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Finding Healing in the Climb Letting Her Go: My Daughter’s Gap Semester



The Maze: Notes from My Days at Sea 18

Last Stand: The Vanishing Caribou Rainforest 20

THE LEADER November 2017 • Volume 33 • No. 1 Published three times a year in April, August, and November.



Kristen Lovelace Liz Schultz ALUMNI RELATIONS DIRECTOR



he leadership skills NOLS grads learn on all types of courses will always be there for you. All NOLS grads have powerful, authentic experiences, and speak about their courses with heart, from those who just took a course last summer to students who took their course decades ago. Our grads want to prepare themselves and others to be the best leaders possible in their lives. The tools and core curriculum taught on NOLS courses are for life. We teach that leadership is “situationally appropriate action that directs or guides your group to set and achieve goals.” What does that mean? Being a leader doesn’t mean trekking to the most remote places you can find, being the person who is designated as “in-charge,” or getting crushed having type two fun each weekend. It can mean being a productive team member at work, taking action on environmental issues in your community, or sharing your experience by mentoring others. The skills you learned at NOLS are lifelong, from expedition behavior to competence to developing grit. A love of the outdoors bonds us all together regardless of which type of course you took. The outdoors is there for you, from getting out on a walk in your neighborhood, stopping to appreciate the changing seasons, or taking a deep breath and letting frustrations go. Graduates of risk management, custom courses, expeditions and wilderness medicine courses alike all have the wildness in our bones and appreciate outdoor experiences. This wildness NOLS grads seek can come from exploring wilderness areas, learning how to manage challenging medical emergencies, and figuring out ways to help groups and organizations achieve their goals. On our courses, students apply these skills to challenges in a supportive learning culture with high expectations. This has been a core part of the NOLS experience from the start of the school. Leaving a course, our grads are inspired and empowered to step forward as leaders in their own lives. Best,

John Gans NOLS Executive Director




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




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


Teach the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate uncertainty. Curriculum | Systems View of Life


Research | Nutrition and Energy



How To | Shop For Your NOLSie This Holiday


Staff Profile | Kate Koons


How To | Can You Knot ?


Alumni Profile | Gretchen Long


Reviews | On Trails and Living Sustainably


Alumni Profile | Pete Geddes


Gear Review | BioLite Stove 2


Alumni Trips | Backpacking in Thailand and Longboat Sailing in Baja


Nutrition | Scrambled Gingerbread


Featured Course | Baja Women’s Sea Kayaking - Prime


Alumni in Action | Wilderness First Responder: What It’s Like to Use It


Recognition | NOLS Wilderness Medicine


NOLS in Action | C5 Youth Program Gets Challenge-Ready with NOLS


Featured Location | Wyss Campus




Push people to experience the uncertain.


Feature | Finding Healing in the Climb

16 Feature | Letting Her Go: My Daughter’s Gap Semester


Feature | The Maze: Notes from My Days at Sea


Cover Story | Last Stand: The Vanishing Caribou Rainforest



YOUR FEEDBACK | LETTERS “In the article in the link below, you will find confirmation of the actual railroad that terminated in Lander in 1917. Contrary to The Leader article, “A Noble Path” by Dan Kenah, it was not the Great Northern Railroad (GNR). The GNR only ran on what was called the “High Line” from St. Paul, MN to Seattle, WA. The Chicago and Northwestern ran from Chicago into Casper and in 1906 a branch line was extended from Casper to Lander.” –Doug Gordon NOLS grad

“Just want to say that I really enjoy The Leader pub —Thank you. And, your magazine’s graphic design is great … and your choice of sustainable substrate (paper and I assume biodegradable inks) is excellent, in my humble opinion, and I’m a magazine/periodical designer/media producer and print-buyer since the late 80s (yikes, I’m so OLD, and getting better all the time!).” –Vicki Olds NOLS grad

“I could taste that hard rock of chocolate. I could feel the weight of its one pound, and that one pound of cheese. The story of Utah Rationer Kay Harris brought back memories of a reration in the North Cascades 45 years ago. To this day I don’t hit a trail without chocolate (and of course water, first aid kit, and pen knife ...). I would wager that reration may be the most common memory amongst all NOLS grads. There’s that seemingly insurmountable peak, the first ice wall, crossing a wild NW river, perhaps facing down a bear, but reration day memories return like a flash flood! Thanks to all the Kay Harrises out there who do a critical job with little fanfare.” –Bill Lutz NOLS grad

List Your NOLS Experience on LinkedIn! Did you know you can list your NOLS experience, including courses and certifications, on your LinkedIn profile? Include NOLS in the education section of your profile to show employers your leadership and team experience. 4 | THE LEADER



A C5 course at NOLS Northeast. Kirk Rasmussen


or years, C5 Youth Foundation and NOLS were on parallel paths focused on providing transformative experiences that help students realize their own potential. In 2015, those paths merged when C5 partnered with NOLS Custom Education. The mission of C5 Youth Foundation is to inspire students to pursue personal success, embrace leadership roles, and build confidence to become role models for others. Over five years, C5 works with high potential youth from economically disadvantaged areas of Boston, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Austin, and Dallas/Ft. Worth. With the support and mentorship of the C5 program, students graduate high school and enter college equipped to succeed. NOLS Custom Education partners with C5 to run wilderness expeditions for students entering their third year of the program, focused on becoming Chal-

lenge-Ready. Each summer C5 sends 14- and 15-year-old students and one C5 staff counselor per course to four NOLS locations for weeklong expeditions. In the summer of 2017, NOLS supported 21 courses serving approximately 230 students with 54 instructors and numerous staff at NOLS Rocky Mountain, Pacific Northwest, Northeast, and Teton Valley. C5 students come to NOLS with strong leadership experience as active members of their schools, communities, and families. They achieve academically and are often the glue in their chosen communities. The backcountry setting of their NOLS experience encourages them to live into their own success in a new environment and provides tangible lessons to ready them for life away from their families at college. Sharing a tent provides a glimpse into independent dorm living and ascending peaks inspires students to believe in themselves in new

and powerful ways. Through partnerships with diverse organizations like C5, NOLS has learned tremendous lessons. By tailoring structure, support, and learning outcomes for specific student groups, NOLS continues to evolve to meet students on their leadership journey and inspires them to hone their abilities in preparation for the many challenges and successes they will encounter.

Jen Pontrelli Jen came to Lander from Chicago in 2015. In her free time, she loves to run, bike, explore the mountains, and bond with friends over homemade deep dish pizza.


John Stoddard


42° N, 108° W

By Ben Lerman NOLS Wilderness Medicine Marketing Coordinator


s I approached the Wyss Campus for the first time, walking up the gravel road through the stunningly red sandstone cliffs of Lander Valley’s Red Canyon, my gaze was immediately drawn to the uniquely designed butterfly roof of the main educational facility. Later, I learned this collects snow and rain water and funnels it into basement cisterns with a total capacity for 50,000 gallons. The Wyss Campus is anything but typical. Designed to role model responsible use of natural resources, the Wyss Campus directly supports NOLS’ 2020 absolute 30 percent carbon reduction goal. Every detail of the campus prioritizes student engagement with sustainability strategies such as renewable energy, composting, and water conservation. 2017 marks the Wyss Campus’ fifth anniversary. Funded largely by donors, including a sizeable contribution from Swiss bioengineer Hansjörg Wyss, the campus was built to replace previously rented Central Wyoming College facilities. The state-of-the-art living and learning space, which has operated at full capacity since its opening, comfortably hosts the breadth of NOLS Wilderness Medicine courses.

