading or fishing where fullbody immersion is unlikely. The rule effectively assumes people can’t and won’t use these streams for primary recreation because they are small or remote.
QUESTION What iconic American peak did the Obama Administration recently rename by executive order? What year did NOLS first attempt to climb this mountain? Answer on page 25.
The DEQ’s change in management standards does not increase E. coli concentrations in these streams, but it changes our ability to restore the streams should they become degraded. The rule raises the threshold for regulatory enforcement— there must be fi e times more fecal contamination before the DEQ is required to act. For NOLS and other backcountry users, this runs counter to the pristine nature of streams we expect in the wilderness. Following a review of the UAA and requests from the Wyoming Outdoor Council and NOLS, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had the DEQ host a public hearing. NOLS encouraged participation, and over 100 people attended the Sept. 16 hearing. NOLS was among 33 individuals and organizations to give oral testimony, and many others submitted written comments. NOLS requested the UAA be redacted and significantl revised and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management wildlands be removed from its scope. Significantl , and in line with NOLS’ requests, the two affected USFS regions submitted a letter requesting all waters of USFS Wilderness, Wilderness Study Areas, and Wild and Scenic Rivers and tributaries be removed from the categorical downgrade. The Northern Arapaho Business Council submitted a letter requesting waters on tribal lands be removed. The DEQ is expected to take several weeks to process and respond to comments before resubmitting the UAA to the EPA.
ONE DEEP BREATH BY APRIL REZA, WILDERNESS FIRST AID ‘14
This June, I was on my way to work via the back roads I prefer to take. As I came to an intersection, all the traffic ahead of me had come to a complete stop. I could see the intersection and the debris strewn across it from the four cars that had been totaled just moments before. I sat in my vehicle assessing the situation, and I spotted a woman about 20 yards away in her vehicle. There were three other vehicles involved in the collision, but I could see she was bleeding and in the most pain. There were other people on the scene, with cell phones in hand, calling for paramedics. As I sat in my vehicle, I witnessed this woman begin to raise her voice and become a bit more panicked. Although people were on the scene, no one was directly attending this woman. I took a deep breath and confidentl decided to approach her myself. I walked over and introduced myself, telling her I had training in wilderness first aid, and asked if it was okay to place my hand on her forehead and to assess her. I determined that she had bitten her tongue and was badly whiplashed. Her 8-year-old son was also in the car, which had lost two tires and was leaking all sorts of engine fluids. Because the engine was off, I concluded that it was safe to continue the assessment within the vehicle. As I checked the patient, I provided support for her left arm, and assured her and her son that help was on the way. By keeping my hand on her forehead and asking her to continue to breathe, I helped her to calm down while
we waited for the paramedics. When the paramedics arrived on the scene, they asked me to help stabilize her until they were ready to transport her to the gurney. Once they were ready to transport her to the gurney, I retreated from the situation. It took me a moment to realize what I had just done, but I was so thankful to have had the training that made me feel prepared to help in some way. I want to extend my gratitude to you, our instructors from NOLS, and the donors who made it possible for me to receive this training last November.
Upon reading this account, WMI Curriculum Director Tod Schimelpfenig noted the significance of April’s action: “I think that what is most impressive and important here is that April felt empowered and confident to act. Unlike the other people on the scene she had the skills, and the initiative to help. This is fundamentally what we want every student to leave a WMI course with—confidence, competence, and empowerment to act.”
Scene Size Up Life Threats ABCDE Head to Toe
Problem List and Plan Monitor
Reza had the confidence and skills to approach a patient at the scene of an accident. Illustration: Liz Schultz
WILDERNESS MEDICINE QUIZ WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP IN THE SCENE-SIZE UP? A. looking for hazards. C. looking for medical alert tags. B. measuring vital signs. D. triaging multiple patients. Answer on page 26.
THE ADVENTURE OF COOKING BY MOLLY HERBER, WRITER
Galyean has created a niche career that brings her joy—and recently fame. Courtesy of Mary Brent Galyean
M ary Brent Galyean is an unusual chef: she rarely uses running water and she prefers cooking on an open flame to an indoor stove. Her kitchen might be in Antarctica, the Andes, or a cliff side in Hawaii. And she makes her ricotta cheese out of powdered milk. “Real chefs will turn their noses up at that really quickly,” she said, but that’s the way she likes it. Galyean is a self-titled expedition chef, a job that she invented to pursue two of her passions: outdoor adventure and creating delicious meals in the outdoors. A graduate of NOLS courses in Kenya and the Wind River Range, Galyean credits NOLS with her love of cooking and adventure. “The great thing about NOLS is that once you’re on it, you’re on it … nobody’s sending a chopper for you … You are forced to see what you are capable of.” With this spirit of exploration,
Galyean started cooking for expeditions all over the world, and she even competed on the television show Chopped this summer. It all grew out of self preservation on her course in the Wind River Range. “I hated getting up early to get water, I just hated it,” Galyean said. “But [my coursemates] started taking my tarp down on top of me … and so I’d say, ‘I’m not getting water, but I’ll learn to cook cinnamon rolls.’” Then, during her semester in Kenya, “my love for cooking outdoors fl urished … we had enough time and we were in enough different environments for me to really play around with it,” she refl cted, “and I kind of turned into the group cook.” NOLS has long been a part of Galyean’s family. Before getting a driver’s license, she and her siblings had to learn, through NOLS courses, “how every small movement we made
affected our safety and the safety of those around us.” The love for cooking in the outdoors, born on her courses, has contributed to Galyean’s success as an expedition chef, which she explains in this way: “I typically don’t use any electricity or running water. Some chefs are fancy and like those kinds of things, I prefer to not have either, really.” In order to pursue both of her passions, Galyean will “exchange being a cook for the adventure.” The guiding force behind her spirit of exploration, Galyean said, “comes back to NOLS in the Wind Rivers. You wake up, you pick where you’d like to camp next in the general vicinity, and you find a water source that you hope is still there … and that’s kind of how I live my life. I wake up every morning and I find my water source … and I set a path that I hope gets me there, and if not, then I hope I find an alternate route. And so [NOLS] taught me to remain safe while remaining fl xible.” When asked if she still uses any tricks from her NOLS courses in her cooking, she replied immediately, “The most important ingredient that I picked up from NOLS was the spice kit. My spice kit is so clutch.” She added, “I learned that there isn’t anything you can’t make better with garlic salt and onion salt.” No matter where Galyean takes her spice kit, she always carries a little NOLS inspiration with her: “On top of every single stack of books, every place I go, the top book is the NOLS Cookery. Every single place.” “I’m never done being a NOLS student. So I’ll be back, don’t you worry,” she concluded.
NOLS ‘OPENED MANY DOORS’ BY CASEY ADAMS, PR SPECIALIST AND WRITER
K it DesL auriers has a calling to exploration. As an adult, she firstanswered that calling at age 19, when she spent a semester in France, during which she backpacked through the Alps. “I met some inspirational people living above a ski village in Switzerland who kept adventure-travel books depicting far-off lands on the shelves of their cabins,” she recalls. “I realized that with some formal training to supplement my desire to see the world, I, too, could see these faroff places.” That’s where NOLS—and a NOLS scholarship—came on the scene. DesLauriers applied for a NOLS scholarship to make her 1991 Semester in Alaska possible. “I wanted as much experience in as adventurous of a location as I could possibly get,” she explained, adding, “That course fulfilled my dream and opened many doors.” One particular moment on this course ultimately led to her recent skimountaineering expedition for which she was named one of National Geographic’s 2015 Adventurers of the Year. “As we hiked along the Chickaloon River toward timberline, we spotted a pack of wolves on the opposite side of the raging water. I mentioned how remote we were, and one of my instructors mused, ‘If you really want to see remote, you should check out the Brooks Range in far northern Alaska. The mountains aren’t as big as they are around here, but it’s so far out there and really wild,’” DesLauriers recalled him saying. “I knew I wanted to someday see the Brooks Range,” she declared. Last year, she made her third trip to the Brooks Range and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Her mission
was to summit both Isto and Chamberlin mountains with GPS units to determine which is highest and test a new technique for measuring glacial depletion. In the time between these recent expeditions in the Brooks Range and her NOLS course, DesLauriers summited many peaks and explored the world over. She became the two-time world freeskiing champion. She became the first person ever to make ski descents of the tallest peak on each continent and authored a book, Higher Love: Skiing the Seven Summits, about the endeavor. DesLauriers led a boat-based ski-mountaineering adventure based in Prince William Sound, also inspired by her
NOLS experience. She also made the first female solo ski descent of the Grand Teton and instilled in her two daughters an appreciation for sleeping under the stars. She plans to take her family along on her next adventure in the Refuge. Since DesLauriers first visited the Brooks Range and Arctic Refuge in 2010, the “pure, raw wilderness” captured her heart and has led to her current work advocating for full protection of that pristine landscape. DesLauriers’ continued efforts to reach her highest self and to help others do the same—as she learned while leading the student expedition on her NOLS course—has helped shape her vision of how she fits into this world that she so loves to explore.
