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Mount Baker Ascent 14 Calm Down, Drink Some Water 16 Rescue on the Continental Divide Trail 18

NOLS President John Gans to Retire This Year 20

From the Chair

THE LEADER April 2019 • Volume 34 • No. 2 Published three times a year in April, August, and November.



Kacie DeKleine Kristen Lovelace ALUMNI RELATIONS DIRECTOR


hen John Gans took the lead at NOLS in 1995, Paul Petzoldt thanked him for “putting on the heavy pack.” As John plans to retire now, 24 years later, it’s inspiring to think about his journey—that ever-growing pack—and all that he has shared with our graduates, parents, friends, and supporters. In an interview for the cover story of this publication (found on page 20) writer Molly Herber asked John which of the seven leadership skills—taught as part of NOLS’ core curriculum—feels most relevant to him. John’s reply? Vision and action. “It’s so important that we’re looking toward the future with opportunity and possibility thinking,” he said. “I think we’ve only begun to see what this organization can do.” NOLS experienced exceptional growth during John’s tenure—in the number of students educated, the number of instructors employed, the number of locations established, and the amount of support contributed to our mission. Most notably: scholarships created thousands of opportunities for well-deserving students, the NOLS endowment was established, and the organization invested in its financial future. NOLS is built to last. We established our international headquarters during John’s time, protected important wild classrooms, invested in our curriculum—and added NOLS Wilderness Medicine, Custom Education, and Risk Services to our educational offerings. As John gets ready to put down the heavy pack, I know that NOLS is in good hands, as it has always been our tradition to share that heavy load. John has benefited from a strong and resilient community during his time at NOLS and that community is ever so ready to keep blazing the trail. In times of transition at institutions as complex as ours, a board often asks— do we have the internal capacity to lead in transition and into the future? At NOLS that answer is easy—absolutely.

Marc Randolph Chair of the NOLS Board of Trustees



Brad Christensen ART DIRECTOR


Sandy Chio Molly Herber Brooke Ortel Gary Wilmot Postmaster: Send address changes to NOLS 284 Lincoln St. Lander, WY 82520 The Leader is a magazine for alumni of NOLS, a nonprofit global school focusing on wilderness skills, leadership, and environmental ethics. It is mailed to approximately 74,000 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@ nols.edu or call 1-307-332-8800. Alumni can direct address changes to alumni@nols.edu or 1-800-332-4280. For the most up-to-date information on NOLS, visit www.nols.edu or email admissions@nols.edu. 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 www.nols.edu/leader. Cover photo: Brad Christensen




Teach the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate uncertainty.

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


NOLS in Action | What Bears Ears Can Teach Us


Research | How NOLS Courses Can Help Us Prepare for Extended Expeditions in Space


Featured Location | NOLS New Zealand


How To | Share Your NOLS Story on StoryCorps


Stay Involved with NOLS | Tell a Friend, Share a Story, Come Back, Make a Gift


How To | Blister Care


Alumni Profile | Jimmy Chin


How To | Sketching: A Journaling Alternative


Alumni Profile | Amy Nelson


Reviews | The Ultimate Guide to Whitewater Rafting and River Camping


Alumni Trips | Horsepacking in Wyoming and Hiking Iceland’s Laugavegur Trail


Gear Review | Buffalo Systems Alpine Jacket


Featured Course | Wind River Wilderness - Prime


Nutrition | Eggs McGulch


Alumni in Action | A Rural Surprise: Utah Officials Support National Parks


Recognition | NOLS Awards





Push people to experience the uncertain.


Feature | Mount Baker Ascent

16 Feature | Calm Down, Drink Some Water 18

Feature | Rescue on the Continental Divide Trail


Cover Story | NOLS President John Gans to Retire This Year



YOUR FEEDBACK | LETTERS “The Noble Hotel’s birthday was featured in the last Leader, and I was instantly reminded of the snowball fight we had there—in the lobby. I think the instructors may have started it … but I’m not naming names. (John Gookin may have been involved, but it was 36 years ago; memories grow hazy.) I do remember the students opening their windows to scrape snow off the outside sills to make snowballs, pelting the instructors from the balcony above the lobby. It turned into an epic battle, and a great team building exercise as well! I also remember that during a winter camping portion of our Semester in the Rockies course, some dude named John Gans showed up to do some market research in the field, asking us questions about our experiences. I wonder what became of him. :) If I’m truthful, I’ll admit that I didn’t distinguish myself during the course, though it was a life-changing experience, and laid the

groundwork for significant growth since then. I take with me many lessons learned at NOLS. Everyone in our family knows about “expedition behavior.” I’m happy to contribute a small amount of money each month to pay forward my valuable experiences. Thanks to everyone at NOLS for all that you do.” –Frank Lacey NOLS Grad Mea Culpa Thanks to the reader who pointed out that one paddles a canoe, not rows it, as per a photo caption on page 23 of our fall edition. Thanks also to the reader who rightfully reminded us that celebratory sparklers, as mentioned on page 27 of our fall edition, are actually fireworks, which are banned or illegal on many types of public lands. Thanks for reading The Leader closely and keeping us on our toes!

NEW EXPEDITIONS CATALOG Request Yours Today Learn about the world and yourself on life-changing wilderness expeditions in the U.S. and around the world.





Students gather for a class atop slickrock. Karen DeBonis


ears Ears is a topic that comes up with people of all sorts—indigenous peoples, policy wonks, cattle ranchers, and environmentalists, to name a few. And with good reason: Bears Ears illuminates how private citizens interact with their local and federal governments. But just as often, I’m likely to hear, “What’s Bears Ears?” President Obama designated Bears Ears National Monument in Utah before leaving office, creating a management area a little larger than Delaware. It’s notable for its thousands of Ancestral Puebloan and indigenous cultural sites, and restrictions on mineral extraction. Obama’s order was unique in its designation of the Bears Ears Commission

of Tribes—officials from the Hopi and Navajo nations, Ute Mountain Ute, Ute Indian, and Zuni tribes—intended to have direct input on management plans. This was the first time that indigenous people have had this kind of input about federally-managed lands. Sadly, more people learned of Bears Ears a year later when President Trump issued an executive order to reduce the monument’s size by 85 percent. Last November, when I instructed a NOLS semester canyon section with co-instructors Caitie Quinn and Elsie Freland, our 140-mile loop was within the original boundary of the monument, but outside the new boundaries. Excited to share the Bears Ears story with our

students, we quickly discovered just how complicated this story is to tell. As is typical on a NOLS course, we’d gathered materials and had experience teaching this topic, but we still were taken aback by development we saw in the field, tripped up by a lack of clarity in how the court cases were unfolding. Though we’d talked about voting, calling senators, and leaving public comments, we wondered how best to empower NOLS students to engage in a meaningful way around this issue. These discussions led us to envision developing accessible teaching materials so future instructors can feel more confident presenting a full picture of Bears Ears. Our main focuses for this project are: Does the Bears Ears reduction fit into the generational trauma of lands stolen from indigenous people? Can we connect local ecological degradation with global climate change? And finally, does the reduction of Bears Ears change the story of American conservation? We’re optimistic this project will positively impact students and instructors, and we want to make sure all voices are accounted for as we develop materials for future NOLS students. If you have input, suggestions, or comments, please email ciaran_willis@nols.edu.

Ciarán Willis Ciarán grew up in Portland, Oregon with the hills of Forest Park for his home range. Ciarán first fell in love with the desert in southeastern Utah in 2013 and returns every year. He now lives in Seattle and instructs field courses for NOLS.