When students and staff arrive, they are introduced to the scope of the Wyss Campus’ environmental focus on a tour. It starts with the basics, like motion-sensor lights and solar-powered Wi-Fi. Students then learn about the composting toilets, drought-tolerant grass, and kitchen and bathroom wastewater filtration. Most impressive might be the geothermal heating and cooling system that uses the earth’s energy to maintain a near constant indoor temperature year-round. On my visit to the campus, I saw firsthand a comfortable, modern space that it is ideally designed for wilderness medicine training. Even more exciting was the clear impact on students from their exposure to the Wyss Campus’ wealth of actionable and environmentally friendly practices.

Building • Capacity for 32 residential students and an additional 30 day-users.

Opening Date • November 4, 2012

Courses Offered • Wilderness First Responder • Wilderness First Responder Recertification

• WFR Instructor Training Course Ben Lerman Ben is a NOLS Wilderness Medicine WFR graduate. As a newcomer to NOLS and Wyoming, he is incredibly excited to hike and climb all over the surrounding mountain ranges.

QUESTION | What is the smallest unit in the U.S. National Park system?


Located in Lander, Wyoming, you’ll have an immersive experience at the Wyss Campus as you live and learn on the 243 acres in Red Canyon along a scenic byway.

• WFA Instructor Training Course

Wilderness Quiz Answer on page 13.


Fun Fact • The campus has been awarded LEED Platinum Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.



By Caleb Walker Marketing Representative

“... making decisions in real time allows the team to see how one another responds to stress, processes information, and manages themselves in adverse conditions.”


ate Koons has a love affair with winter sports. It began when she learned to ski as part of an afterschool program in northern New Jersey. “There was one lift and one Poma and many of my first memories revolved around trying to push my sister off the Poma lift, or not fall down while skiing the icy moguls to the bottom.” These days she is referred to as the “winter guru” around NOLS. After hearing about her years guiding in Antarctica, the Tetons, and all over the world, one could say it’s a welldeserved title. Kate is now a program supervisor at NOLS Teton Valley in Driggs, ID, where she helps prep instructor teams for upcoming courses and works on various day-to-day tasks to ensure everything at Teton Valley runs smoothly. Kate’s role as a program supervisor has helped her find a balance that keeps her passionate about being in the backcountry. While she does spend time in the office working on the same kind of administrative jobs that many of us have, she also gets a few perks on the job. “For winter courses, we have a half day built into the briefing where we go and ski with the instructors. I love this

part of the briefing, not only because I get out of the office and get to ski powder, but you really are able to see instructors in their element. Being out in the snow, making decisions in real time allows the team to see how one another responds to stress, processes information, and manages themselves in adverse conditions,” said Kate. Kate also gets to spend time in the field, when necessary, supporting instructor teams, and even went back to Antarctica to guide for a few seasons. “I always feel like I have something to look forward to: when I’m in the field I can think of coming home, being with my dogs and husband, and simply going to the office. When I’m in the office doing paperwork I can think that in a few weeks I’ll be back in the backcountry,” she said. It’s safe to say that Kate has become a master at work-life balance. Kate started with NOLS in 2001 when she took her Instructor Course. Since then, she has worked a remarkable total of 274 weeks in the field and instructed winter, climbing, hiking, NOLS Custom Education, and NOLS Risk Services courses. During the 2017

Faculty Summit, Kate won the Combo Award for excellence in both in-town and field work, honoring her 17 years as an instructor, and her seven years as a program supervisor. Kate truly is a guru in the NOLS community.

Caleb Walker When Caleb is not at the office, he’s usually somewhere in the backcountry with his dog, trying to decide what to cook for dinner.

Wilderness Medicine Quiz QUESTION | What does the acronym RICE stand for? Answer on page 30.




By Dan Kenah Foundation Relations Officer

“My volunteer work has been by far the most gratifying work.”


retchen Long’s career shows us that the outdoors is ours to experience, and ours to protect. Before she began defending our most treasured natural places, before she was the chair of the NOLS Board of Trustees, before she amassed a resume of conservation that would make John Muir proud, Gretchen found refuge in the little outdoors. As a girl, she would venture across the street from her house to a small 3-acre state lot, “to imagine, to test myself swinging from trees, to find a frog to be my best pet.” From these little experiences came lifelong values. Brought up in a family that believed in civic engagement, she has been

volunteering with various organizations throughout her career. She said, “My volunteer work has been by far the most gratifying work.” Last spring, Gretchen was honored with the Centennial Leadership Award from the National Parks Conservation Association for her outstanding contributions in making sure our national parks are ready for their next century of service. She has sat on the boards of the Environmental Defense Fund, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, the Murie Center, NOLS, and many others. Gretchen attributes her longevity in the field to the people she collaborates with and “passion for the cause and belief

in the values of the organization.” A year after her first NOLS course—sea kayaking in Baja—she joined our board to guide us through a heady period of growth. Of her time, she said, “the mission and values of NOLS are the best in the world,” and every decision was scrutinized to represent those values. In 2013, she received the Murie Center Spirit of Conservation Award for her decades of advancing conservation organizations and their missions. An attribute the Center highlights is “the power of a passionate individual to make a difference in conservation.” While a leader of conservation, she is one person, following her passion where it takes her. We all have the outdoors to discover somewhere. Gretchen’s childhood 3-acre lot has long since been developed, as unfortunately happens so often. But the seeds sown there have spread far with her life.

Dan Kenah Dan is a Baffin Island 2006 grad who came to the NOLS development office in 2016 from Jackson. While most comfortable on skis or in front of a piano, he’s excited to climb and explore the Winds.

Gretchen Long and John Gans at a NOLS Board Meeting in the 1990s. Courtesy of Gretchen Long




By Kim Freitas Writer and Leader Editor

“NOLS has produced a generation of conservation leaders.”


OLS has produced a generation of conservation leaders,” said Pete Geddes. Pete would know, as his own career has evolved from being a NOLS instructor to following his passion for conservation as the managing director of the American Prairie Reserve (APR). Located in Montana, the APR is arguably the largest conservation project no one has ever heard of. Its purpose is to combine existing public lands from the Charles M. Russell Wildlife Reserve with surrounding private lands it purchases. When completed, this reserve will create new wildlife migration corridors between Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and the APR. In fact, Pete was living in Bozeman and had not heard about this project. It wasn’t until the managing director position was announced in 2011 that Pete’s interest in the organization was sparked. After spending 15 years working in environmental economics in Bozeman he realized, “what really motivated me was my affinity for the large public lands of the American West, which of course I developed a real love for working at NOLS.” He said APR is “a group of people banding together to provide a public good, if you will, a legacy not for the nation but for the world.”