DesLauriers has climbed the Seven Summits with skis on her back—and skied down them all. Andy Bardon
TAKING THE WFR ABOVE AND BEYOND WMI GRADS APPLY THEIR SKILLS AFTER THE NEPAL EARTHQUAKES
BY JIM MARGOLIS, FORMER INSTRUCTOR
On A pril 25, 2015, R ajesh L ama and the two clients he was leading on a trek in the Langtang Valley in northern Nepal stopped for lunch in the small village of Pahiro (meaning landslide in Nepali). At 11:56 p.m. local time, a 7.8-magnitude earthIn the wake of what quake struck. The epicenter eventually would was just 40 miles away. become Nepal’s “The earthquake triggered deadliest earthquake, a large land-and-rock slide from above them, which wiped these recent graduates away the village,” Lama’s had the unfortunate girlfriend Bronwyn Russel opportunity to apply said. “Luckily, his group, as their new first-aid skills. well as approximately 30 others who were in the village at the time, were able to make it to the cover of some thick jungle nearby.” In a moment that would have made a WMI instructor proud, Lama managed to hold on to one item as he ran for safety from the landslide: his first aid kit. In fact, just three months earlier, Lama was among 17 students on a Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course in Kakani, Nepal, 15 miles north of Kathmandu. Himalayan Medics, a search-andrescue organization in Nepal, sponsored the course, taught by Anna and Evan Horn. Thirteen of the students were Nepali, all working as guides in a variety of disciplines including trekking, high-altitude mountaineering, and mountain biking. In the wake of what eventually would become Nepal’s deadliest earthquake, these recent graduates had the unfortunate opportunity to apply their new first-aid skills. “Immediately after the earthquake, Lama treated one man who had gotten stuck in the landslide area who had broken his leg,” Russel said. “He had someone watch the loose earth above him and went onto the landslide to pull the man out. Once he was in a safer location, he used tree branches to splint his leg and made a makeshift stretcher out of branches and jackets.” Shyam Limbu, a professional mountain-bike guide for Kathmandu-based GNARLY, was also a student on the Kakani WFR course. After the earthquake, he became involved with a relief project Lama organized called Community Empowerment for First Aid Response (CE-FAR). Two other students from the course, Jagan
Timilsina and Anuj Adikhary, were also frequently a part of CE-FAR projects. “Our main concern was there would be a lot of [victims] with wounds, broken bones, cuts, bruises, etc. So, we decided to treat them and also teach them how to keep [the injuries] clean and safe. We went to villages, which were inaccessible by roads. We took medicines, first-aid kits, and food for the victims, [and] also made sure that we taught them how to address first-aid situations,” Limbu explained. Their WFR coursemate, Tenzeeng Sherpa, was in Kathmandu when the earthquake struck. “Even though it was climbing season, I was very upset from [the] 2014 Everest disaster, so I had cancelled my expedition for 2015 on Everest,” said Sherpa, who guides for Professional Trek and Expedition. “After the earthquake, I was very active,” he said. “I was helping around Kathmandu for three days, then I travelled to Laprak (one of most severely hit villages), and then to Techhim, Rasuwa, and Sindupalchowk. I encountered many people with trauma, minor cuts, dislocations, and also with flu.” These examples of excellent patient care, tireless leadership, teaching through outreach, and hard work came as no surprise to instructor Anna Horn. “They were the most invested and committed students I have ever had the pleasure of working with,” she said. “Every one of them [who were in Nepal at the time of the earthquakes] were involved in disaster relief, search and rescue, and patient care.” Author’s note: I was unable to get in contact with everyone from the WFR course who helped with the earthquake relief efforts. NOLS would like to recognize by name all of those who helped for their exceptional efforts: Ang Gyaljen Sherpa, Jagan Timilsina, Shyam Limbu, Anuj Adhikary, Sudan Shrestha, Nima Lama Tamang, Tenzeeng Sherpa, Binod Rai, Tashi Chhiring Sherpa, Fura Chheten Sherpa, Rajesh Lama, Pasang Bhote, and Sange Dorjee Sherpa.
Above: The skills learned on this WFR saved lives and equipped citizens with confidence and essential skills. Left: Students practice treating a wound during a Wilderness Medicine Institute course in Nepal. Evan Horn Fall 2015
JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS 12
A SPIDER’S TALE
BY CASEY ADAMS, PR SPECIALIST AND WRITER
“I was hiking away from a camp to find a relaxing spot in the canyon to sit and read when I noticed a very well-camouflaged spider moving about on a boulder in a curious way,” recalls Jack Wanamaker of a rather fateful moment on his 2012 Semester in Australia. He had been photographing all of the insects and spiders he encountered on the course, having an acute interest in “the unique tropical savannah/forest ecosystem of the Kimberley region,” when he spotted this particular arachnid. ROBERT WHYTE, OF THE “I was able to discern QUEENSLAND MUSEUM, that it was a jumping THOUGHT THIS SPIDER spider,” he noted, “but I had a feeling it was “WAS ALMOST something special.” CERTAINLY A NEW Jumping spiders, SPECIES AND Wanamaker explained, PERHAPS OF AN hunt and stalk prey rather UNDESCRIBED GENUS ” than employing webs. Accordingly, they have developed stout bodies, short legs, and excellent eyesight—accompanied by large binocular eyes. “However, this particular jumping spider breaks all of those rules; it has a thin body, very long wiry legs, and builds webs,” he explained with great specificity.
This particular jumping spider breaks rules and builds webs. Stock photo
Wanamaker was taking a year off from school for adventure and the chance to see a part of the world he might never otherwise see. NOLS Australia could afford him both, and more. For the rest of his course, Wanamaker continued collecting photographic specimens and diving into wildlife and biology conversations and classes. Upon graduating and going home, he set about identifying the many living things he had photographed. “All of the specimens that I couldn’t identify using field guides I posted to Project Noah, a website dedicated to fl ra and fauna
Jack Wanamaker poses in Australia during his NOLS course. Photo courtesy of Jack Wanamaker
identifi ation," he said. “Several Project Noah users commented on the spider that it could be a new species and that they had never seen anything similar to it.” So, Wanamaker sought out experts on Western Australia’s jumping spiders. Robert Whyte, of the Queensland Museum, thought this spider “was almost certainly a new species and perhaps of an undescribed genus,” Wanamaker recalled. From there, Wanamaker was put in touch with another expert, Marek Zabka. He identified Wanamaker’s “something special” as Megaloastia minae, a newly described species with its own new genus that Zabka had originally discovered in 1995 and seen added to the World Spider Catalog in 2007. By 2012, there were still no photographs of this species in the public domain—until Wanamaker went for a stroll on his NOLS course. But the story doesn’t end here. “The spider I photographed looks quite different in its patterns and markings than the spider in Zabka’s drawings, so it is my belief that it is a unique species within the Megaloastia genus,” Wanamaker explained. “This topic was debated for some time between myself, Zabka, and Whyte, but without a physical specimen, it is very difficult to declare a new species.” But Wanamaker isn’t done just yet. He has since returned to school and spent this past summer conducting research in New Mexico, including collecting and photographing spiders. He intends to enroll in a graduate program focused on ecology or biology. “If I have the chance to return to this region of Australia, I will without a doubt search for this spider again in hopes of collecting more data about its strange behavior, and perhaps differentiating species within the genus,” Wanamaker promised.