Kaylin Colby


41° S, 173° E



By Dan Kenah Development Officer


ia ora from NOLS New Zealand! Welcome to the land of the long white cloud, where you may experience four seasons in a single day. Program director Christian Martin says, “when you enter the location, you may see cows grazing peacefully in our paddocks, hear the hum of the bee hives that house the honey our students bring in the field, or catch a glint of the bucolic Roding River flowing down our northern property boundary.” The location also sets an example of sustainability that we are working to replicate at other NOLS locations with support from Step Forward: The Campaign for NOLS. Christian explains, “we rely on rain collection from the roofs of our buildings for all our water requirements and we have four composting toilets to help reduce water consumption.” Since the location opened in 2003, NOLS New Zealand has grown to host more than 100 students every year. Depending on your course, you’ll have the

chance to kayak or sail next to bottlenose dolphins in the Marlborough Sound, canoe the mighty Clarence River, traverse steep snow-covered peaks, visit a local Maori marae (meeting house), and see some of the most unique flora and fauna in the world. With so many different and stunning ecosystems in such close proximity, choosing to visit this beautiful land is easy. Now you just have to choose which NOLS expedition you prefer.

Nestled beside Tasman Bay in Richmond, NOLS New Zealand is the perfect jumping-off point for exploring the incredible coastline, soaring peaks, and alpine grasslands of the South Island.

In-town staff 10

Skills offered Dive into backpacking, mountaineering, keelboat sailing, sea kayaking, whitewater canoeing, and cultural immersion on New Zealand’s South Island.

Fun Fact

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

Rations Manager Louise Mason’s organic family farm just up the road provides delicious local apple juice for all in-town meals, and beehives on site provide honey for our kitchen and expeditions.

Wilderness Medicine Quiz QUESTION | Your patient has a possible rib fracture from a fall. Your best treatment option is: a) Wrapping tape around the chest to support the rib, b) Lying them on the uninjured side, c) Monitoring for increasing shortness of breath. Answer on page 30. 6 | THE LEADER


STAY INVOLVED WITH NOLS | TELL A FRIEND, SHARE A STORY, COME BACK, MAKE A GIFT By Anne McGowan Development Communications Coordinator


our NOLS course was a powerful, transformative experience. It was hard. It helped you mature. And you still carry lessons from it—on communication, leadership, respect for natural places, and teamwork. But your course was years ago. How, you ask, can you stay connected to NOLS now? It can be as easy as telling a friend, telling a story, coming back, or making a gift.

Tell a Friend Jonathan Weaver heard about NOLS from a family friend. An outdoor kid growing up, Jonathan took a NOLS Rock and River course after conversations with Taylor Boyd, who completed a Semester in Patagonia in 2008. Now a NOLS Wilderness Medicine EMT admissions officer, Jonathan’s story isn’t unique. Word of mouth is a powerful way to convey information about a great experience, especially one that requires an investment of time, money, and trust, like NOLS. But Jonathan’s story can be your story, too: telling a friend or family member about your NOLS experience can be the first step in theirs. Visit the NOLS Alumni pages of our website to explore ways to share NOLS with your friends and family. Find more ideas at www.nols.edu/spreadtheword.

Share a Story For many alumni, their courses were filled

with big moments, adventures, and life lessons that still resonate. NOLS is collecting and sharing those stories through an exciting new opportunity with StoryCorps—and we want to hear yours. StoryCorps is a non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve and share stories to build connections between people and create a more compassionate world. It features interviews between two people—family members, friends, partners—who know and care about each other, guided through the process by a StoryCorps facilitator. We want to know how your time with NOLS rippled out to the rest of your life. Learn how to be a part of it at www. nols.edu/storycorps or see the story on page 25.

Come Back Chip Henderson was 63 in 2016 when he took his first NOLS course. In the three years since then, he’s taken a record 13 additional courses, and is on the roster for two more in 2019. Chip’s courses are wide ranging, from horsepacking in Wyoming to hiking in Scotland. Like Chip, you too can do it again—and on alumni trips you can bring your non-grad family or friends with you! Not seeing exactly what you’re seeking? Ask about custom courses. Or, if time is short, connect with other local NOLSies at one of our reunions. For more informa-

tion about how you can stay connected to NOLS—in ways big and small—see www. nols.edu/alumni/stay-connected.

Make a Gift Make a difference in a student’s life by donating to NOLS! Giving creates amazing opportunities for others and supports the school’s mission. And it’s easy, from monthly “set-it-and-forget-it” plans to annual gifts to naming the school in your estate plan. More than $17 million of a $30 million goal has been raised for Step Forward: The Campaign for NOLS, but we’re asking for everyone’s help to support scholarships, campus improvements, sustainability, and immediate support. For ways you can step forward with NOLS, contact the development office at 800-332-4280 or see www. nols.edu/giving.

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

Wilderness Quiz QUESTION | Where (roughly) is the most remote spot in the contiguous United States? (Remote is a subjective term—we found a great article that attempted to define it.) Answer and article on page 30.





“I committed to living the life I wanted to live because nothing motivated me more than being outside, climbing, skiing, pushing myself.”

ou probably know Jimmy Chin as co-director of Free Solo, the Oscar-winning film chronicling Alex Honnold’s unprecedented ascent of El Capitan. You might know him as one of the first Americans to ski down Mount Everest. Or perhaps as a member of the first team to climb the Shark’s Fin on Mount Meru.

Jimmy Chin and E. Chai Vasarhelyi review photos. Courtesy of National Geographic


But what you might not know is that he’s a fellow NOLS grad—and his first experience with the school was working as a receptionist at World Headquarters in Lander, Wyoming. It’s still the only desk job Jimmy has ever had. He soon left the receptionist post behind to take an instructor course in the Gila Wilderness. On this expedition, he learned to “appreciate the craft of teaching...and how rewarding it is to share knowledge.” He considered his NOLS experience a gift: “You learn so many hard skills and soft skills that are yours to keep forever, many of them applicable throughout life.” Living out of his car in Yosemite and working at NOLS wasn’t exactly what Jimmy’s parents had envisioned for his future. And early on, he had some doubts too. But, he said, “I committed to living the life I wanted to live because nothing motivated me more than being outside, climbing, skiing, pushing myself.” Embracing this lifestyle is what opened the door to a unique and fulfilling career path, defined by adventure and storytelling in extreme environments. As he climbed and skied and explored, Jimmy found “purpose and a community of people I loved and appreciated … Every time I committed to something, it led me to something else.” He discovered photography while climbing and skiing, and photography ultimately led him to

filmmaking. He and E. Chai Vasarhelyi, his wife and filmmaking partner, seek to share stories about “experiences that are powerful in our own lives, like the importance of friendship, mentorship, facing your fears, having courage, and being true to yourself.” It’s no surprise that their children have “adventure in their blood.” But, Jimmy said, how the kids choose to define adventure is up to them. “My only hope is that they find something they love and are passionate about, that gives their lives purpose and meaning … I hope they embrace adventure in whatever form that comes in,” whether that’s in the outdoors or beyond. When they’re older, Jimmy plans to give his kids the opportunity to take a NOLS course. In the meantime, he tries to be “as present as possible for all of it”— watching his kids grow up, co-producing and directing films with his wife, and getting out there to ski, surf, and climb.