As he stepped into the managing director position, he was looking for a way to orient the culture of the organization around safer practices in remote settings. He reached into his past and turned to NOLS. First, NOLS Risk Services reviewed APR’s programming in 2014. Then APR contacted NOLS again for support in developing a new a crisis response plan in 2015. The consulting relationship has continued, and NOLS conducted a follow-up crisis response training for APR staff in 2017. Of the experience, Pete said, “NOLS was extremely helpful in coming in and then teaching an organization about how you want to operate in essentially a wilderness setting, not only where you’ve got staff that are engaged in farm and ranch work … but also how you want to set up the organization from a culture perspective.” APR is one client NOLS Risk Services works with to provide risk management trainings. Pete believes that these programs will only continue to grow. “It’s a real area of competitive advantage for NOLS,” he said. APR chose to reach out to NOLS because of NOLS’ fifty-plus years of experience managing risk in remote areas for our own global programs.

Hiking a butte on the American Prairie Reserve. Dennis Lingnor

Kim Freitas Kim is a three-time NOLS grad who likes making homemade quiche, Nordic skiing, and lifting kettlebells.





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

NOLS Alumni Reunions Thanks for another fantastic reunion season this fall. From Salt Lake City to New York City and in eight cities in between, we gathered to build local NOLS communities nationwide. Whether you graduated from a two-day Wilderness First Aid course or a 90-day Semester in Patagonia, reunions offer a chance to reconnect with NOLS and make new connections locally. We’re already gearing up for spring, so keep an eye out for invitations in San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, and more. Friends and family are welcome!

you and trust NOLS to run the show. We have a wide variety of offerings every year and are adding more trips for 2018. If you don’t see what you’re interested in, contact us; we build custom trips as well. For more information or to sign up, call 1-800-332-4280 or visit

Backpacking in Thailand - Alumni DATE | January 27-February 4, 2018 (9 days) COST | $2,150 (includes pre- and post-trip lodging in Chiang Mai) Explore the rugged mountains and villages in Thailand with NOLS on this pilot trip. You’ll backpack with NOLS staff and a guide. Your group will visit and stay in small villages while exploring the Mae Hong Son region. The remote landscape, jungle environment, and rural communities are highlights of this beautiful region. Moderate


You’ll blend cultural immersion with challenging, trailed jungle hiking.

Longboat Sailing in Baja - Alumni DATE | February 25-March 3, 2018 (7 days) COST | $1,900 Sail aboard unique 22-foot Drascombe Longboats, which are versatile, open cockpit centerboard boats that sail well in a variety of conditions. These boats are a great avenue for learning the elements of sailing and seamanship. This trip camps on and explores Baja’s remote desert beaches. Moderate


Sailing is comfortable, but camping on beaches and day hikes provide extra toughness.

Rachel Roff


Brad Christensen

Lynn Petzold

Lynn Petzold



The Baja California Peninsula and the Sea of Cortez are beautiful, dramatic environments. The land is rugged, dry, and mountainous, while the sea teems with life.

By Ben Lester NOLS Custom Education Assistant Director


ays on the new weeklong Baja Women’s Sea Kayaking – Prime course are filled with paddling to new beaches, setting up camp, and classes on environmental studies and leadership. Each morning, students are up early— packing their kayaks to beat the afternoon winds. Their hard work is rewarded as they enjoy spectacular sunrises at sea. This course was designed to appeal to novice and expert paddlers alike. But beyond expeditioning and leadership skills, the all-women course offers participants a supportive learning environment, and the opportunity to meet other women passionate about the outdoors. Michelle Baldovin, a student on the course currently studying adventure education at Prescott College, recalled that the beautiful Baja weather reflected the calm, supportive demeanor of the group. Throughout the course, the winds were on their side, the group’s spirits were high, and they formed a special bond. Several members of the expedition

did not have any previous experience with sea kayaking or camping, and they felt welcomed into a positive learning environment. “I find it easier to learn in groups of women,” said Michelle. “I just feel more comfortable.” All members felt they were working together to support each other on their designated leadership day experience. “It was really interesting … watching everyone as they gained confidence,” she said. This course appealed to Michelle and others with an interest in leading groups in the backcountry. Previously, all of her expeditions had been with her own friends and she wanted to see how NOLS ran courses. After researching options, the length and skill set of this one really appealed to her. “I thought it would help me move closer to ... my own personal growth of pushing myself and traveling from where I live.” She learned, “I am capable of doing things when I push through my fears

and push through the challenges of my situation.” Michelle and her peers increased their self-awareness, confidence, and gained kayak and camping skills, which will help them to seek future adventures.

Ben Lester Ben is a recovering journalist and was the editor of A Worthy Expedition: The History of NOLS. He balances office time with teaching field courses and writing about himself in the third person.




Derek snowboarding on Beartooth Pass in Montana. Lauren Pandolfi


en hadn’t been wearing a helmet. The loud scream and the sharp crack against the rock belonged to her. She was a fellow snowboarder I’d met by the trailhead in the parking lot before we ascended the snowy ridge to the top of the chute. She and her partner, Matt, were as thrilled to see snow in July as I was. We were snowboarding in the backcountry by the Wyoming/Montana border. It happened quickly after Matt and I had finished our descent of the chute. Jen’s sharp outcries were interrupted by gasps and thuds. Turning toward the source of the sound, I saw Jen emerge from the neighboring chute. She was sliding, and gaining speed. There was no snowboard on her feet. Her head and face were a dark maroon, the same color that highlighted her path down the snow. Without looking at each other, Matt


and I sprang across the slope. We weren’t aimed at Jen, but below her. We were riding toward where she would be by the time we got there, so that we could intercept her slide. I told Jen that I was a Wilderness First Responder and asked if I could help her. I explained what I was doing as my hands searched her head and neck for injury. Despite my accelerated heartbeat, I forced a smile. I hadn’t found anything other than the gash in her forehead, a broken nose, and the baseball sized lump protruding from above her opposite eye. I tried for a tone of voice that wouldn’t cause unnecessary alarm, but would convey urgency. Jen’s vitals were remarkably stable. She had not lost consciousness, and was completely coherent, which was a miracle in itself. She knew her name, where we were, the time of day,

and what we were doing. My full body assessment of Jen found no other injuries, except for minor scratches on her hands and wrist from trying to cease her slide down the snow. I monitored Jen’s vitals, and any other signs that would indicate a change to her state. I turned my attention to getting Jen off of the slope. Matt and I flanked either side of her to support her while she slid down the rest of the way on her butt. At the bottom, and after getting back to where we had all parked, Matt drove Jen to the hospital 45 minutes away where she would get scans of her head. There is a sense of reassurance in realizing that you have the necessary skills to act in an emergency. It is still scary, intense, fast paced, and humbling; but knowing what to do both feels, and is, helpful. It is the difference between fearful panic, and controlled, intentional action. I stayed in touch with Jen in the weeks that followed. I was ecstatic to learn that her injuries healed well and that she was moving around normally. Her injuries were minimal given the severity of the situation. She was lucky, and we were both grateful for the positive outcome in a situation where far worse was possible.

Derek MacDonald Derek is an avid snowboarder and backpacker who is happiest chasing sunrises in the backcountry.