Left: Biology is a key component of NOLS courses like Jack's. Brian Hensien Insert: the spider Jack discovered. Jack Wanamaker
NOLS FELLOWSHIPS PAVE CAREER PATHWAYS BY MOLLY HUNT, ALUMNI AND DEVELOPMENT INTERN
Some students find their way to NOLS–and their interest and career in the outdoors–through Gateway Partner scholarships.
Students form a connection to NOLS and the outdoor industry on their NOLS Expedition course.
The fellowship allows students to take action on that interest, providing access, guidance, mentoring, and professional experience.
The fellowship program was designed in the face of important diversity goals and has made a difference, particularly to students of color who have former fellows as instructors. It’s a cycle!
A key piece of the fellowship is finding a path that suits career goals.
For many years, NOLS has encouraged and enabled students from all types of backgrounds and financial situations to participate on NOLS courses. A more recent method, the NOLS Fellowship Program, also focuses on incorporating diversity into the school in a more enduring way. The fellowship program is committed and designed to diversify the staff of NOLS. The fellowship program is unique to NOLS in that it directly provides training, tools, networks, and assistance to people of color who are interested in pursuing a career in outdoor education. This program, founded in 2011, hires people of color to work at NOLS locations for 16 weeks, with the intent of preparing them to pursue full-time employment at NOLS. To further the effort to inspire more people of color to connect with the outdoors, fellows become ambassadors of the school and are able to share their NOLS experiences within their own communities. Currently, there are four fellows working across the country. Past and current fellows believe that there is true value in incorporating more diversity into NOLS’ staff. Cristina Edwards, the former fellow at NOLS Rocky Mountain, and an instructor in training, has worked this summer on special projects that she said “provide a human connection, especially with Gateway students.” Gateway students receive scholarships to take NOLS courses through NOLS partnerships with their mentoring organization. Edwards said that one of her roles as a fellow was to help these students find a sense of belonging as they arrive at FELLOWSHIPS ALLOW YOU a predominantly Caucasian TO NETWORK, NOLS campus. She also MEET PROFESSIONALS, believes her presence can help students feel like the AND GET TO KNOW HOW outdoors is accessible to THE ORGANIZATION them, regardless of their skin WORKS BEFORE YOU color. Edwards has come to COMMIT TO A realize the shared experiences LONGER-TERM POSITION on a NOLS course are a great opportunity to foster positive experiences with people of diverse cultures, ethnicities, gender, sexual orientations, etc. “The differences we separate others by in the real world disappear in the outdoors,” Edwards said. Austin Sandoval, the fellow at NOLS Teton Valley, spent his summer working on similar diversity initiatives. He has formed a connection with the local Hispanic resource center, spoken on behalf of NOLS, informed them of scholarships, and even helped host a community event. “I am intrinsically motivated about moving forward in every way possible that I can to work in the outdoors,” Sandoval said. The fellowship program has accomplished many of its goals since its start four years ago. Marina Fleming was part of the fellowship program, and as a result, has found professional success at the school. Fleming said that
Former Rocky Mountain fellow Christina Sallis. Kirk Rasmussen
after her course in 2012, she was interested in working for the outdoor industry but didn’t know where to begin. This is exactly what the fellowship program is designed for. It creates access, specifically for people of color, to begin a profession in the outdoor community. Fleming was hired as a fellow in May 2013 and spent three months at NOLS Alaska. With that experience and some personal networking, she sought full-time employment with NOLS and is now a NOLS Professional Training account manager and field instructor. “Fellowships allow you to network, meet professionals, and get to know how the organization works before you commit to a longer-term position,” Fleming said. NOLS Diversity and Inclusion Manager Rachael Price is making moves to improve that post-fellowship job search process, specifi ally by creating a guided pathway within NOLS. Price said that she is working to make sure that the 16-week fellowship program is “linked to longterm planning to develop career paths for [fellows] who decide that they want to work for NOLS.” As the summer came to a close, Price was advising current fellows as they set future employment goals. According to Price, if all goes according to plan, three out of the four fellows will be working in the field as NOLS instructors next summer.
Left: The NOLS Fellowship Program flow. Artwork by Kristen Lovelace
Circling the Golden Mountains
BY ZAND MARTIN, INSTRUCTOR
“This appears to be an unsolvable problem.” We are on the Siberian frontier, with touring skis and backpacks spread across the rim of a splintered and worn concrete foundation. Wind enough to knock down a careless walker howls through the mélange of ruin and desperation around us. The sound wind makes blowing on a phone or mic, the static-like, white noise roar that makes most of us recoil and grab our ears, is our reality. The constant, rippling blast snaps jacket sleeves in a painful staccato and tears away most words and all but the most solidly storm-proofed items. We are shouting at each other: “It’s just not here.” We are in this I had just returned forgotten corner from scouting up the hill to hear Brian’s conclusions of the world’s on the absence of our fuel largest country to bottle. Our driver had just circumnavigate disappeared around the hillside after we had swept the Altai Range— the truck and proclaimed The Golden Mountains. it empty. We should have checked again. It is April and Arctic cold. Before us lies an unknown range still clearly in the grip of winter, and without fuel our ability to respond to our environment, let alone any potential crisis, is minimal. We are in this forgotten corner of the world’s largest country to circumnavigate the Altai Range—The Golden Mountains—by bicycle and ski. The Altai rise at the northern edge of the vast endorheic basins of Central Asia and constitute one of the most pristine inhabited montane ecosystems on Earth. Their location, structure, and history have conspired to create here a tremendous, unmatched bio- and ethnodiversity. It is a place of cultural and ecological convergence. The Altai stand at the junction of steppe, desert, and taiga, and straddle the region where Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia, and Russia come together. Physically, they constitute a diverse, 1,600-kilometer-long, partially glaciated range that rises to almost 15,000 feet. We fl w to the heart of Siberia, strapped touring skis to mountain bikes, and set off on this 4,000-kilometer circular journey through desert, steppe, taiga, and alpine spaces. Within days, it was obvious this trip would be an exercise in absurd challenge: we skin and cycle through a hilariously contrarian landscape with an expectation that the next thing will almost certainly go wrong. Our driver had never been to Old Beltir—he appeared spooked by the decaying outpost—and disappeared soon after discharging us. A massive earthquake in 2003 leveled the village and tore apart the surrounding steppe and valley. In Old Beltir’s place is a sad collection of abandoned buildings, log huts sinking into gravel, and few signs of habitation. I ask the three people I meet to call back to Koch Agash to see if we can get our driver to turn around. One boy, his cheeks raw from sun, wind, and some childhood accident, asks for 10 roubles, a pittance, and then hands me a scratched pink Nokia with no battery. I try the town administration building, but it is decayed, barred, and padlocked.
This is an unsolvable problem. Before us rises the Yuzhno Chuysky—the South Chuya Range—and our planned route for this traverse rises from Old Beltir to a high plateau, and then up the Elangash Valley to a pass at 10,200 feet. Beyond, the Dara River drains glaciers to a dirt supply track where we hope to flag down a truck supplying outlying villages beyond the range. That track is 60 kilometers away. We tabulate our edible calories, considering speed and the unknowable conditions ahead. We decide to move into the hills, knowing backward would be as difficult and risky as forward. With the safety net of a working stove lost, we will have to go faster, lighter, and more carefully. We leave our pasta on a doorstep and walk through a cluster of homes with smoke blasting horizontally from warped stovepipes. We march into a treeless, rocky, beautiful desolation.