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




took a gap year between my sophomore and junior years of college and enrolled on a NOLS Semester in the Rockies. I wanted to rethink my path and shake off a preoccupation with comfort. I felt the NOLS motto of “Go big or go home!” calling me. My parents watched in horror as I cashed in my childhood savings and put a deposit on my semester—horsepacking and rock climbing, canyoneering, and winter camping. “Why sleep outside for three months when you have a bed here?” asked my bewildered mother. My dad hardly spoke to me, dismayed by his assumption I was dropping out of school. They ultimately came around, and I did all right for myself in the end, but it took me years to realize that it was because— not in spite of—my NOLS course. It fundamentally changed me, giving me more than all my education combined because it paved the way for all that followed. It stripped bare my assumptions about “comfort,” and built a personal truth: people are capable of more than they think. “Plus est en vous” read the baseball hat of one of my instructors. “More is in you.” Yes, I realized, I can hike more miles, and climb taller mountains than I thought. Weak and out of my element at the outset, I felt strong and lean by the end. I took risks and leaps that taught me obstacles aren’t limitations. As in NOLS

“It fundamentally changed me, giving me more than all my education combined because it paved the way for all that followed.” avalanche training, I discovered when to fight like hell to stay afloat. As in NOLS flash flood training, I discovered when to point my feet downriver and ride the current. I sought challenges after my course, running two marathons, studying neuroscience, training with a maître fromager to learn the art of aging cheese. Hankering to go west again, I cooked professionally and skied in Jackson Hole, then completed a Master’s degree in Paris, taught in French. I moved to Berlin for a year with my daughters, where we learned German, rode camels in the Sahara, skied in Bulgaria, and explored Germany by train. These things forced a shift from looking inside myself to seizing what lies ahead. It’s taught me strategy and resilience, and given me tools to face challenges. I’ve failed and floundered and taken risky gambles—and recovered. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I hadn’t taken my NOLS semester. I work now researching and making policy recommendations to mitigate risks from weapons of mass destruction and emerging technologies. But I keep my cowgirl boots in the back of my closet. And if my daughters, now eight and four, someday decide to cash in their savings to take a NOLS course, I’ll be right there, cheering them on.

Amy Nelson, on skis, pulls a sled during her 1997 Semester in the Rockies. Courtesy of Amy Nelson

Amy Nelson Amy J. Nelson, PhD, is a Research Fellow at the Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction at National Defense University and is currently writing a book on next-generation arms control.





OLS Alumni trips specialize in adult and family-oriented adventures all over the world. Our trips are for our alumni and their guests, and cater to the interests and learning styles of our participants. Join a trip somewhere that’s new to you and trust NOLS to run the show.

NOLS Alumni Reunions Thanks for another fantastic reunion season last fall! From Santa Monica to Lake Placid and eight cities in between, we gathered to build local NOLS communities nationwide. Whether you graduated from a two-day Wilderness First Aid course or an 80-day Semester in Baja, reunions offer a chance to reconnect with NOLS and make new connections in your locale. We’re gearing up for spring, so watch for reunion invitations in Denver, San Francisco, Seattle, and more. Or check out our reunion webpage: www.nols.edu/ reunions. Friends and family are always welcome!

We have a wide variety of offerings every year and are always adding new trips to new places. If you don’t see what you’re interested in or the dates don’t line up, contact us; we build custom trips as well. For more information or to sign up call 1-800-3324280 or visit www.nols.edu/alumni.

1. Horsepacking in Wyoming DATE | August 8-17, 2019 & September 8-17, 2019 (10 days) COST | $2,385 Wyoming’s Wind River Range was explored largely on horseback in the 1800s. On this trip, you’ll experience the challenges and benefits of traveling in this time-honored way. Ride with a train of horses to camp, fish, and learn, focusing on Western horsemanship, herd dynamics, horse behavior, and Leave No Trace camping. Moderate


Loading and caring for horses in the backcountry is hard work.

2. Hiking Iceland’s Laugavegur Trail DATE | July 17-24 and July 25-August 1, 2019 (8 days) COST | $3,495 (includes pre- and post-trip lodging in Reykjavik) Join us for a challenging and scenic backpacking trip in Iceland as we hike from hutto-hut under the midnight sun. This trip travels the Laugavegur route, one of Iceland’s most iconic trails. Highlights include dramatic topography, Lake Alftavatn, incredible flora, and glaciers that drain into wild, raging rivers. Moderate


Sleeping in huts lightens your backpack, but long trails and fickle weather make this trip challenging.

Nicholette Hilbrich




Lynn Petzold

Henry Stanton

FEATURED COURSE WIND RIVER WILDERNESS - PRIME By Anne McGowan Development Communications Coordinator


ristine lakes, cool mountain breezes, and wildf lowers aplenty—Wind River Wilderness - Prime includes all the rugged Wyoming mountain beauty and camaraderie of the classic (and original) NOLS course, but it’s specifically created for adults ages 23 and up. A resident of Lander, Wyoming— the hometown of NOLS International Headquarters and the Rocky Mountain location—Carol King was 64 years old when she signed up for Wind River Wilderness - Prime in the summer of 2017. Carol lived in Lander for decades, camped in the Winds with her family, and counted two of her children as NOLS graduates before she decided it was her turn. She’s a fitness buff who has competed as a walker in marathons, hiked Pikes Peak in a timed race, and worked out regularly at a gym prior to her course. “Still, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Carol said of her course. “And the most rewarding.” A typical day on the two-week-long course has students hiking over snowpatched mountain passes carrying 45-pound packs (horses carry part of the load), descending into glacial valleys, and

learning to read a map to locate an alpine lake. The next day may be spent learning how to safely cross a river, trying a hand at fly fishing, or cooking pizza on a camp stove. Every night means lashing down a tent with trucker’s hitches and falling asleep as stars twinkle above and, occasionally, packhorses snort nearby. Students hike as many as 40 miles, on and off trail, split between heavy hiking days and lighter ones. Layover days allow the group to take advantage of a particularly beautiful campsite or an especially good fishing hole. There may even be an opportunity to summit a peak. While Carol was the oldest of her coursemates, the student makeup was typical for a NOLS Prime course, including a 40-year-old college professor, a 30-something nurse, a stay-at-home dad, and a 23-year-old college senior. “I really enjoyed getting to know them,” Carol said. Developing teamwork and learning technical skills like erecting a tent and mastering dinner cooked on a camp stove are “measurable lessons” she took away from the course. “The first night, it took us a while to figure out how to

set up our tent, but by the end of those two weeks, we could set it up in five minutes f lat! And I can also make really delicious scones on a Primus camp stove,” she laughed. Carol’s best lesson? Her NOLS course confirmed her persistence and tenacity. “Life sends you obstacles, and I’ve dealt with them, but I’m confident now I can do whatever I set my mind to!” Request a catalog for information on this or any NOLS course at info.nols.edu/requesta-brochure.