Legends That Walk Among Us Award The National Association of EMS Educators has selected Mark Crawford as the 2017 recipient of the Legends That Walk Among Us award. This award reflects a strong belief that the EMS community needs to honor those men and women who have helped shape EMS education nationally. This award thanks those individuals who have, and who continue to, mentor, motivate, and inspire us through their commitments to EMS education. Mark was nominated by peers spanning the last 25 years of his work in EMS—NOLS Wilderness Medicine instructors, fellow U.S. Air Force Pararescuemen, and former students. We’re thrilled that Mark’s contributions to EMS education are being recognized.

Laura McGladrey Education Award

The Wilderness Medical Society presented Laura “Glad” McGladrey with the 2017 Education Award. This award is given in recognition of outstanding contributions in education to students, members, or the public in the field of wilderness medicine. Glad was recognized for her ongoing work to further national education efforts related to psychological first aid, post-traumatic stress care, and overall mental health management for patients and caregivers alike. Glad has designed curriculum, educated countless students, and provided consulting services for many healthcare professionals and outdoor educators around the world. We congratulate Glad on earning this education award.

Tod Schimelpfenig

Wyoming EMS Lifetime Achievement Award Tod was the 2017 recipient of the Wyoming EMS Lifetime Achievement award. The award is presented to a member of the Wyoming EMS community in recognition of commitment and outstanding contributions to the overall emergency medical services in Wyoming. Tod has been involved in EMS in Wyoming since the early 1970s in varying roles: provider, rescuer, educator, advisor, incident commander. Through four decades and in all of these roles, Tod has maintained and emphasized a patient-first approach to healthcare. He has been the ultimate example of giving back to a community by serving others. His dedication to helping people in their time of need has been inspirational to many of us, and we are pleased that the state has honored him with this award.

Congratulations to the NOLS Wilderness Medicine staff members who were recognized for their great work in the outdoor industry.

Wilderness Quiz ANSWER | The David Berger National Memorial in Ohio is the smallest. It is a sculpture that is only a few square yards large.




FINDING HEALING IN THE CLIMB By Kim Freitas Writer and Leader Editor




etting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.” These words echoed in Andrew Collins’ head as he attempted to summit Gannett Peak, the highest mountain in Wyoming. Andrew is a NOLS grad and military veteran with a passion for the outdoors. In July 2017, he joined Summit for Soldiers as they gathered a group of veterans and civilians for this expedition. It was a way for methods other than traditional therapy to provide healing for participants. Summit for Soldiers believes in bringing community to folks who feel lost, isolated, and alone. After spending 19 years in the Marine Corps, Mike Filman founded Summit for Soldiers with the goal of having veterans build support communities. After realizing over 8,000 veterans a year were committing suicide, he founded this organization. The climbs Summits for Soldiers hosts are a way to build support networks and shatter isolation. Nick Knoke, a photographer on the expedition, said, “General trauma, isolation, and lack of community is something everyone experiences. Time in the woods, outdoor recreation, climbing mountains, fly fishing … have been tremendously powerful and I would like to see that brought to other communities as well.” The success of the trip would not be measured by reaching the summit, but by being outside together and building community. “The objective wasn’t to climb Gannett Peak, the overall objective was to get out as a community, build rapport with each other, and build support networks,” said Andrew. Summit day began with a 2 a.m. start, approaching the peak in darkness. This was a twist some expedition members hadn’t planned for, as they couldn’t see beyond their headlamps as they trudged uphill through the dark. Hours later, as the sun finally came up, the group stood triumphantly on a slope leading up Gannett Peak. All took a breath and experienced the alpine view they’d worked so hard for. Close to the top, Andrew’s steps began faltering, and he was feeling exhausted and lightheaded. When his expedition-mates started questioning him, he realized he did not eat enough that morning. Andrew said, “As an individual I could probably keep going because I’m not attached ... THE OVERALL to a rope, since the consequences are for me OBJECTIVE WAS TO GET and me alone to suffer. OUT AS A COMMUNITY, Whereas, if I were to keep going, who knows, BUILD RAPPORT WITH you’ve got three other people on a rope …” EACH OTHER, AND BUILD Since the whole expedition was attached SUPPORT NETWORKS to the same rope, a fall would have consequences for all. Realizing he could not continue up, the group made the decision to turn around one pitch before reaching the summit. At 10 a.m. they all started to head down the mountain, with their crampons sticking to the soft patches of snow. Getting down was a test

Taking a moment to enjoy the scenery in the mountains. Nick Knoke

of fortitude, and it took three hours to descend. All members of the expedition worked together as a team, and took charge. Their leadership skills shined as members were mentally and physically exhausted but pushed on, joking and laughing as they made their way down the trail. The community didn’t end when they left the mountains. They all returned to town, and made plans to keep in touch following the expedition. All left with new friends to reach out to when they need support or are feeling isolated. On Gannett Peak, this group found outdoor recreation is a powerful force for healing, reflection, and finding yourself.

Kim Freitas Kim is a three-time NOLS grad who likes making homemade quiche, Nordic skiing, and lifting kettlebells.

Left: Members of the climb heading up Gannett Peak. Nick Knoke







t first, when my daughter Brooke said she wanted to skip her final semester of high school in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and graduate early to take a “gap semester,” I was devastated. She was one of the stars of the soccer team, her favorite sport, whose squad last season advanced to the state quarter finals for the first time ever. More than truncating her academics, she’d be missing out on perhaps her final chance to ever play a varsity sport again. Of course, a lot of my hesitation was for personal reasons; I loved watching her play. Graduating early meant kissing that goodbye. “No. Dad, I’m over it,” she said. “I want to have a gap semester.” “How about playing your last semester, then taking an entire gap year?” I countered. It was no use; she’d made up her mind. Instead, she wanted to do a NOLS course. She enjoyed paddling and backpacking, so after some research she decided to combine the two with NOLS’ Patagonia Coastal Expedition, a 31-day sea kayaking and backpacking course in Chile. We had raised her in the outdoors as best we could, taking rafting, camping, and skiing trips her whole life. But this would be her first time doing an international adventure solo. NOLS wasn’t the only component of her gap semester. First, she saved enough money to complete a month-long yoga certification course in Costa Rica. With a new sense of self-confidence, she

returned just three weeks before heading off for the Patagonia portion of her sabbatical. Before we knew it, she was gone again, and our house empty once more, except for her little sister. She stayed at a friend’s house in Coyhaique, Chile, for two nights first, and then met her group. She called from there, and that’s the last we heard from her SHE RETURNED MORE for five weeks. When the trip CONFIDENT, AND MORE was finished, we got the call parents long SURE OF WHAT SHE for: the trip was aweWANTS IN LIFE AND some, she gushed, a 10 out of a possible 10. HOW TO GET THERE. She regaled us with stories of kayaking alongside whales, huddling under tarps, paddling unexplored fjords and lakes, rationing food, making new friends, and more. It all came bubbling out like water in the freshwater springs they found. She caught us up more when she arrived home, eyes lit up like the southern stars around the dinner table, whose plate she ravenously devoured. Can I justify it all as a parent? The missing out of her final semester of high school, one of the most impressionable times of a person’s life, to see the world before the shackles of college education take hold? To learn by doing, instead of at a desk? You bet. She returned more confident, and more sure of what she wants in life and how to get there. Later that summer, that was reaffirmed on a sixday rafting trip down Utah’s Green River. However minor the traits might seem, she was the first to go explore a side canyon and was more helpful than I’ve ever seen her, pitching in to make fires, wash dishes, and form chain gangs to unload gear. She wasn’t a child on a trip anymore; she was one of us, making it better for everyone.