On the old Austrian Road, knee- and waist-deep river crossings are complicated by ski and bike gear. Courtesy of Zand Martin
The following day, we pause in a blizzard 700 meters below our high point. Conditions have been deteriorating since morning as snow and sleet mixes with the 40-knot gusts in a horizontal white parallax. At the head of the valley, a momentary break in the storm reveals a seasonally-abandoned shepherd’s hut groaning in the wind, and we stop to eat inside. Visibility drops, and we transition to jackets, hats, and then sleeping bags in a devolving crawl to comfort and lethargy. The pass is no longer an option. We sleep on platforms as spindrift leaks in through cracked plaster
Left: Brian goes gloveless on a rare warm day on the Chuysky Trakt in Siberia. Courtesy of Zand Martin
and loose logs, and the stacks of filthy sheep skins in the corners. The Big Picture We had cycled for two weeks before attempting the South Chuya traverse, adjusting our systems as we went. We carried camping gear and town gear, an iPad and cotton pants, cell phones and bike gear, and on top of that 18 pounds of ski gear; with food, fuel, and water, we were 90 pounds from the wheels up. Our first pass on the Chuysky Trakt was low by most standards, but it behaved We skinned up in our minds like one much higher. the abandoned An alpine feel pervaded, with rimed larches, persistent flurries, and a side in silence, road slick with the previous night’s enjoying storm. The sky considered sunshine, moments of but a wet cold held, and we cranked uphill in a seesaw battle with sweat clarity in the and chill. cold fog. Atop the pass—Seminsky—the trees fell back and a small, mostly empty line of market stalls and few ails (small timber huts) populated the crest. A man was roasting shashlyk—skewered meat—beside an ail, and he waved us inside. A blast of heat announced the brick stove at the center of the octagonal log structure. It was a tiny cafe. The man returned and slid the tender mutton off the skewer and heaped finely sliced onion on top. Hot, sugary tea in plastic cups added to the ensemble, and a plate of dry bread. Our first pass was complete, and with unexpected luxury. Across the pass, we pushed bikes along a snow-drifted ribbon of cracked asphalt to the half-abandoned Soviet-era ski base atop Seminsky. We nearly missed it in the low cloud, but the sun had made an effort revealing a few cuts on the mountainside. A blue lodge stood boarded and drifted over. Most of the lift towers had thrown off their cables and sprouted from the slope in rust and scale, but one T-bar still turned and a handful of people were taking turns on the unattended lift. We skinned up the abandoned side in silence, enjoying moments of clarity in the cold fog. The descent was quick but soft, new snow on spring Siberian crust.
Brian looks at the five peaks that form the Tavan Bogd massif and mark the border of Mongolia, Russia, and China. Courtesy of Zand Martin
The road then dropped down and we pedaled our way over plateau and valley back to the Katun River and a cold, dry steppe climate. The road was easy to navigate: if you leave the spiderwebbed asphalt, you are going the wrong way. This 500-kilometer line runs through the heart of the range, and we followed it over passes and through small log villages clustered around rivers. Confederations of sheep and goats wandered thawing hillsides under the watch of dog and shepherd. Cows and pigs marched the paddocks closer to home, though the pigs faded from prominence as we transitioned to a Muslim majority near the Mongolian and Kazakhstan border. The Altai is a fascinating cultural mosaic that in its borders and ethnic map tells a story of pre-modern migration, imperial governance, and resource scarcity. The four nation-states that today share the Altai view their share as peripheral to the larger country and treat it as such. Despite the political frontiers, this is a single mountain range. Tibetan Buddhism, Russian Orthodox, Islam, and Tengrist shamanism all exist here, and somewhere in each there is a reverence for this land; it is holy, magic. As we left the Katun Valley for the last time and began to ascend the Chuya, we passed our last church in Aktash village and entered the Chuya steppe, a barren, high-altitude grassland hemmed in by mountains. Entering the frontier town of Koch Agash, we passed our first mosque, a humble green affair with a crescent moon of beaten sheet metal on the peak of the thick-timbered hall. Here on the frontier, we planned our first extended foray into the mountains. Back to the Problem By morning in the South Chuya, the wind had shifted to our backs and calmed, and six inches had fallen. Blue sky appeared in splotches. We traded hiking boots for skis and moved up toward the pass. All was ice, rock, and snow, and with no way to make water, we had a three-liter window in which to reach open water on the Dara River beyond the pass. We moved quickly past the frozen headwater lakes of the Elangash, past the snow-covered excavations of Bronze-Age tombs said to occupy the terrace between lake and mountain, and up the final approach slope. Peaks surrounded us with limitless options for descents. We wished for fuel, more food, and a week to dig in and ski. But time was short. We found evidence of low stability. Given that we were in a remote range in south Siberia with a small team, we decided to turn back, skiing from where we were without crossing the slopes above. The margins were too small, the weather easily -10°F. We relayed down 400 vertical feet of soft,
The Rashinn Dava pass marked the high-point of the mountain route through Mongolia. Courtesy of Zand Martin
well-earned turns. The next day, we saw a massive crown and debris field on a similar aspect and angled slope as the one we decided not to ascend. From the pass we skied down, dropping 1,000 meters of lowangle terrain and dodging the emergent gorges of the Dara River. The river eventually came to the surface below a large cornice, and we stuck our heads in the ice cave and drank deeply. We laughed, but it was unsettled: did we make a good decision, or did we get away with something? That night, we dug in and kindled a fire. Dusk was clear, calm, and cold. In the frosty twilight, I ambled out of the tent in boot shells one last time and was stopped by temperatures far, far, below zero and a panoply of stars and celestial bodies beyond anything I’ve seen. It would be another six weeks before we closed our loop around the range, with thousands of kilometers skied, cycled, and walked. We pedaled on compass bearings across featureless steppe, negotiated snow-bound passes and rutted dirt tracks with washed-out bridges, skinned on camel-packed trails, and navigated Chinese markets, Russian Orthodox saints’ parades, and Mongolian sheep drives. We traced a ring around that distant range and crossed boundaries marked in razor wire, altitude, snowlines and timberlines, peoples, animals, and a dozen other signifiers. The frontiers blended together, as Kazakh herders drove tractors from China to Kazakhstan hills, Chinese poachers walked unguarded ridgelines, and glaciated peaks offered flanks to three countries. They blended, save the stark cuts of wire and fence that nervous states impose. By ski and bike we moved thousands of kilometers through the four countries that share the Altai Mountains. Roads petered out in rutted grasslands and zippered up passes still peppered with old snow. We drank gallons of tea—black, green, and yak milk. We traversed Arctic landscapes of endless frozen mountains, and, as spring advanced, traced exhausting lines through taiga, steppe, desert, and alpine meadow. That last night on the Chuya was long and wakeful, and we eagerly descended into spring the following morning. We reached the road by 1 p.m., having completed in three days what we hoped to have six to accomplish: a 60 kilometer crossing of the South Chuya Range. Was it the first ski traverse? We had no idea. We sat on packs, swaddled in jackets under a cold Siberian sun, and waited. Five hours later, as we contemplated the possibility of another night out with a handful of raisins between us, an ancient Kamaz truck rattled over the rise. The driver, Sasha, threw our gear in the bed
and laughed as we pressed hands to the vents of the robust heater in the cab. For more stories, photos, and video, check out www. circlingthegoldenmountains.com The Future of the Golden Mountains Despite being a single geologic and biotic entity, the Altai is split between four countries. Until quite recently, the periphery of the People’s Republic of China and the former Soviet Bloc was off-limits to foreigners and hidden from the rest of the world. Now, four nation-states share the Altai, and in this land driven by international borders, transboundary conservation efforts struggle to gain traction. The Altai is home to threatened species endemic to Central Asia including the snow leopard, argali sheep, and Siberian ibex, as well as noteworthy indicator species. Energy policy and climate-impacts detail the story of changing biodiversity in the Altai, and efforts to protect certain species or ecosystems necessarily impact industry and energy policy. The Altai Mountains also sit on a sensitive convergence of bioregions, making the area a key climate refugium. One of the key debates in the region is an energy-transport agreement between Gazprom, a Russian natural gas company, and the China National Petroleum Corporation to explore the construction of a pipeline through the heart of the UNESCO-designated “Golden Mountains of Altai.” The only feasible route for this pipeline goes over a high mountain pass in a seismically active area, and the project only has an estimated 30year lifespan. The impacts on the Ukok Plateau and the Belukha region, arguably the twin hearts of the region, could be substantial. Gazprom recently postponed the pipeline to at least 2016 but has not abandoned plans to pursue it.