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





outhern Utah is a land of contrasts. High peaks border deep canyons. Wide slickrock plateaus divide narrow, winding washes. Sought-after resources like coal, uranium, and natural gas lie beneath open space, wildlife habitat, and crystal skies. National parks, with their focus on visitors, are rimmed by rural communities with agricultural roots. Unsurprisingly, Utah’s contrasts include conflicting views on economic development and how public lands and National Park Service (NPS) units affect local prospects. This conflict isn’t new, but it has reached unprecedented dimensions with recent Trump administration reductions of southern Utah’s

Former NOLS instructor Randy Aton is a city councilman in Springdale, Utah. Courtesy of Randy Aton


newest National Monuments: Grand Staircase Escalante and Bears Ears. Some of Utah’s elected officials’ views run counter to the region’s sometimes anti-Park Service positions. From big cities to small rural hamlets, a segment of city councils, commissioners, and mayors recognize the sustainable economic benefits of national parks. Recently, a consortium of officials signed on to amicus briefs that support the contesting of President Trump’s truncation of the parks. Meet Springdale, Utah (population 600) city councilman Randy Aton. A resident since 1979 (when the towns bordering Zion National Park had about 1 million vs. 4.5 million annual visitors today), Randy has seen plenty of change in the community. He also brings an unusual perspective: he’s a rock climber, river rafter, power plant-based civil engineer, and a former NOLS instructor. I visited with Randy about the intersection of his views on public lands and his position as a rural Utah city councilman. Elected to the Springdale council in 2018, Randy’s sole agenda is to keep the town a vibrant, pleasant place to live. That’s no small feat given that Zion National Park, on the town’s eastern border, is increasingly flooded by visitors. Randy is attuned to the pressures that tourism puts on the community’s infrastructure, business district, and citizens, but he’s simultaneously enthused by the sustainable economic vitality it allows. Randy is not surprised by the support many rural politicos have shown for Trump’s NPS acreage reductions. Many folks are angered by the lack of local involvement in the recent park border changes, and all know how important park visitation is to local economies. Springdale has had a strong outdoor vibe

since Zion was created in 1919, so supporting National Parks is an easy step for many. Activism. Outdoorism. Community involvement. These are things that Aton sees as logical outgrowths of his NOLS involvement. “I always loved NOLS courses. I could see the change in myself and in the students. The transition from day one when everyone is tied to their in-town stuff—jobs, food, beer, whatever, but then everyone becomes aware of the wilderness. Leadership starts with the simple stuff like picking up your pack and by the end they morph and find abilities within themselves to be leaders, active members of the community engendered with a love for wilderness and an appreciation of how it helps people turn their lives around. “Too often, folks in positions of power just don’t understand wildlands. They see a blank spot on the map and lust for ways to help them make money today. I’m grateful for my time at NOLS that helped make me what I am today—someone with a grounding in wilderness who is willing to step up and be involved in local decisions in my community.”

Rich Brame Director of Alumni Relations and Instructor Rich Brame came to NOLS as a Fall Semester in the Rockies student and worked his first course at Wind Cave National Park in 1984.


RECOGNITION | NOLS AWARDS Presented in Lander at the October 2018 Annual Meeting

Kelsey Wicks

2018 In-Town Award Recipient NOLS’ Three Peaks Ranch manager was a horsepacking student, intern, and horse packer at the ranch before stepping into her current role. An instructor since 2011, Kelsey’s worked more than 95 weeks in the field, returning to the ranch every summer to manage 70 horses and a team of 12 people.

Alison Hudson

2018 Combined Field/In-Town Staff Award Recipient Instructor, Faculty Summit Manager, and NOLS Intranet Manager, Alison is known for her bigpicture vision and commitment to using technology to enhance the user experience. She expanded the impact of the Faculty Summit, facilitated Google Drive training, and helped us understand how technology and social dialogue deepen the NOLS mission.

Shannon Rochelle

2018 Combined Field/In-Town Staff Award Recipient An instructor since 1999 and NOLS’ Research Manager since 2014, Shannon contributes to the knowledge base for NOLS in her in-town role, and is relied on in the field for her insight into group dynamics and ability to consistently deliver quality course outcomes.

Miho Aida

2018 Alumni Achievement Award Recipient Miho Aida is an award-winning documentary filmmaker (The Sacred Place Where Life Begins: Gwich’in Women Speak), giving voice to marginalized communities and women of color. A threetime NOLS graduate, she is the equity and inclusion coordinator for the nonprofit NatureBridge.

Kurt Peterson

2018 Alumni Service Award Recipient Former Trustee, mountaineering instructor, and volunteer, Kurt works tirelessly to build collaboration between NOLS and numerous notable organizations. A 1972 Mountain Guide course graduate, he became a career lawyer, seeing program and business opportunities and connecting them in ways that boost the school’s reach.

Jessica Wahl

2018 Stewardship Award Recipient As the Outdoor Industry Association’s Government Affairs Manager, Jessica promotes recreation policy goals and the outdoor industry agenda in Washington, D.C. A voice for outfitter interests, and co-chair of the Coalition for Outdoor Access, she built bridges between outfitters and key influencers in the federal government.



MOUNT BAKER ASCENT By Brandon McWilliams NOLS Grad



Top: A trio of students take in the view from the summit of Mount Baker. Brandon McWilliams


y bedroom floor is leaking and there’s a marmot in the kitchen. Again. Peeking my head out of the tent, cold air stings my face. Stars glimmer in the predawn darkness and before me rises the mountain, a soaring spire of rock and ice, blotting out the sky. It’s time to climb. My tentmates and I emerge, groaning and swearing, as we layer clothing and hoist on gear-filled packs. When we exit the tent, I realize how lucky we are. The last three days had been rainy, foggy, and windy— and this was one of our last days to climb Mt. Baker. The night before, piled into our instructors’ tent, we decided to gamble on the weather and try an ascent. Now, clear, crisp conditions greet us as we gather with our small group and review the day’s plan. At 3:45 a.m., we step onto the snow. Crampons are strapped on, headlamps flare to life, harnesses are fitted, and ropes organized. Then, in the quiet predawn, we set off up the glacier. Hiking in the bubble of light from my headlamp, I feel I’m the only person in the world. All that’s anchoring me to reality is the occasional tug on the rope connecting me to the team. On these lower slopes, I simply have to plod along, keep rope tension, and watch the surrounding mountains come alive. It starts slowly, shadows appearing out of monochrome darkness. Then color appears. Purples and pinks rise until, suddenly, red and orange burst across the land and sky. We pause in awe as the day breaks, but with thousands of feet to climb, we quickly move on. Two hours in, we encounter our first challenge: a crevasse 500 feet long and immensely deep. Where there’s one crevasse, there are others.

This one’s easily navigated, but it’s the end of my dreamy plodding and the start of the technical leg. Baker is a relatively friendly mountain, and while it’s one of the most glaciated spots in the lower 48, our route doesn’t involve daring ice climbs. Still, one false step could be disastrous, and our group’s demeanor changes. Calls to watch shifting ice or warnings of a crevasse ring across the glacier. Five hours in, we reach the steaming crater of the mountain. Snow is stained yellow from sulfur and minerals. We stop and scarf down snacks as I again take in my surroundings: snow sparkles like sequins in the sun, and directly across the valley I see a wall of rock stretching up, and another behind that, and another beyond that. Calls to pack up break my reverie, and I scramble as the team begins to move. This is the last push; the next stop will be on the summit. We crest the edge of the final ridge, greeted by a vision of crystalline wonder. The summit of Mt. Baker is a couple hundred feet away, and between us is a flat field of four-inch ice crystals. After hours of struggling up seemingly endless slopes and days of seeing HIKING IN THE the mountain from a disBUBBLE OF tance, it’s surreal to be on its top. LIGHT FROM MY This peak is the capstone of a month-long HEADLAMP, I FEEL NOLS expedition—and a I’M THE ONLY personal journey. Going into the North Cascades PERSON IN THE Mountaineering course, I was unsure of a lot of WORLD. things: could I handle the strain and lead when called to? Did I love the outdoors as much as I thought? I learned I was stronger than I believed, and that I can lead, even through cracked-up glaciers or whiteout fog. Most important, though, I loved every second of my time in the backcountry. I felt I belonged out in nature, and that I’d finally woken up to my place in life.