Eugene Buchanan A former reporter for the Denver Business Journal and 14-year editor-in-chief of Paddler magazine, Eugene has written about the outdoors for more than 25 years, from covering the X Games for to working for NBC at the Beijing Olympics.

Top: Brooke on her NOLS course in Patagonia. Quinn Abrahms

Left: Eugene and Brooke enjoying time in the mountains together. Courtesy of Eugene Buchanan








ery few sea kayaking courses actually complete the 82-nauticalmile circumnavigation of Nootka Island off the coast of British Columbia. Most turn back halfway through and follow the same route home. Of course, our team took that as a challenge. It was day 12 of our 14-day sea kayaking expedition. The finish line was in sight, but our hardest paddle was still ahead. Today, our route would lead us through the Maze, the name we gave the intricate reef system that separated the calm waters of the Nootka inlet and rough Pacific Ocean. We needed to find a way through the reef to avoid the unprotected conditions out at sea. The only problem was, at low tide we weren’t even sure if one existed. We woke up at 1:45 a.m. with a long haul of 13 miles ahead. The sky was pitch black and dense with fog. Darkness surrounded us, minus the faint light of 11 headlamps. The day started rough. While loading the kayaks, we couldn’t keep up with the receding tide. Every time we heaved our kayaks to the water’s edge, the sucking water would leave our hulls to sink in the sand. Although our day began early that morning, nearly two hours passed before conditions allowed us to set off. We had gotten fairly comfortable with our early morning paddling routine, a schedule set so that we could avoid the extremely rough conditions of midday. But today, heavy rollers tugged and pulled our pod even at 4 a.m., stretching us out to nearly a quarter mile apart. We couldn’t keep together, but we couldn’t stop either. There was no missing the entrance to the Maze. Amidst all the chaos of the open ocean, the water in the rock garden was like glass. Once on the other side, everything was still. In the Maze, dense kelp made it nearly impossible to paddle. Fronds tangled with my blade on AMIDST ALL THE every stroke. For four hours, our team fought this, weaving in and CHAOS OF THE out of rocky sections and finding ends at every turn. Rests OPEN OCEAN, THE dead became more frequent with WATER IN THE every passing hour. During our rests, I wrapped my hands and ROCK GARDEN WAS kayak around the kelp to keep drifting, wishing for just a LIKE GLASS. from two-minute nap. Eventually, we all agreed. We may never find a way out. We would need to face the open ocean to complete our journey. We knew that leaving the Maze would be more difficult than entering. Finding a path must be precise and well angled so these breakers would not consume our kayaks. We watched the pattern of the waves for several minutes, bobbing for the last time in the calm protection of the rock. “That point, there. No breakers, follow it.” A few at a time, we paddled and allowed our kayaks to be taken by the rollers out at sea.

Top: Reflecting after a long day of paddling. Lauren Naro Bottom: Getting kayaks ready for another day at sea. Lauren Naro

Alex Gulsby Alex is an adventure freelance writer, two-time NOLS graduate and the founder of She’s based out of Durango, Colorado, where she enjoys bagging peaks, eating tacos, and floating rivers (in that order).

Left: Alex having fun sea kayaking on her NOLS course. Lauren Naro







he Semester in the Pacific Northwest was for me. Far away from the South where I grew up, it was a different landscape, different climate, and a land that had always felt enchanted and mysterious to me. In September of 2000, I landed in Seattle and made my way north to NOLS Pacific Northwest in Conway, Washington. The place just felt different. The air was different, the trees were tall, and the mountains and saltwater all within sight of each other invoked a deep sense of excitement and anticipation. The 76 days of my semester left a lasting impression. Now, over a decade later, I call this corner of the world my home. The remote landscapes we were in, from the salty coastlines of the Pacific, the towering trees of the temperate rainforest, and the glacier-carved peaks and valleys of the Olympics and Cascades, left me feeling empowered. This course gave me a technical skillset that allowed me to continue to explore wild and beautiful places, and did so in a way that allowed me to fall in love with the places and lit a spark of real connection to landscape. Upon leaving, I was confident that I’d come back to this bioregion. I now feel more connected to this corner of the world than any other place I’ve lived. In summer 2015, wildlife photographer and biologist David Moskowitz reached out to me about a new conservation project. David and I spent years working together in the field teaching wildlife tracking and other naturalist education programs, and he was looking for collaborators on a new project. The goal was to explore the remote Columbia, Selkirk, and Rocky Mountains, far inland from the well-known coastal mountains of Washington State and British Columbia, to photograph some of the most elusive large mammals on the continent—the mountain caribou. Joining Dave and me on the project was a naturalist and educator from the Wilderness Awareness School, Kim Shelton, and conservation filmmaker, Colin Arisman

Industrial-scale logging is the primary force contributing to the disappearance of mountain caribou habitat. Marcus Reynerson

of Wild Confluence Media. Together we created a visual storytelling team called the Mountain Caribou Initiative. Our goal was to document these animals through photography and film before they slipped off the map. The Initiative aims to create compelling visual media and educational materials that bring this story to life. Our most audacious effort in this regard was creating the documentary, Last Stand: The Vanishing Caribou Rainforest. The film is an OUR GOAL WAS TO exploration into the world of the endan- DOCUMENT THESE gered mountain cariANIMALS THROUGH bou: their breathtaking home in the world’s PHOTOGRAPHY AND FILM largest remaining inland BEFORE THEY SLIPPED temperate rainforest, and the critical human OFF THE MAP. choices that will ultimately decide the fate of this stunning ecosystem. In exploring this ecosystem and the complex forces undermining it, Last Stand gives voice to First Nations, scientists, foresters, conservationists, and recreationists. It paints a compelling picture of the need for stronger government intervention, honoring of indigenous treaty rights, and a deepening culture of responsibility for the landscapes we play in and call home. When most people think of caribou, they usually think of the massive herds of Barren-Ground caribou in the Arctic. Mountain caribou, however, are a unique sub-species that is particularly adapted to the rugged mountains of the Pacific Northwest. They have long depended on the remote habitat that humans now use for lumber, hydropower, energy, and recreation. While these creatures are resilient in some ways, they are highly vulnerable to these human-caused stressors. Currently, only 10 caribou remain in the last herd that crosses back and forth between the United States and Canada. The total population of mountain caribou is estimated at less than 1,300 across all of British Columbia. Caribou numbers continue to decline despite numerous ongoing efforts to conserve these animals. There are controversial restrictions on logging and winter recreation, and predator control. While these challenges are daunting, and while our destructive capacity as a species can be overwhelming, we also have the capacity to create systems of living that can contribute to the living world and not just deplete it. As National Geographic Explorer Wade Davis said in the film, “To me, this … is not a dearth of economic options, it’s a dearth of imagination.”