ALUMNI TRIPS Are you interested in returning to NOLS in the backcountry but can’t take weeks off work? Do you want to share your NOLS experience with your non-grad friends and family? Do you want to adventure and network with like-minded, outdoorsy adults who know the meaning of EB? If you bellowed, “Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!” then join us on an alumni trip in 2016.
NOLS offers short backcountry trips for our alumni and guests. These trips have top-quality instructors, and though they aren’t guided adventures, 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, non-refundable 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 www.nols.edu/alumni.
ROCK CLIMBING AT RED ROCKS IN NEVADA
NOLS ALUMNI REUNIONS Reunions are a great way to meet other NOLS grads in your community and build your network. These usually-evening social events feature snacks, libations, outdoor gear raffles, camaraderie and tales of adventure. Guests are always welcome. See www.nols.edu/reunions for details. Watch for details on NOLS alumni spring reunions in... • Seattle, Washington • Atlanta, Georgia
Learn new rock skills or hone your existing techniques with a convivial squad of NOLS grads and guests. Base camping at Red Rocks on the outskirts of Las Vegas allows great access to sunny, tall, varnished sandstone walls.
HIKE UTAH’S CANYONS
Dates: April 3–8, 2016 and April 10–16, 2016 | Cost: $995 (includes pre and post-trip lodging!) | Days: Six or Seven, depending on date This trip travels in Utah’s desert canyons with a focus on the area’s natural and incredible human history. Exposed landforms provide textbook illustrations of the land’s geologic past, and thickly vegetated riparian zones contrast the stark expanses of rock, sand, and black bush. This trip traverses a 26-mile section of Grand Gulch and Bullet Canyon, one of the top NOLS hiking destinations in Utah.
CLIMB MT. KILIMANJARO
Date: April 5–14, 2016 | Cost: $3,575 (includes pre and post-trip lodging!) | Days: Ten
• Boston, Massachusetts
Join NOLS on a climb to the top of Africa. Porters help with the loads as the team ascends through the bush, jungle, and into the alpine zone of Kilimanjaro (19,341 feet). Experience the culture of Tanzania on this once-in-a-lifetime high altitude mountaineering trip.
• Washington, DC
WIND RIVER HIKING & WILDERNESS FIRST AID CERTIFICATION
• Portland, Oregon
• San Francisco, California
• Denver, Colorado
Dates: February 14–20, 2016 | Cost: $1,650 (includes pre and post-trip lodging!) | Days: Seven
Date: April 7–13, 2016 | Cost: $1,295 (includes pre and post-trip lodging!) | Days: Seven It’s a two-fer! Backpack in Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains and acquire a rigorous, 16-hour first aid certification at the same time. Granite slabs, backcountry travel and cooking, map reading, abundant fishing, and classic peaks are part of this new alumni trip.
HIGHER LOVE: SKIING THE SEVEN SUMMITS
LEAVE NO TRACE IN THE OUTDOORS
By Kit DesLauriers, Semester in Alaska ’91
By Jeffrey Marion, PhD
If you’re looking for a hero, a mentor, and a favorite bedtime storyteller, you’ll find her in Kit DesLauriers. The most feasible way to bring DesLauriers’ deep personal insights and thrilling epics is with her book, Higher Love: Skiing the Seven Summits. DesLauriers is the first person to climb up and ski down each of the Seven Summits, the tallest peak on each continent. Higher Love documents that endeavor, encompassing the physical challenge and success, technical logistics, conversations and interactions with key players in her effort, and her internal dialogue and growth. This book is certainly a hero’s story—you’ll follow her on a demanding adventure and watch her as she not only reaches summit after summit but also as she grows and reaches a new understanding of herself. With raw honesty and humility, DesLauriers invites you into her growth and the philosophy with which she fills her role in the world. This is the sort of book you’ll start to avoid picking up as you near the end; despite knowing she’ll reach that final summit you’ll find yourself unwilling to reach the final page. Reviewed by Casey Adams, PR specialist and writer, ©2015 Kit DesLauriers. Read more about DesLauriers on page 9.
If you need a quick, clear Leave No Trace (LNT) refresher for your outdoor adventures, consider Jeffrey Marion’s 150-page book, Leave No Trace in the Outdoors. Readers recommended for this book are both NOLS grads who want to refine their LNT practices as well as novices who are just beginning to learn about the importance of wilderness preservation. This short but comprehensive book provides the reader with all the necessary tools to do both. Marion dives deep into explanations of the seven LNT principles by applying practical examples that any NOLS grad can appreciate. For example, in the “Minimize Campfire Impact” chapter, the topics go beyond the obvious guidelines for fire safety and cleanup. In a succinct and informative manner, Marion includes four subtopics of protocols ranging from the very first step in determining whether or not to build a campfire to properly extinguishing one after use. This incorporation of specific guidelines allows any backcountry-loving reader to relate these suggested practices to their past experiences and future practices. Even in your everyday frontcountry life, or if your adventures trend towards car camping at the local state park, this book includes scientific and ethical advice on how to preserve the spaces that surround you. Reviewed by Molly Hunt, Alumni and Development intern ©2014, Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.
Tracy Baynes, STEP
REPREVE FIBERS BY ANNE MCGOWAN, DEVELOPMENT COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR
Leave it the way you found it ... or better. For NOLS Baja Sea Kayaking graduate Jimmy Barnhardt, that’s not just a tenet of ethical wilderness behavior, it’s something he practices every day. “I live in the city,” said Barnhardt, a WinstonSalem, North Carolina area resident. “But I find I can use Leave No Trace principles in everyday life.” It’s a life lesson Barnhardt credits in part to his 1988 NOLS course. “Those ideas were definitely driven home by 21 days in Baja,” he said. “It just makes you think differently about the environment. It made me want to protect it.” Barnhardt’s beliefs extend to his career as brand sales manager for Unifi, a manufacturer of syntheticfilament yarns made from plastic bottles that are processed into fibe . The fibe , called Repreve, can be used anywhere polyester is used, Barnhardt said. It’s used by a number of familiar brands including Patagonia, Polartec, Nike, Volcom, Adidas, Yukon Outfitters, and The North Face. In fact, Repreve fibe is in all The North Face Denali jackets. “Everyone owns one of those,” Barnhardt joked. “The fleece is made by Polartec, and the fiber is made by Unifi. Jackson, Wyoming-based Stio plans to introduce another line of clothing “everyone” owns: jeans made of a cotton and Repreve blend. “Repreve will be on the inside,” Barnhardt said.
Bottles into wardrobe. Rich Brame
“There’ll be cotton on the outside so they look like any other pair of jeans.” Unifi uses more than 2 billion recycled water bottles per year, conserving the equivalent of about a half-gallon of gasoline for every pound of Repreve yarn produced. Currently, Unifi purchases “flake,” the one-centimeter square chips other companies create from recycled water bottles. Plans are in the works, though, for Unifi to skip the middleman and begin their own recycling and flaking process. They’ll acquire water bottles from municipalities, and collect others at sporting events and festivals. Attending events to collect water bottles also gives Unifi a chance to spread the word about leaving a smaller footprint. The plan is to set up booths where attendees can drop off bottles for recycling while picking up information about the process and their role in it. Research shows people are more apt to recycle if they know their waste will become another product, Barnhardt said. Unifi can turn water bottles into fibers in a month Barnhardt’s work with Unifi isn’t his first foray into high-tech outdoor fabrics. He joined the company earlier this year after fi e years with Cocona, a manufacturer of performance-enhancing apparel made partly from natural sources. As for brand competition, Barnhardt encourages it. “Bring it on,” he said. “As long as other brands live the recycle lifestyle, we welcome the competition.” One might say lessons learned on his NOLS course more than a quarter of a century ago have been woven into Barnhardt’s life. “I’ll do anything I can do to make others understand what they do makes a difference, and what they don’t do also makes a difference,” Barnhardt said.