Brandon McWilliams Brandon McWilliams is an English and Environmental Studies student at Seattle University as well as an avid climber, backpacker, general nerd, and lover of overly dramatic music.

Left: Instructors and students, including Brandon McWilliams, second from right in the back row, celebrate at the summit. Courtesy of Brandon McWilliams



CALM DOWN, DRINK SOME WATER By Rachel Dranoff NOLS Instructor




mong the many inside jokes, songs, and silliness that evolve over the course of a NOLS expedition, there was one constant refrain: Calm down, drink some water. As simple as this phrase is, it truly applies to any situation. Whether it’s a difficult decision in the field, a stressful conversation at work, or a heated holiday exchange, there’s no moment when this advice is not in your very best interest. Hydration, clarity of mind, breathing. Peace. It was day three of my first NOLS course as a field instructor. I was with four students in the first hiking group on an Adventure backpacking expedition for 14- and 15-year-olds in the Wyoming Range. Our mission was to locate the group “X” for the day, a camp next to two alpine lakes. After happily hiking for four miles along an unmarked footpath, enjoying the spectacular display of mid-July alpine flowers and our first glorious snowfield, the group left the trail to scout for the twin lakes. After a thorough search, though, no lakes were to be found. We backtracked and bumped into the second hiking group, who’d also missed the mark. After consulting the map with my course leader, we determined the group needed to gain elevation. He encouraged me to lead the search party with my hiking team. As the four students and I climbed up a series of steep slopes, group morale began to lag. We paused for a break at a horse camp, and I pulled out the map. Calm down, drink some water. Our UTM coordinates indicated we were within striking distance, and the topography featured a clear bowl formation. I rallied the group with forced enthusiasm, the refrains of “I would walk 500 miles” reverberating in my head. Where were the mythical lakes? As the group pace slowed to a shuffle, backs bent with the weight of the packs, it became evident I had to deliver the lakes. The group needed me to deliver the lakes. And I did not know with certainty where the lakes were. Calm down, IT’S THE ADVERSE drink some water. Several students plopped down in the DAYS THAT BUILD THE dirt, hot and tired. I crested MOST RESILIENCY, the final slope with the last standing student, a mix of THAT CHALLENGE OUR hope and urgency heavy in my chest. CAPACITIES AND Eeeeeeh! A small, shiPUSH US TO GROW. mmering lake appeared before us. And a large, leafy tree offered a welcome patch of shade. Further exploration of the basin yielded the second lake with panoramic views of mountain peaks. The student and I jubilantly reported back to the rest of our group, as ecstatic as explorers discovering a new world. With relief and contentment, we settled in the shade to wait for the rest of our course to locate the twin lakes. No one was more delighted than I. Later that evening, I shared my experience with the instructor team, particularly the discomfort of leading in the face of the unknown. This was not the last of what I refer to as “Adventure Squad” days. There was the missing-tent-pole day and the ravine-detour day and the vertical-peak-ascent day, among others. But these experiences are the heart of a NOLS course. It’s the adverse days that build the most resil-

Top: Filling a water bottle from a stream. Anthony Samaripa Bottom: Students seeking our “X”, the twin lakes. Courtesy of Rachel Dranoff

iency, that challenge our capacities and push us to grow, students and instructors alike. Calm down, drink some water. I learned the art of leading with confidence during times of uncertainty. And I learned that when absolutely necessary, I can deliver lakes.

Rachel Dranoff Rachel is an art teacher and outdoor educator who is currently pursuing an MA in art & design education at Rhode Island School of Design. She enjoys climbing, anatomical illustration, and trail running.

Left: The best thing you can do when stressed, author Rachel Dranoff recommends, is to calm down and drink water. Vivian Merrill




By Ben Lerman NOLS Wilderness Medicine Marketing Coordinator




hile thru-hiking the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) in 2016, Lenka Jensen came across a hiker she knew well, semi-conscious and collapsed against a tree, deep in Wyoming’s Wind River Range. Her very sick friend was ashen, sweating profusely, and had defecated all over himself. Alone and miles into one of the most remote wildernesses in the lower 48 states, Lenka had what she calls “the confidence not to panic in one of the craziest situations” of her life. Fifty-eight at the time of the incident, Lenka is originally from the Czech Republic and now resides in Los Angeles. Hiking has always been the passion that drives her life, and in 2014 she went on her first long distance trek, the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). “While I hiked the PCT, I encountered plenty of hikers who were hurt. I saw blisters, infections, broken bones, scrapes, and an extremely cold, possibly hypothermic older gentleman. After all of these experiences, I wanted to have as much knowledge as possible to be able to help others in need.” Before setting off on her next thru-hike, the CDT, Lenka took a NOLS Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course, which “was highly recommended by more seasoned hikers.” When she found her friend collapsed on that remote Wyoming trail, Lenka had the skills to jump into action with a practical, improvised response. During her assessment, she found that her patient was severely dehydrated and weak, had a 102-degree temperature, elevated heart rate, bloodshot eyes, and severe diarrhea. He had no structural injuries and his skin, originally gray, was becoming more flushed. He was also “somewhat incoherent but still stubborn as hell.” “I knew that he needed to get out of there as soon as possible. I asked him more than once to press LENKA HAD WHAT his SPOT rescue beacon, but he vehemently refused.” SHE CALLS “THE Reflecting later, Lenka CONFIDENCE NOT TO wishes she had been “more forceful in activating his PANIC IN ONE OF THE SPOT device and getting him out maybe faster by a heliCRAZIEST SITUA- copter.” She considers this TIONS” OF HER LIFE. her one mistake in the ordeal to follow. While trying to find the fastest alternate evacuation method, she administered a hydrating concoction of water, lemon juice, and honey and kept her patient calm and awake. In what became a full 24-hour, overnight rescue, Lenka helped her patient hitch a ride with horse packers to the nearest trailhead and then borrowed a car to drive him 160 miles to the closest town, Lander, Wyoming. All the while, her incapacitated friend drifted in and out of consciousness, almost fell off his horse, and remained intermittently uncooperative. She remembers continually thinking two steps ahead while focusing on keeping her patient awake and hydrated throughout the rescue. After finally getting him to the emergency room the next morning, her friend was diagnosed and treated for advanced bacterial pneumonia








Top: The Continental Divide Trail traverses five states, following the Rocky Mountains from Canada to Mexico. Illustrated by Kacie DeKleine

and severe dehydration. Lenka was told he wouldn’t have survived if he’d stayed on the trail. “The WFR training was one of the best decisions of my life. It was a successful rescue with all the makings of a disaster. Practical knowledge played a big part in this situation. I’m proud of staying calm and absolutely fear free, in part due to my training with NOLS.”

Ben Lerman Ben is a NOLS Wilderness Medicine WFR graduate who works as the pillar’s marketing coordinator. He loves to hike and climb all over the mountain ranges near Lander.