Left: Marcus stops to inspect some mountain caribou tracks in a high subalpine meadow in the Canadian Rockies. David Moskowitz



The inland temperate rainforest of B.C. and the U.S. is critical habitat that the mountain caribou have evolved with for eons. It is these globally unique and ancient forests that stand as refuge for the remaining caribou, among many other species. Marcus Reynerson

During one of our earliest excursions in July 2015, we set out to photograph a herd of mountain caribou in the Columbia Mountains of south central British Columbia. We were bushwhacking through a mix of dense forest and steep, rocky slopes thick with slide alder for the better part of a day. After covering a little more than a kilometer in over four hours, we threw in the towel and headed down. Before getting back to the old logging road where our truck was parked, as the forest opened up at lower elevation, I rounded an old stump and lying before me was a beautiful shed antler of a caribou. Knowing that these animals evolved with, and depend on, old-growth for their livelihood, I was very present to the tragic irony that not far down slope was a broad band of clear-cut rainforest, likely not more than a few years old. What must this animal have


thought or felt, traversing his stomping ground, when he first came into a new world where the familiar trees that long stood as refuge were now gone? It was questions like this that invited us onto a much bigger journey to explore the story of the whole ecosystem from which these animals come: the inland temperate rainforest. While the vast majority of temperate rainforests are coastal, there are a few small inland areas on the planet that have the unique blend of geographical and climactic factors conspiring to create temperate rainforest even hundreds of miles from a coastal system. However, nowhere else on the planet do all of these factors come together to produce a widespread rainforest so far from any coastline in the temperate region of the world. In most cases, according to University of British Columbia lichenologist Trevor Goward, “these other inland rainforests across the globe have been cut down long ago. This one we are just getting to now.” While I was certainly compelled by the wild landscapes—the plants, trees, animals, and mountains—we were exploring, some of the most fascinating and most challenging aspects of my work on this film were around exploring the hearts and minds of humans, and the ways our species is choosing to live in the 21st century. Conservation issues are social issues and they will ultimately fail if they do not work for the people. In this particular case, this story shows up in the working class rural communities who are making a living from the resource industries, and it shows up in the numerous First Nations who have been here for thousands of years, now struggling to preserve THESE PLACES ... some of their traditional ways of living in a modern world. It SHOWS US THE SAME also shows up in the outdoor BEAUTIFUL, AND AT adventure classes who mostly relate to these landscapes TIMES, CONFUSING through recreation and a COMPLEXITY IN desire for solace from an everincreasing pace of life. What OURSELVES THAT is oftentimes a playground for many of us who leave the MAKES US HUMAN. comforts of our homes to seek adventure, is a home in and of itself to others—both human and nonhuman. In some cases, it’s their last refuge. As people who love and care for these places, it’s important that we remember that. Throughout this project, I felt daunted at the enormity and complexity of the challenges we are facing. There were numerous times during my semester with NOLS when I felt like I could not keep going, either physically or emotionally. There were times when I was scared, or fatigued and run down—sometimes all at once. The tools passed along during my course helped me develop resiliency and persistence, and an ability to see complexity, and at times, confusion, as an opportunity. While I was excited to step into a project that would bring me into some incredibly wild places, I was also unsure if this was work that could actually succeed in making a difference. I wondered if it was going to end up just becoming a requiem for yet another species that

EXPOSE humans have driven from existence. At this point, I am still not quite sure which it will be, but I am honored to be part of an attempt to stir the hearts and minds of people about the magnificence and diversity of the one planet we call home. As these magnificent landscapes continue to dramatically change, the resulting impacts will be felt broadly. While some the impacts are extremely concrete, such as pollution, forest fires, and loss of biodiversity, others are far more subtle in the short run. In the age of short attention spans and sound byte culture, we may be tempted by quick fixes and easy answers, but the truth, however, lies in the murky complexity of it all. It is not just economic capital out there in these places. There is imaginative capital that comes from having wild, open, primeval places in our lives. Our species needs places with layered and rich complexity, both human and non-human. These places offer us a mirror, as it were, that shows us the same beautiful, and at times confusing, complexity in ourselves that makes us human. A year and a half later, I was sitting in my apartment, watching the crisp January weather give way to our more typical grey and rainy winter on the west slope of the Cascade Mountains. I noticed the growth of the Douglas firs and western red cedars and watched a hawk snag a vole out in the pasture. My eye caught the antler that I found in the Columbia Mountains, hanging on the wall. The flat paddle-like tines, the smooth bone structure that created its curvature and angles. I noticed fragments of moss still stuck in areas where it had been in contact with ground, and all the little scuffs and grooves of where voles and squirrels had gnawed on it for minerals. I found it ironic that the very boards that were the walls of my house, the very wall on which this antler was hanging, could have been from the landscape that animal called home. A landscape that, in spite of it being hundreds of

miles away, does not look or feel all that different from the one right outside my window. My eyes drew back to the antler. Complexity abounds. Keep up with the Mountain Caribou Initiative and the work they are doing at and follow them on Facebook.

Marcus Reynerson Marcus works with the Mountain Caribou Initiative and is also the coordinator for the Anake Program, an internationallyrenowned naturalist and environmental leadership program for adults at the Wilderness Awareness School in Duvall, WA.

Movie poster for the Last Stand documentary. Courtesy of Marcus Reynerson



CURRICULUM | SYSTEMS VIEW OF LIFE By Jamie O’Donnell NOLS Expedition Curriculum Manager

= heat

Overview of systems in nature. Illustration by Eryn Pierce


e have chosen to frame our environmental studies curriculum through what Fritjof Capra calls a “systems view of life.” This approach highlights simple principles that summarize how ecosystems function sustainably. Understanding these principles and learning to apply them to other systems we are part of lies at the root of leadership. This will help us at NOLS and our students live more sustainably and tackle some of the world’s environmental challenges. 1. Ecosystems, like any other system, are networks of many interdependent parts. They can’t be reduced to their parts and still function. The nucleus of a cell can no more survive outside the cell in which it resides than a grizzly bear can survive without the functioning ecosystem upon which it depends. Food (nutrients and energy) moves


throughout a complex web of interconnected organisms. 2. Ecosystems are not linear. They do not predictably move toward some standard ending point. Instead, they are cyclical. Matter cycles through them continuously so it never ends up all bottlenecked in an unusable form of waste. 3. The sun’s energy flows through ecosystems as it is harnessed by plants and then moves through the food web. At each step, much of the energy dissipates into space as heat (a byproduct of breaking apart sugar to power living cells). This results in smaller numbers/amounts of high level consumers (like humans) compared to the large number of producers (plants and algae) needed to support them (us).

The combination of these three principles results in ecosystems optimizing variables. Feedback loops bring balance to ecosystems, albeit an ever changing balance, as variables interact. In this way, healthy ecosystems are sustainable. All the waste is used up and does not accumulate. To fully understand this systems view of life we must include ourselves as part of ecosystems. We rely on them for our basic needs. Our actions impact ecosystems, as we are part of the network of interdependent parts. Human systems often attempt to maximize variables. This results in waste that can’t be easily processed either by us or by ecosystems. The ecosystems we live in are connected to other ecosystems all around the world, even the protected ones we explore during NOLS expeditions. Embracing how ecosystems function provides us a path for integrating into human systems processes and mechanisms that support sustainability. These principles remind us that we are part of a network. We both impact the network and yet are limited by it. We are part of the cycles and yet we influence them. We rely on the limited energy that moves through ecosystems. Ecosystems teach us how we should interact with the world.