NOLS CELEBRATES 50 YEARS BY CASEY ADAMS, PR SPECIALIST AND WRITER
NOLS broke out the speakers, the s’mores, and the stories of adventures past to celebrate 50 years of changing lives this Oct. 8‑10. More than 700 people attended the festivities in the school’s hometown of Lander, Wyoming, which included a smorgasbord of activities ranging from a leadership navigation challenge to a tour of the new Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus, from dancing to the annual State of the School presentation. Thanks to enthusiastic and supportive bidders, the silent auction raised $24,000 for scholarships. Thanks to the memories of grads across the decades, we recorded countless tales for posterity. Thanks to alumni, instructors, and staff, the community celebrated with enthusiasm fitting of NOLS NOLS could not have achieved 50 years without the dedicated and exemplary efforts of NOLS graduates, and Peter Metcalf (Mountain Guide ‘71), Dr. Herbie Ogden (former instructor), and Bob Ratcliffe (Mountain Ski Touring ‘73) were honored for their examples. The Alumni Achievement award was presented to
PETER METCALF Alumni Achievement Award
Metcalf, founder and CEO of Black Diamond Equipment, following his keynote presentation at the 50th anniversary celebrations. NOLS gives the Alumni Achievement Award to an alumnus who has taken what they’ve learned at NOLS and become notably successful in the outdoor recreation, education or conservation industry. The Alumni Service Award went to Ogden. This award is given to a devoted alumnus who has served the school in exemplary ways. Ogden is a former instructor, past member of the NOLS Board of Trustees, and current medical advisor to the school. NOLS gave the Alumni Stewardship Award to Bob Ratcliffe, chief of the National Park Service’s (NPS) Division of Conservation and Outdoor Recreation in Washington, D.C., for his decades of public service to promote stewardship, engage youth, enhance outdoor recreation, and conserve our public lands. John Gans also awarded 85 Service Awards to employees who have worked for NOLS 20 or more years. “It’s amazing to work for an organization where there are so many people committed to what we do,” reflected Human Resources and Diversity Director Linda Lindsey. “Thank you all for your enduring contributions to NOLS, to our students, and to the mission.” Find videos of the 50th anniversary at www.nols.edu/50th/
DR. HERBIE OGDEN Alumni Service Award
BOB RATCLIFFE Stewardship Award
Contact the Alumni Office via telephone at (800) 332-4280 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story or to contact your coursemates.
GRADS FROM THE ‘70S Paula Mathieu McNeill, NOLS East Wilderness ‘70 Paula is currently living in Connecticut. Paula reads The Leader all the time and is happy that she still gets it! Paula is wondering where she can find out more about her old group as she rarely sees any reference to them. Contact NOLS Alumni for Paula’s email. Jonathan Bayer, Absaroka Wilderness ‘73 Jonathan is still in “it” after all these years, now a manager of technology. He currently lives in New Jersey and would welcome emails, especially from anyone on his course. Contact NOLS Alumni for Jonathan’s email. Recently, he became aware of an opportunity to help someone in need, and after a series of tests he had surgery to donate one of his kidneys to him. The surgery was on June 16, and both the recipient and Jonathan are doing well. MARRIAGES, ENGAGEMENTS, AND ANNIVERSARIES Holly Lynn Likins, Rock and River ‘15 and Alex Sebastian Engelhart Holly and Alex were married September 5 at the First United Methodist Church in Lander, Wyoming. The couple
currently resides in Lander and Holly is a full-time employee of NOLS.
one year ago as a doctor of physical therapy (DPT) and is working in Salt Lake City.
Libby Gadbois, Baja Ocean Semester ’07 and Brian Hensien, Wind River Wilderness – 23 and older ‘09 Libby and Brian were married surrounded by friends and family and danced the night away in the same fashion in Lander, Wyoming on Sept. 19. The two met while interning at NOLS Headquarters and continue their careers with the school today.
Josephine ‘Josie’ Fleming, Alaska Wilderness Course ‘98 and Will Foster Josie and Will were married on August 29 in Teton Village, Wyoming.
Clair Parrish, NOLS Instructor and Steve Smith, Alaska Mountaineering ’13 and NOLS Staff Clair and Steve were married on August 15 at the Hatchet Motel near Togwotee Pass overlooking the Tetons. They were surrounded by loving family and friends (many NOLS grads among them). Eric Fox, Wind River Wilderness ‘97 and Rylin Laplante, Wilderness First Responder ‘03 Eric and Rylin got married on June 20. They are both former NOLS instructors. They met the summer before Eric’s Instructor Course, working in the outdoors, and got together after they left NOLS to pursue other careers. Eric is completing his medical residency in anesthesia in Salt Lake City and Rylin graduated
NEW ADDITIONS Dan Carson, Semester in Alaska ‘95 and Amanda Moyer Dan and Amanda are the proud parents of Rio Andrew Carson, born June 11. Rio weighed six pounds, nine ounces at birth. Rio’s grandparents are former NOLS instructors Andy and Nancy Carson of Wilson, Wyoming. IN REMEMBRANCE Catherine Nix, Wilderness First Aid ‘13 Catherine died while climbing with two friends in the Tetons. The group of three was attempting Teewinot when the fatal accident occurred. Daniel John Liff, Wind River Wilderness ‘75 Daniel, age 56, died peacefully at home in Santa Barbara, California on June 27. Daniel was a sensitive soul who always marched to the beat of his own drummer. He was creative and artistic with an amazing
Leslie celebrates NOLS’ 50 th with her husband, Dave Kallgren.
attitude of gratitude and generosity. Daniel will be fondly remembered as a wonderful man, son, husband, brother, and friend. Pascal Leader, Fall Semester in Baja ‘06 Pascal, a good looking, popular surfer and artist known as Sax, died in his New York apartment on Nov. 30, 2013. After graduating from East Hampton High School, Pascal took part in a NOLS course in Baja, Mexico, where he learned to cook for himself and his coursemates, among many other skills. On a pan over a self-made fire, he found a new talent: making delicious stir-fry.
Leslie van Barselaar, Former Instructor, WMI marketing coordinator Leslie had a long and storied career with NOLS. At the school’s recent 50 th anniversary celebration in Lander, Les was recognized for her 40-year service to our students, staff, and mission. She was an instructor, a co-director in Africa, a codirector in Mexico, a NOLS Ranch staff and most recently worked administratively for the Wilderness Medicine Institute. She died in her home Oct. 28 and will be dearly missed.
WILDERNESS QUIZ Answer: While visiting Alaska this August to highlight the impact of climate change in the Arctic, President Obama announced the official renaming of Mt. McKinley (North America’s highest point at 20,310 feet) back to its original Athabaskan name of “Denali,” translated as “The Great One.” NOLS courses have been visiting Denali since 1971.
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TETON VALLEY • NOLS Teton Valley is hosting a spring break backcountry ski trip in the Tetons in 2016 (March 19-26). If you are keen to explore the glittering snow, learn about winter camping (i.e. eating bacon), develop avalanche awareness, and ski or ride powder daily, then check out the details online. • The inaugural Salmon River Rafting– Prime (over age 23) course was a success for students with a broad range of professional backgrounds.