Left: Horse packers took NOLS Wilderness Medicine graduate Lenka Jensen’s incapacitated patient to the nearest trailhead. Lenka Jensen






he sun was up when we summited this unnamed peak. It was spectacular. You could see the Alaska Range, the Wrangells, St. Elias; looking on our classroom in Prince William Sound and thinking of our students paddling there and climbing on Denali. The students with me were thrilled. It was a perfect day, a perfect peak for learning, and on top of that it was the first ascent.” In his 39 years at the school, having served roles from bus driver to marketing director to president, John Gans reaches back to his second summer of instructing as one of his favorite moments with NOLS. It’s a telling moment. Being able to climb an unnamed peak with students requires competence (to respond to the unexpected), judgment (to pick the appropriate objective), and the ability to work with a group of varying skills and experience—all qualities John has demonstrated over the last 24 years as NOLS’ president. In November 2018, John announced his plan to retire in late 2019 as president of NOLS. Under his leadership, NOLS has built a strong foundation that’s set it up for success in a changing world. “John led NOLS into the future,” said Marc Randolph, Chair of the NOLS Board of Trustees. “He built a leadership team that supported innovation and financial stability and evolved the school from an institution focused on the outdoor classroom to one that puts students first.”

From a Kenya Semester to NOLS Headquarters Of course, no one begins as a school’s president. As we teach on our courses, leadership can, and must, be learned through experience. John’s journey to NOLS began as a scholarship student in 1979 on a Semester in Kenya. This semester was a foundational experience, and John would later return to Kenya as an instructor and in his role as operations director. He explains, “When you go to Africa for the first time, it’s for the animals and wildlife; when you return, it’s for the people.” John would go on to teach in Mexico, Wyoming, and Alaska, often spending winters in Baja California until becoming the NOLS Alaska director from 1984-1988. That changed his trajectory from primarily field work to more adminJOHN, IN HIS OWN istrative roles, though he remembers working as an WORDS, HAS ECHOED instructor with particular LEAVE NO TRACE fondness: “Being a faculty member, field or classroom, PRINCIPLES AND LEFT is so connected to students, and easy to see the value and THE SCHOOL “BETTER impact of the experience on THAN HE FOUND IT.” a daily basis.” In all, John jokes that he’s worked at almost every level of the school: as an instructor, driver, issue room staff member, director of NOLS Alaska, Admissions and Marketing director, and Operations director. With all of these roles, he said, “I saw firsthand the importance of those positions and understood the commitment to the mission from everyone who fills these roles.” These are experiences John brought to his role as executive director, serving as the school’s fifth leader in its over 50-year history.

Top: John and wife Steff Kessler near Glacier National Park, British Columbia, Canada with children Noah, Mara, and Duncan in July 2002. Courtesy of John Gans

Broadening NOLS’ Reach When John succeeded Jim Ratz as executive director in 1995, the school was just celebrating its 30th anniversary. Joanne Hurley, chair of the NOLS Board at the time and head of the search committee that helped hire him, reflected on choosing John in the winter 1996 Leader, saying: “The thing that strikes me about John is he’s always looking ahead, looking to build on the values and quality that is NOLS.” Certainly, that future-oriented focus is evident in the priorities John set for the school in his early years and advanced throughout his tenure. In the NOLS history book, the 1990s are the years that “NOLS Matures,” while the 2000s are the years NOLS “Broadens the Scope.” These changes came with a great deal of schoolwide effort and energy as staff and Board members worked to realize big ideas. Of course, realizing those big ideas was not a given. In the early 1990s, the school faced flattening enrollment and lacked a strategic plan. Gretchen Long, NOLS Board Chair early in John’s tenure, remembers a time of “complex decisions.” In setting priorities for the school, they first focused on financial stability that would enable it to grow and be flexible in the changing future.

Left: John Gans sea kayaking in Alaska. NOLS Archives



The Executive Director Team when John Gans was director of Operations. From left: Del Smith, John Gans, Tod Schimelpfenig, Molly Hampton, Mark Cole, and Jim Ratz. NOLS Archives

Gretchen adds, “By the time I stepped off the board, John had set the vision for a vibrant 21st century NOLS, which it continues to be to this day.” As a result, instituting regular strategic planning and establishing the NOLS endowment have had a huge impact. With greater stability, the school was able to plan for and achieve big projects, such as acquiring permanent “homes” in various operating areas, like the farm at NOLS Alaska and the campo at NOLS Patagonia. It also made it possible for NOLS to offer scholarships, which now total over $1.9 million each year—something that would have been impossible to imagine in the days when Paul Petzoldt simply wrote “Pay Back When Able” on a piece of paper as a record of a student’s scholarship. Increased alumni relations have made it possible for graduates to maintain long-term relationships with the school. Reunions, multi-generational NOLS families, alumni trips, even this newsletter, are all part of staying in touch with the NOLS family. Although this financial stability has been key to the school’s success, John describes as “his proudest legacy” the process of defining the leadership curriculum. In the early 1990s, a cohort of senior NOLS staff formed the Leadership Committee to conduct thorough research and define the curriculum. The end result was NOLS’ nationally recognized 4-7-1 model. This model gave structure to


the “magic” that had been happening in the wilderness for years in a way that could be explained to those who had never had that experience. This also meant that the NOLS leadership model could be spread and shared, researched thoroughly as an academic model, taught in college outing programs, and even adapted to other course offerings than the 30-day to semester-length expedition. One of the ways in which forward-thinking decisions helped NOLS reach its greatest number of students was acquiring the Wilderness Medicine Institute in 1999. Founded by Melissa Gray and Buck Tilton, today it’s through NOLS Wilderness Medicine that NOLS serves the greatest number of students, empowering them to care for others in an emergency. Another key element of diversifying and broadening access to a NOLS experience was establishing the Professional Training Institute, now NOLS Custom Education, also in 1999. Through these customized courses, lasting from two days in town up to a month-long expedition, NOLS has learned how to adapt that 4-7-1 leadership model to the needs of a variety of students, which range from astronauts to MBA candidates to the C5 Youth Foundation to military service academies. And the continued quality of NOLS’ course offerings has not gone unnoticed. In a pinnacle moment, NOLS sponsored Expedition Denali, the first all-African American team to attempt to climb the highest peak in North America in 2012. Led by NOLS instructors, Expedition Denali earned the 2012 and 2014 Outdoor Industry Association’s Outdoor Industry Inspiration Award. In addition, NOLS has been continuously accredited by the Association for Experiential Education (AEE) since 1995 and received the Leave No Trace Partnership Award in 1999. Another high-

EXPOSE light came in 2012 when Gans received the honor of being named a White House Champion for Change “for his commitment to youth, wilderness, and leadership.” John, in his own words, has echoed Leave No Trace principles and left the school “better than he found it.”

the constant connectivity has changed students as they come to their courses. But once they’re in the field, you see they’re very much like students always have been.

Which of the seven leadership skills feels most relevant to you right now? Vision and action. It’s so important that we’re thinking toward Preparing for the Next Step the future with opportunity thinking and possibility thinking. In his farewell letter to staff, John wrote, “It has been a gratifying and I think we’ve only begun to see what this organization can do. extraordinary experience to work with all of you, to make the magic happen. I can’t sufficiently express my gratitude to staff, former staff, What are you looking forward to for the advisory council, trustees, donors, alumni, and all who have given of school’s future? themselves for our students and mission. It has been a gift to learn from 1. Keep trying new things. you and share this chapter.” 2. Increase opportunities for financial aid so that anyone As we at NOLS prepare to say farewell to our longest-serving with a passion for the school’s mission can take a course. president, we also look to the future with anticipation and excite- 3. Holding true to wilderness as a core value. ment. Over the course of the next few months, an executive search committee composed of NOLS Board of Trustees members and NOLS 4. That NOLS and our grads help ensure that public lands and wild places have a place 50 years into the future. community members, chaired by trustee Greg Avis, will seek out the school’s next president.