Jamie O’Donnell Jamie graduated from a Wind River Mountaineering expedition in 1994. He works as the expedition curriculum manager, as a field instructor, and wilderness medicine instructor.


RESEARCH | NUTRITION AND ENERGY By Shannon Rochelle Research Project Manager


f you were a NOLS student before 2005, you probably remember your rations as pasta and cheese, rice and beans, maybe some incredible bakedfrom-scratch cinnamon rolls or cheese pizza, but very little in the way of meat, unless it came from fish you or your coursemates caught. Graduates of more recent courses likely had the option for summer sausage on their pizza and packaged tuna or salmon in their pasta. Why this change in rations? How well do NOLS rations fuel students’ activities? How many calories does a NOLS student use each day? We have been investigating these and related questions so NOLS students are optimally fueled for their backcountry adventures. NOLS Rocky Mountain Rations Manager Claudia Pearson initiated the first nutrition study at NOLS. In 1999, she analyzed the rations of seven randomly selected courses and found that, on average, they provided 3,200 calories

per person per day. Of those calories, 58 percent came from carbohydrates, 11 percent from protein, and 31 percent from fat. U.S. dietary guidelines suggest that 45-65 percent of calories should come from carbohydrates, 10-35 percent from protein and 20-35 percent from fat. Those same guidelines estimate daily caloric needs for active males aged 15 to 30 to be between 3,000 and 3,200 and for active 15- to 30-year-old females to be 2,400. The total number of calories and the distribution of calories among the three macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fat) all fell within recommended ranges, though the percentage of calories from protein was toward the low end of the range. In response to this study and feedback from students and instructors, packaged fish, jerky, and summer sausage became part of NOLS rations, supplementing the dairy and vegetable proteins that had been an important part of rations since the beginning.

In 2008, NOLS published Backcountry Nutrition by Registered Dietician Mary Howley Ryan to share our knowledge about fueling active students in the backcountry. After the book was published, Professor Cara Ocobock of SUNY—Albany approached NOLS about researching energy expenditure on courses. Her goal was to create a new, improved method to estimate how much energy highly active humans expend under various environmental conditions. Cara’s study participants recorded what they ate, how far they hiked each day, and in winter how many hours they spent shoveling snow. In addition, Cara measured each subject’s body composition (total mass, fat mass, and muscle mass) and resting metabolic rate before and after their time in the field. She estimated in temperate conditions, where days were warm and nights were cool (as in the mountains of Wyoming in summer), the students’ energy expenditure ranged from 2,400 to 4,200 calories per day. She also found the students were, on average, expending more energy than they were consuming. Rations available offered adequate energy, but were not consumed as needed. In response to this finding, NOLS enhanced our nutrition curriculum and increased our emphasis on nutrition education on all courses.

Shannon Rochelle

Left: Packing rations for a NOLS expedition. Tracy Baynes, STEP program Right: Cooking cheesy pasta for dinner in the field. Kaytlynn Welsch

Shannon has been a NOLS instructor since 1999 and NOLS research manager since 2014. She spends her free time running across the mountains and plains of Wyoming with her dog.





he holiday season is quickly approaching, and you are probably wondering what the best gifts are for your NOLS graduate this winter. Your NOLSie may enjoy river sports, such as kayaking or rafting, while another NOLSie may feel more at home in the snow in their skis or on a snowboard. While your NOLSie may enjoy many different outdoor activities, you may not always know all of the necessary gear or gifts to get them to fit their interests. Check out this list below for gifts NOLS grads will love.

1 | For the One Who Loves to Play in the Snow Every expedition graduate remembers having warm drinks in the mornings and evenings of their courses. Because your NOLSie may love to adventure out into the cold weather, they’ll need a gift that will help them stay warm and cozy during meal times. A durable mug to use in the backcountry, as well as the frontcountry, as a gift this holiday season is the best way to bring back memories of having a cup of hot chocolate or tea in the company of their coursemates.

2 | For the One with Cold Feet Toasty toes make outdoor adventures all the more satisfying. A NOLSie can never have too many socks in their closet. Wool socks are gifts to your NOLSie that will be used time and time again. Wool socks vary from lightweight running socks to thicker hiking or mountaineering socks. For whatever their adventure is, wool socks are a must have.

3 | For the One Who’s Afraid of the Dark Imagine a camping or backpacking trip.


Find these items NOLS grads will love and more at Kirk Rasmussen

By the evening, it’s difficult to see your trip mates and navigate your way through your gear. Flashlights are heavy and bulky to carry. It is hard to maneuver cooking, or setting up gear, when you need both hands and one is occupied. Choose a smaller, lighter, and hands-free option for their outdoor adventures. A headlamp is the perfect gift for them to navigate nighttime in the backcountry.

4 | For the One Who Would Trade the Snow for Sun If your NOLSie is the type to prefer warm weather and sunshine, they’ll need a gift to fit their summertime preferences. A pair of sturdy, polarized sunglasses are the ideal gift for someone spending substantial time in the sun. Whether they’re on the water, in the field, or having a relaxing day at the beach, polarized sunglasses are essential.

5 | For the One Who Is the Everyday Adventurer A good daypack is perfect for a single day hiking trip to carry all of your NOLSie’s snacks, water, and light gear. A daypack filled with a favorite trail mix as a gift this holiday season is great for every daytime adventure without the bulkiness of a larger expedition backpack. Check out the NOLS store at store. for your outdoor holiday shopping needs!

Taylor Owens Taylor was the Summer 2017 Alumni Intern at NOLS headquarters. She can usually be spotted paddling a river, skiing the slopes, sipping coffee, or on the hunt for the best breakfast.



By Bailey Roseveare NOLS Rocky Mountain Operations Assistant


re you in need of a go-to knot? We aren’t. The go-to knot around NOLS is the trucker’s hitch. This particular knot is what you need in a time of crisis. If you need to cinch your Mega Mid down, make sure backpacks don’t fly off the bus, put up a tarp, hang a bear bag, tie down boats on a trailer, or even make a quick belt, the trucker’s hitch is the knot for you. You can use it in many different scenarios, and this knot is adjustable, strong, has an easy release, and is easy to learn. Step 1 Find something to tie down. It could be a hay bale, a tent corner, or a lead line on a boat. Step 2 Get a rope or cord. 2.1 Preferably, your rope is long enough to give you plenty of extra room to adjust your knot. (i.e., You would not like your knot to be at the very end of your rope.) Step 3 Tie it down.

whatever object it is on). 3.2 Pull the free end of rope towards you and whatever you are going to attach it to.

release,” pull a bight through the loop instead of the rest of the rope to tie off.