Teton Valley has explored new course offerings this year. Courtesy of Erica Farren
• We recently saw our largest student group ever! NOLS Pro has partnered with the C5 Youth Program to run their Bridges Leadership Expedition. C5 prepares middle school and high school students for leadership roles in college, work, and their communities, and motivates them to become role models for others. These students have high academic potential and they come from underresourced communities. PATAGONIA • After a quiet but busy southern hemisphere winter, we are getting ready to receive our first courses. During the last four months we remodeled student bathrooms, replaced the septic system at the commons, replaced and fixed 1,100 meters of fences around the farm,
changed the internet provider, and created a NOLS Patagonia Campus Master Plan for the next 15 and 20 years. • In addition to all the in-town and field staff that live and work at the campo, we currently have two new calves, 60 new lambs, two cows, four calves from last year, a bull, 110 sheep, six dogs, five cats, 10 chickens, two roosters and five horses. • The Chilean scholarship program is strong. It generates great leaders for the country and ambassadors for the school. NOLS NORTHEAST • 2015 marked our fifth summer in the Adirondack Park of upstate New York. • Our students ranged in age from 13 to 58, with over 45 percent of our students coming from neighboring states and about 60 percent from the East Coast. • Our Alumni Service Trip, partnering with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), completed over 300 hours of service, including lean-to roof construction, trail restoration, and box privy repairs. • In partnership with NOLS Pro and Clarkson University, we offered our first course with a rock-climbing component. This course, customized for the Clarkson University Outing Club, included four days of backcountry climbing.
NOLS Northeast offered its first climbing section this year. Ben Fox
WILDERNESS MEDICINE QUIZ ANSWER
A: The most important step in the scene size up is looking for hazards to the rescuer, the patient and bystanders.
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 location Facebook pages.
REUSE: THE STORY OF GEAR BY KARA COLOVICH, SUSTAINABILITY COORDINATOR
Any NOLS alumnus can account for the amount of wear and tear our gear goes through on any given NOLS course. From tents withstanding gale-force winds to the common rips and tears in apparel, there is the potential to quickly degrade the life of gear. Recently, the ethic and necessity of extending the longevity of gear and repurposing unusable gear has become a topic of greater conversation within circles of NOLS. The ethic of reuse and repurposing is rooted in our practices of Leave No Trace. We strive to tread lightly on the Earth, which informs our resource use through the consumption of material goods. For some of our locations in remote areas, such as NOLS Patagonia, reuse and repurposing is not only an ethic but also a necessity because access to gear replacements is limited. Patagonia staff have found ways to reuse other locations’ unwanted gear and repurpose retired gear, such as converting a tent fly into a shopping bag. Through leading by example and imparting an ethic to our students, NOLS strives to tread lightly and Leave No Trace wherever we may be. Thank you to Phil Henderson, NOLS Patagonia equipment manager, for sparking this conversation. Check out the complete story on the NOLS Blog under Environmental Stewardship.
• We recently completed two new Adirondack Prime courses, nine days in the High Peaks for adults ages 23 and over climbing many of the infamous “46-ers,” peaks over 4,000 feet! ALASKA • NOLS Alaska has one of the shortest operating seasons of any NOLS location. Our program explodes when the sun is up 20 hours a day and disappears along with the sun in the fall. • This past summer we served a record 692 students on 63 courses with 18,344 student days. • Twenty-four percent of NOLS Alaska student days were on NOLS Professional Training courses. Our biggest NOLS Pro client is the United States Naval Academy (USNA). We ran 13 courses for the USNA, serving 144 midshipmen. • Over 175 grads, staff, and partners joined NOLS Alaska on Aug. 16 for a 50th anniversary celebration at the Farm. NOLS Executive Director (and former NOLS Alaska Director) John Gans joined us for the celebration. It was a lively event with live music, a delicious barbeque spread, bouncing castle, and story corps booth.
• Our sailing program is built on the use of 22-foot English boats called Drascombes. After two years of collaboration with the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding in Washington state, we have a brand new sailing boat in our fl et.
Holiday Giving BY ANNE MCGOWAN, DEVELOPMENT COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR
NOLS Mexico’s newest addition to the family. Courtesy of Carolina Cortez
PACIFIC NORTHWEST • We hosted nine groups of C5 students from Boston, Los Angeles, Georgia and Texas. • We continue to build on four years of success with the Archer School for Girls, hosting 72 11th-grade girls and eight teachers from Los Angeles in September. • A Naval Academy Professional Training course in Olympic National Park built on the success of previous courses. The Naval midshipmen continue to praise this program for the high level of practical leadership training they receive. John Gans, NOLS executive director and former NOLS Alaska director, joins the 50 th party in Alaska. Courtesy of Janeen Hutchins
MEXICO • After two years of work with land managers, in March we signed a national agreement with the National Commission for Natural Protected Areas (CONANP). This will allow us to access any national park in Mexico and build work plans to train land managers nationwide in leadership expeditions, first aid courses, and more. • This summer we finished the translation into Spanish of two of the pillar notebooks in the NOLS education: the NOLS Leadership Educator Notebook (LEN ) and the Wilderness Educator Notebook (WEN).
access to much of our traditional operating area in the Cascades. A semester mountain section was relocated to the Waddington Range in British Columbia, Canada. These students became the first semester group to traverse the Homathko Icefield.
Students enjoy the views at their Homathko camp. Courtesy of Craig Lenske
• In mid August, large wildfires in Washington forced the closure of roads and restricted
With the holiday season approaching, remembering the things we’re thankful for—and how we can best support them—comes to mind. It’s a time for giving to our family members, friends, and the organizations we believe in. If you or a family member were impacted by NOLS, consider making a gift to the NOLS Annual Fund this year. As we celebrate NOLS’ first 50 years, your support ensures we are able to continue the mission—to be the leading source and teacher of wilderness skills and leadership— for the next 50 years. Donating to NOLS supports scholarships and essential services at all of our locations. It’s also a meaningful way to say “thank you” for the life-changing experiences you or your child experienced at the school. Donor support helps enhance our curriculum resources, reduce our impact on the environment, and increase scholarship funding. For many graduates, a NOLS education would not have been possible if not for scholarships. The NOLS Annual Fund provides scholarships to students, offering experiences with others in the wilderness that can inspire and make impressions that last a lifetime. Keep in mind your gift influences other funding, too. External agencies use alumni participation rates when determining grant distribution. The amount is not the most important thing—your gift helps to increase the percentage of alumni giving. Please consider a gift to increase participation. For information on ways to give, including by credit card or through PayPal, see www.nols.edu/annualfund. In this season of giving, a gift to the annual fund will help ensure another 50 years of quality education and lifechanging experiences.