John Gans, in His Own Words What is your favorite meal to cook on a camp stove? Whiznut (baked mac n’ cheese). What is your favorite hot drink? My favorite hot drink morphed: I started with cocoa, then anything to change it up; now it’s coffee. What changes have you seen in NOLS students over time? Today, we reach a broader variety demographically, and have more racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity. As individuals,

Molly Herber Molly loves the smell of her backpack and does her best writing before 7:00 a.m. When she’s not scouting the next post for the NOLS Blog, she’s running and climbing on rocks in Wyoming.

John Gans and NOLS Trustees refine their route during a 2017 Prince William Sound sea kayaking trip. Mara Gans




Mallika Sarma collects blood to measure immune function of semester students. Shannon Rochelle


ow can NOLS courses help us plan for long duration space flight? You may know that NOLS works with astronauts and other NASA staff, taking them into the backcountry for experiential lessons in expedition behavior, teamwork, and leadership. Navigating miles of rocky terrain becomes a lesson in communication and teamwork. Living in a small group for an extended period creates strong bonds and inspires new and successful ways to work together. NOLS students learn to manage limited resources, interpersonal dynamics, and an unpredictable environment. Notre Dame PhD candidate Mallika Sarma sees another way that NOLS expeditions can be helpful in planning for humans’ future in space. Mallika is a graduate student in the Hormones, Health, and Human Behavior Laboratory in Notre Dame’s Department of Anthropology who views NOLS expeditions as excellent analogs for space expeditions. She spent last


summer and fall investigating how interpersonal social dynamics affect stress (as measured by energy expenditure, stress hormone levels, and immune function). Mallika worked with 75 student volunteers on 10 NOLS semesters, investigating how their physiology and behavior changed in response to the novel and challenging environments they encountered during the semester. She used surveys to quantify social support offered and received, friendship, and self-perceived resilience; and she measured body composition, energy expenditure, hormones related to stress and social behavior (cortisol and testosterone), and immune function throughout the semester. The student volunteers contributed saliva samples (for instantaneous cortisol measurements) before, during, and after challenging travel days in the mountains, at the crags, and on the rivers. They gave finger-prick blood samples (for immune function measurements) and fingernail

clipping samples (for long-term cortisol measurements) between semester sections. And Mallika, along with her research assistant, NOLS Instructor Sarah Martin, measured their body composition (weight, lean mass, and fat mass) between sections. Previous work has shown that energy expenditure increases in response to new environments, and increased energy expenditure leads to changes in body composition. Mallika’s preliminary work with 10 student volunteers on two NOLS summer instructor courses suggested that expedition members who offered more support expended more energy than others, and those who saw themselves as resilient expended more than those who didn’t. Friendship alone was unrelated to energy expenditure. Importantly, though, the expedition members who offered more support received more support in return, resulting in no net difference in energy expenditure related to offering support. As Mallika analyzes the hundreds of fingernail, blood, and saliva samples she collected during the fall and is able to correlate those results with body composition and support, friendship, and resilience data, we will gain new insights into how we can bolster performance, increase resilience, and keep group members healthy on extended expeditions on earth and in space.

Shannon Rochelle 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.


HOW TO | SHARE YOUR NOLS STORY ON STORYCORPS By Caleb Walker Social Media Coordinator


OLS has joined the StoryCorps community! Unfamiliar with StoryCorps? It’s one of the largest and most dynamic digital archives of human stories and interviews recorded in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and around the world. Stories are catalogued and housed by the Library of Congress—and yours can be one of them! If you want to listen to stories about NOLS or share your own, it’s fun and easy to do. Here’s everything you need to know: The NOLS Community page can be found at this URL: www.nols.edu/storycorps. You can also search NOLS on the StoryCorps homepage. The archive is optimized both for the web and a mobile app downloadable from the App Store, Google Play, or the Amazon App Store for Kindle. On the Community page, you’ll find NOLS interviews and stories uploaded by fellow alumni and community members.

Want to contribute your story? 1. Create an account. If you’re creating an account through the StoryCorps app, you can use the community code “nols.” Anyone using this code when creating their StoryCorps account will be instantly added to the NOLS community. 2. Choose “Add a New Interview” on your user page and follow the guidelines to upload your story. Easy! 3. If you’re having trouble formulating your story, here are some questions to get you thinking about your own NOLS experience or for interviewing another NOLS alum: • What’s your name, where are you from, and what NOLS course did you take? • Why did you decide to take a NOLS course? • What was the most surprising

The StoryCorps app is an easy-to-use way to share your NOLS story, or listen to others. Kirk Rasmussen

moment on your NOLS course? • What role did wilderness play in your NOLS course? How did your understanding of wilderness change on your NOLS course? • How does your NOLS course continue to impact your personal, professional, or community life today?

tion Lists” and on the NOLS Community page on the righthand side of the page under the same prompt. We’re excited to have this extraordinary resource available for all of our alumni to share their stories with us and each other. We look forward to hearing yours!

• How did your NOLS course change your perspective, skills, and/ or values? • What did you learn about leadership on your NOLS course? How did your understanding of leadership change on your NOLS course? 4. Additional questions can be found on both the NOLS account under “Ques-

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.



HOW TO | BLISTER CARE By Molly Herber Senior Writer


listers, a common occurrence in the outdoors whether you are day hiking, through-hiking, or not even hiking at all, can be debilitating. Blisters are caused by friction—imagine your foot rubbing the wrong place in your boot, or the skin on your hands rubbing on a canoe paddle. Luckily, preventing blisters is fairly simple as long as you pay attention to what your skin is telling you and keep an eye out for the warning signs, as outlined by NOLS Wilderness Medicine.

How to Prevent Blisters • Make sure boots fit properly. • Wear two pairs of socks to decrease friction on the skin, and make sure your socks are free of debris and dirt. • Check your feet (and your friends’ feet!) frequently at rest breaks. • Stop the motion and attend to the hot spot at the first sign of rubbing. • Before you start your activity, apply a solid piece of moleskin or athletic tape to areas that you suspect may cause problems later.

Warning Signs Before you get a full blister, you’ll see (and feel) a red, sore area called a “hot spot.” If the friction continues on the hot spot, your epidermis (layers of skin) separates and fluid enters the space, causing a blister. When you feel a hot spot start to form, it may feel like a waste of time to make the group stop so you can care for it. However, being proactive from the beginning is much better than the alternative of needing to care for a large and painful blister.

How to Treat Hot Spots and Blisters Sometimes, all the prevention in the world can’t stop a blister from forming. Here's what to do when that happens: Hot Spots Cut a circle-shaped piece of moleskin and center it over the hot spot as a buffer against further rubbing. Small Blisters If a small blister has already developed, cut a doughnut-shaped piece of molefoam (thicker than moleskin) and center it over the blister. This creates space between

your skin and whatever was causing friction. The doughnut “hole” also prevents the adhesive from sticking to the tender blister and ripping it away when you change the molefoam. Larger Blisters If the blister is nickel-sized or larger, drain it. • Begin by carefully washing your hands and putting on rubber or latex gloves. • Clean the area around the blister to decrease the risk of infection. • Use a needle that has been soaked in an antiseptic solution, such as povidoneiodine, or has been heated until it glows red, then cooled. • Insert the needle at the base of the blister, allowing the fluid to drain from the pinprick. • After draining the blister, apply an antibiotic ointment and cover the area with gauze. • As with an intact blister, center a doughnut-shaped piece of molefoam over the drained blister and gauze. • Follow up by checking the blister every day for signs of infection. Make sure to pack athletic tape and moleskin or molefoam in your first aid kit so that you’re prepared to treat hot spots before they turn into blisters.