3.3 Make a loop in the tight end of the rope by twisting the rope twice in your fingers and pulling the free end through, as a loop. Tighten the loop so it is sturdy in the rope (a slippery half hitch). 3.4 Bring the free end of the rope around the tree, truck side, or through a metal piece, and run it through the loop you just made. Step 4 Trust it. Step 4.1 If you do not trust your knot, remember that practice makes perfect. Weight your rope, read the directions again, watch a YouTube video, remember Google is your friend, and try again.

3.1 Attach one end of the rope to the object you want to secure with a knot that will hold (unless you are tying it onto something, and then you would tie it to the far side of the truck/trailer/

3.5 Pull the free end tight to create tension in the rope and loop it “around the tree and through the hole.” Pull tight.

Bailey Roseveare Bailey is a Semester in the Southwest grad. She spends her free time in the mountains or on rivers with her dog and close friends.

3.6 If you would like the knot to be “easy




Luckily for us NOLSies, it recently came out in paperback, so grab a copy for some deep thinking on the trail. Reviewed by Dan Kenah, Foundation Relations Officer, © 2016, Robert Moor

By Robert Moor NOLS Grad Robert Moor rightly refers to his book as “an exploration.” In On Trails, he takes us down his own “associative trail,” stringing together seemingly disparate thoughts, from his thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail to ant trails in the jungle, from slime molds to the Silk Road (a fascinatingly small leap), and from the oldest animal trail fossils in the world to the information systems and internet that underlie our daily lives. Robert’s startlingly bright new voice gives the historical perspective you would expect from an exploration of this type, while planting the reader firmly behind his own eyes to glimpse the dazzling richness he sees in simple paths. He even clarifies a thought that has come up in many conversations since I started at NOLS: what is wilderness? Of course any definition falls short of complete, but Robert’s thorough explorations of concepts like this give clarity and depth to ideas that we otherwise can’t put to words, or simply don’t think to. In his own words, “[trails] have been, quite literally, beneath our concern.” Trails are formed as connections between destinations. In On Trails, Robert constructs an intricate web of trails between philosophy, science, history, the depths of human thought, and the simplest of all human actions—walking. Throughout the book, Robert shows us how people and animals shape, and indeed are shaped by, the trails we use.

LIVING SUSTAINABLY: WHAT INTENTIONAL COMMUNITIES CAN TEACH US ABOUT DEMOCRACY, SIMPLICITY, AND NONVIOLENCE By A. Whitney Sanford NOLS Grad Intentional communities are attempting to live a more sustainable life by being nonviolent and embracing simplicity in their lives. In this book, Whitney Sanford examines some of these intentional communities, which are “residential communities organized around shared values, to see how they incorporated these abstract values into their lives.” These communities value creating new patterns of living, eating, and communicating. Living your values is challenging and this book examines how intentional communities are being more mindful and bonding over having a similar lifestyle. By observing, Whitney found making positive choices and adapting to your surroundings benefits the entire community. As an advocate for intentional communities, Whitney visited many of these groups over the course of four years, to observe, learn, and see how they are impacting the world. The lessons of forming a group, simplifying, and relying on your community will resonate with NOLS grads, whether or not they plan to return to the backcountry soon. Reviewed by Kim Freitas, Writer and Leader Editor, © 2017, University of Kentucky

Who Is This? Do you recognize this person? The first ten people to contact us with the correct answer will receive a prize in the mail. The answer to the Spring 2017 issue’s “Who is This” is longtime field instructor, former Patagonia Program Director, and current Development Officer Judd Rogers. When he isn’t working the occasional field course or on the road fundraising, Judd can be found in his hometown of Lander with his wife and two children.


CALL OR EMAIL | 1.800.332.4280 | ALUMNI@NOLS.EDU


GEAR REVIEW | BIOLITE CAMPSTOVE 2 By Rich Brame Alumni Relations Director

• When it’s really cranking, the BioLite CampStove 2 quickly boils water and can include functional accessory cookware to become a legitimate part of your backcountry kitchen. The Challenges • The stove is best suited for adventures where carrying weight is not a problem. Stock-assisted or paddling wilderness adventures, or base camping excursions might be the best activities for this robust piece of equipment. • The stove has a lot of bells and whistles—from its integrated fan, to the battery pack, to its high center of gravity, there are many well-designed but potentially hard-to-repair features that can be finicky, especially on really rainy days. • A little planning can limit your backcountry electrical needs. Many adventurers find it’s easy and inexpensive to carry extra rechargeable batteries or a small, high capacity battery pack.

The BioLite CampStove 2. Rich Brame


he BioLite CampStove 2 weighs just over two pounds and burns small twigs or other forest material as fuel. But the really incredible thing is that the BioLite CampStove 2 incorporates a heat-driven fan providing three watts of electricity to charge USB-linked devices, its onboard battery, or to run an included, 100-lumen light. We recently sent this stove out on a llama-assisted NOLS Alumni trip in Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains. Here’s what our adventurous team learned:

The BioLite CampStove 2 is a well-engineered stove that’s probably most useful for folks with extensive backcountry electrical device needs—people who are also invested in learning the stove’s idiosyncrasies and willing to carry the weight. BioLite’s efficient, smokeless technologies, especially when scaled into larger stoves, can also provide some affordable power to remote households throughout the world. Available from The BioLite CampStove 2 retails for $129.95.

The Cool Part • If you’re in a place where electronic devices like cell phones, cameras, or GPS units are going to run low on juice, then the BioLite CampStove 2 can charge your gear or provide light. • The stove cleanly burns readily available, small fuels like twigs, pine cones, or sticks. In many environments, that’s essentially an unlimited resource.

Rich Brame An instructor since 1984, Rich works at NOLS world headquarters organizing programs, communication, and networking for the global NOLS alumni community.





e all love dessert, but it can be really hard to wait for your dessert to cook after a long day in the backcountry. This recipe earned its

name because the end product never seems to get cooked completely. In our opinion, gingerbread tastes better gooey anyway.

Prep Time | 5 Mins.


Cook Time | 15 Mins.

1. Stir the gingerbread mix and water together. 2. Oil your fry bake and spread in the batter. 3. Cover and cook on low heat for about 15 minutes or until mixture is cooked on top. 4. Scrape out of pan with a spatula and let the finished product sit a few minutes before eating. 5. The end product is chewy and gooey!

Ingredients (Serves 4) • 2 cups gingerbread mix • 6 tbs. water (add more if your batter is dry)

Pro Tip | This recipe is an

alternative to baking with a twiggy fire.


Add chopped nuts, dried fruits, or chocolate chips to the mix before cooking.

1 serving = • Calories 407 • Carb (g) 59 • Protein (g) 3 • Fat (g) 18 • Fiber (g) 1

Scrambled gingerbread with nuts on top makes a delicious dessert. Brent Radewald

Wilderness Medicine Quiz ANSWER | A. Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate.



Chilly weather, f leece pullovers, hot chocolate, and skis are all reminders of the holiday season. It’s also a season to say thanks.


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NOLS Alumni Magazine - The Leader Fall 2017  

The Leader is the alumni magazine for NOLS, a nonprofit global school focusing on wilderness skills, leadership, and environmental ethics.

NOLS Alumni Magazine - The Leader Fall 2017  

The Leader is the alumni magazine for NOLS, a nonprofit global school focusing on wilderness skills, leadership, and environmental ethics.

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