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‘BE EXCITED TO BE THERE’ BY KIRK RASMUSSEN, VIDEO PRODUCER
[NOLS] used the central coast of British Columbia as a route and operating area. It was an amazing experience: pristine wilderness, very dynamic coastline, and it was all very adventurous,” he said. Twenty years later, he’s still gushing about NOLS operating areas and the ways he can share his delight with students. “The minute you wake up in the morning, it presents opportunities to learn all day until you go to bed at night. And you can make a lesson plan, but there’s just so many opportunities to learn that you don’t know are there until you are exposed to them, so it never gets boring, it never gets tired. I see something new every day. I can work the same course area and get the chance to see it newly through someone else’s eye, or get to watch them see it for the first time. We establish some kindling and then light a fire, and you see it with most every student; how excited they are to be out in the wilderness, to learn a new skill, to be part of a community, and to weave a story.” Lowry’s leadership process is fueled not by heroics or harrowing decisions, but by fl xibility, compassion, empathy, and a willingness to go with the fl w. His leadership and instructional process can be outlined in five simple stages:
Students demonstrate enthusiasm and fun - key tools in Lowry’s toolkit. Doug Lowry
There’s a phrase thrown about by high school football coaches that declares their star quarterbacks as “natural born leaders.” However, viewing leadership as a trait rather than a skill inaccurately overlooks the role of leadership as a relationship based on understood mutual need. Leadership is the skill of giving motivation and acting upon insights gleaned from the experience of the group. At 55, with 20 years of teaching leadership in the outdoors, Doug Lowry embodies this, continuing to learn by his willingness to see experiences through the eyes of his students. In the cathedral of his childhood woods, ponds, streams (and beyond, once he got a bicycle), Lowry discovered the world around him as both a playground and a teacher. He paddled his first homemade kayaks with his father as early as age 6, and would demand to get in the water every day after school. He later attended Massachusetts College of the Arts, and, in 1980, chose to travel to Kenya and take his first NOLS semester. After that, Lowry took a 25 and older sea kayaking course in Baja, Mexico and, in 1995, his Instructor Course. “The Instructor Course was the first time
1. Foster a supportive learning environment. Give encouragement and opportunities for refl ction. “No course is going to reach its maximum potential if your course does not establish a safe community. People grow where they are emotionally and physically comfortable. Everyone doesn’t have to get along all the time, but they must understand that they are each valuable and critical to the expedition.” 2. Create opportunities for learning, but know when to get out of the way. “It could just be a moment of appreciating a sense of place, or being able to see, ‘whoa, this wasn’t something I thought I could do this morning.’ Don’t overlook opportunities. Be fl xible and take advantage of something more spontaneous and ride with it. I think there’s tremendous value in that.” 3. People thrive when challenged. “What’s absent in the classroom that we have the privilege of is consequence. It’s the adding up of all the experiences that will eventually be what you take away, so I encourage stumbling blocks. They don’t define you, they just give you more information.” 4. Use feedback and role modeling to help each student be authentic to the group and to themselves. “It’s important to recognize the times when people have grown. There’s a light in everybody, and all one has to do is give each other the chance to show it. Most of the time people won’t disappoint you.” 5. Lastly, have fun. “It’s the most powerful teacher out there.”
THE THINGS WE CARRY BY CAROLYN HIGHLAND, SEMESTER IN NEW ZEALAND ‘12
There are a million ways to try to hold on to things. We close our eyes, we narrate, we imagine, we recreate, we pinch our fingers, we clench our fists, we stare and stare and stare. We clutch and we grab and we cling, trying to keep what has already passed. We seem to be programmed to resist the shift, resist the transformation of things ending. To ease the ache, we often try to create physical artifacts. Photographs turn memory to public property, something stiff and unnaturally glossy. A photographic representation of a moment becomes the signifie , the primary representation of that moment. Perhaps as time goes on, we begin to remember the photograph instead of the moment itself. Those moments you can hold in your palm. What you have to hold differently are the moments that live only inside your head, the ones the camera didn’t catch, the ones you maybe can’t see, but you can feel. Those require cradling; they require cupped fingers On my NOLS course in New Zealand we took pictures at the tops of peaks, when the sun was out, when we turned a corner and were stalled by the expanse of scenery before us. Those moments, too, are memories. Those moments were beautiful and important. But the moments that I cradle, the moments that I cup my sunburned finger around are the ones that I can feel more strongly than I can see. All of us standing in the driving rain at the top of a leafy ridge, soaked through our neoprene, looking out at the ocean and waiting for a window to make the final paddles. The way the light came through the yellow tent ceiling as we sang after I ran through the thick silent snow to get there, having remembered the words. The inexplicable, warm calm that came over me as I sat up in the middle of the tent through the night, bracing it against roaring winds. The hugeness of the silence the morning we climbed a ridge guided by headlamps to watch the sun emerge. The freezing, electric jolt to our entire energy when we flung ourselves into an alpine lake still cased with ice. The tumbling inertia of laughter it took only a look to set off. The feeling of fleeting togetherness as we sat on top of box containers watching the sun go down for the last time, the strains of the guitar Colt held in his hands filling the atmosphere. These were the things that lived only inside us, that we would have to hold closer to keep, or perhaps hold in a different way. The last day in the field we moved slowly. We took longer to pick up our feet, we chose routes that led us out of the way, we contemplated more deeply where to cross a river. We took breaks when we weren’t tired, we baked a pie on the side of a hill in our sleeping bags, we spent hours huddled against our backpacks, hiding from the wind, watching the rising sun burn the bottoms of the clouds red. We did all these things and yet we still came to the finish, we still popped up over the last hill and saw the way out, the way to the end. No matter what measures we took to prolong it, the end continued to loom, waiting for us to arrive. And then it was time. We all stared down at the beech trees winding through the valley toward the road, knowing there was a sort of bittersweet inexorability bringing us toward it. Each step we took
contained the thousands of steps we had taken over the previous months—sidesteps across swift and murky rivers, lunging leaps from one boulder to the next, plunging postholes deep into mushy snow, careful footfalls along narrow footpaths, triumphant strides up the last few meters of elevation gain. These steps were the same as thousands of others, and yet they were different because they were the last ones. Because when we set our packs down it would be for the last time. When we pulled our boots off and laid our socks out to dry, it would be for the last time. When we did everything we had been doing for months it would be the last time. The magic, the spell of skin-tingling awe that had wrapped itself around the entire expedition, would be broken. But no matter how languid we allowed our cadence to become, no matter how many times we paused, the only direction in which we could move was forward.
The moments I cherish are the ones I feel more strongly than I can see. Carolyn Highland
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Every incline we had panted up, every scree field we had sidehilled, every patch of matagouri we’d hurled ourselves through, every gust of wind was now an indelible part of us. Abby Rogers
John Muir wrote, “These beautiful days must enrich all my life. They do not exist as mere pictures—maps hung upon the walls of memory—but they saturate themselves into every part of my body and live always.” The way we hold on to things is not through two dimensional snapshots or even written words. It is not through retelling, through mentally recreating, through nostalgic daydreaming. Even when we must walk away, we can hold on by reaching out our arms and gathering it all into our chests, by carrying the muscle memory of all of our footfalls with us as we take our next steps. By letting the sun seep into our skin, by letting the mountains press themselves up against us, by letting the air fill our chests, by keeping the electricity buzzing through our veins. The way to truly hold on to things is not to
attempt to preserve memories that immediately begin to fade and curl at the edges, but to allow the experience to inform every step we take afterward, to evoke the spirit, the energy, the essence of it all in everything we do. The actual expedition may have been over, but it would be palpable in everything we did next. One of the principles we were taught in our Leave No Trace training was “Leave what you find.” But we hadn’t. We couldn’t. Every incline we had panted up, every shoreline we had washed our dishes at, every scree field we had sidehilled, every sunrise we’d snuck out of the tent early to watch, every spot we had wandered off to just sit and look, every patch of matagouri we’d hurled ourselves through, every gust of wind we’d stayed up bracing the tent against was now an indelible part of us, glowing through our ribcages and out the tips of our fingers. We couldn’t have left what we’d found if we’d wanted to. And while we stretched out our arms on the hillside at the end and tried to hold on to everything that had happened, it became clear that it would also be holding on to us.
WFR, IN CARTOONS BY CARMINE LEIGHTON, WILDERNESS FIRST RESPONDER ‘15
See all of Carmine’s WFR cartoons at blog.nols.edu/2015/10/28/wilderness-first-responde -in-cartoons/ 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 (email@example.com) or the phone at (800) 710-NOLS.
National Outdoor Leadership School 284 Lincoln Street Lander, WY 82520-2848 www.nols.edu • (800) 710-NOLS THE LEADER IN WILDERNESS EDUCATION
Thanks! NOLS celebrates 50 years because of the quality of our students, the abilities of our staff, the action of our graduates, the generosity of our donors, and the tenacity of our volunteers. Thank you, one and all, for our first five decades. Thank y to the exuberant cadre of 700 who joined us in Lander and the more than 1,000 who joined us in other global locations to celebrate, recreate, and connect. Here’s to the next 50 years!
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Published on Dec 3, 2015
The Leader is a magazine for alumni of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), a nonprofit school focusing on wilderness skills, lead...