Molly Herber Molly loves the smell of her backpack and does her best writing before 7:00 a.m. When she’s not scouting the next post for the NOLS Blog, she’s running and climbing on rocks in Wyoming.

Check blisters daily for signs of infection. Jared Steinman





ournaling about your outdoor experiences is an established practice among NOLS graduates: it’s a creative way to remember your trip and reflect on your experiences. But words aren’t the only way to commit memories to paper. Architect and NOLS Tanzania Wilderness – Prime grad Mingyuk Chen used her artistic talent to capture memories of her course—and shares some of them here.

Mingyuk grew up in the concrete jungle of Hong Kong and lived in numerous large cities around the world. More than a decade ago, she moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, her current residence, where she first experienced and was immersed in nature’s power. For more of Mingyuk’s sketches and commentary from the artist, see her post on the NOLS Blog, www.nols.edu/ sketches-from-tanzania.

Mingyuk Chen Mingyuk practices architecture at Michael Green Architecture in Vancouver and is passionate about mass timber design and construction. Her hobbies include swimming, knitting, and Chinese calligraphy.



REVIEWS | BOOKS THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO WHITEWATER RAFTING AND RIVER CAMPING Reviewed by Erica Nelson Instructor Reading The Ultimate Guide to Whitewater Rafting and River Camping inspired me to plan my next multiday river trip. Author and NOLS instructor Molly Absolon writes in her introduction that this book is for “newer rafters looking to put together their own multiday river trip,” which hits just the right note for folks who have some experience but are looking to expand their skills. It covers a lot of relevant, basic information without too many details, leaving the reader room to create their own adventure. Molly’s guide touches on basic techniques of paddling and rowing various crafts. It’s a good resource if you’re wondering if you should rent or purchase equipment. The guide also covers gear, including an amazing packing list for personal and group trips, and options if you want to set up a large camp or a smaller one. As rafting is for everyone, I appreciated the author’s perspective on rafting with kids and the things you need to think about, including establishing chores, activities, and tips for packing. When it comes to meal planning, multiday river trips require some special planning. Molly touches on portion size, cooking equipment, how much propane to bring, and other interesting information and important details to help ensure a successful river expedition. As a seasoned river guide, I found this book to be a great resource to help me stay organized. I’ll also use it to help others that I take on the river to help them prepare for a multiday trip. And it would make a great gift for a friend who may not be as seasoned in preparation for when I pull my next river permit. In short, this guide is packed with pro tips that will help ensure a successful river expedition! The Ultimate Guide to Whitewater Rafting and River Camping is available at bookstores and online.

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 Fall 2018 issue’s “Who is This?” is former NOLS HR Director Linda Lindsey. An instructor since 1979 and co-author of NOLS' first wilderness medicine text with Tod Schimelpfenig, Linda Lindsey was also an RN and long-time director of Human Resources at NOLS in Lander. She's looking forward to returning to working field courses for the school.


CALL OR EMAIL | 1.800.332.4280 | ALUMNI@NOLS.EDU


GEAR REVIEW | BUFFALO SYSTEMS ALPINE JACKET By Anne McGowan Development Communications Coordinator

Buffalo Systems Alpine jacket is comfortable in town or in the backcountry. Kirk Rasmussen


heffield, England-based Buffalo Systems Ltd. was founded when mountaineer Hamish Hamilton—creator of the Vango Force 10 tent—sought a better sleeping bag. Intrigued by the Inuit practice of wearing animal hides with the fur against the body instead of on the outside, he expanded the concept to clothing, including the women’s Alpine jacket, which I had the pleasure of testing. Here in cold, dry, snowy Wyoming, I usually favor down jackets, but I liked the Alpine’s high-performance, breathable rip-stop outer shell, and fuzzy Aqua-Therm pile lining—Hamilton’s version of a garment with fur against the body. While I typically reach for a size medium in women’s clothing, the size small that was provided fit me comfortably. In fact, the sleeves were a bit long, though easy-to-use tabs allowed for cuff adjustment. (A little sleuthing on the Buffalo Systems website shows the same arm length for all women’s Alpine jackets, from size S to XL.) Ample zip pockets that extend almost the full length of the front of the jacket can hold plenty, from a cell phone to a pair of gloves to a beanie—and probably all three at once. I loved the slim fit of the jacket, the two-way zipper, and the extended length at the back, reducing the chance that cold wind or snow creeps in while bending to adjust a boot, ski, or snowshoe. In my case, it was ice skates and hiking shoes. I skated and hiked on several

20-degree, slightly windy days while wearing the jacket and—like Goldilocks’ porridge—it was just right, neither too hot nor too cold. The hood tapers back from the builtin visor almost to the ears; I’d prefer more coverage. And while the Alpine weighs more than my favorite down jacket, it also stayed dryer in a Wyoming snowstorm. Last of all, the manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the Buffalo women’s Alpine is a bit north of my down jackets, but don’t let that alone dissuade you. It’s an attractive, quality garment, good for town or backcountry use, and worth your consideration.

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



NUTRITION | EGGS MCGULCH Adapted from the NOLS Cookery



• • • • • •

In a bowl, mix egg, milk, and flour. Slowly add water, stirring constantly to avoid clumping. Pour mixture into a heated fry pan with a small amount of butter. Continue stirring to avoid burning. Remove from heat when eggs reach a scrambled consistency. Add spices to taste. Fry bagel halves face down in 2 Tbs. butter in a pan. Flip over and layer with cheese. Cover and cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese is melted. Top with cooked eggs and salsa or ketchup. Makes one hearty breakfast sandwich.

2 heaping Tbs. powdered egg 1 Tbs. powdered milk 1 Tbs. flour ½ cup water Butter or butter substitute Salt, pepper, and other spices to taste • 1 bagel, sliced • 2 oz. Jack, cheddar, or cream cheese • Salsa or ketchup

Variations: Add fresh or rehydrated onions, green and red peppers, or cooked ham or bacon.

Eggs McGulch start off the morning with protein, carbs, and fat. Nathan Silverglate

Wilderness Medicine Quiz ANSWER | c) Monitoring for increasing shortness of breath.

Wilderness Quiz ANSWER | Inside of Yellowstone National Park. www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-42104894


Hadley Warner


Use your leadership skills to be a force for positive change NOLS and Saybrook University have partnered to offer an innovative master’s program that prepares students to be leaders.

Study leadership theory through online courses and conferences Put theory into action on three multi-week wilderness expeditions Prepare for a career in international and domestic businesses, nonprofits, government agencies, or consulting







THANK YOU! We’re increasing scholarship opportunities, protecting and improving classrooms, and building for the future! And our goal is to do even more.

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Please make a gift by phone, online, or mail in a check to NOLS today to support tomorrow’s leaders. Learn more about Step Foward: The Campaign for NOLS at info.nols.edu/step-forward. 800.332.4280 | NOLS.EDU/DONATE | 284 LINCOLN ST. LANDER WY 82520 32 | THE LEADER

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NOLS Alumni Magazine - The Leader Spring 2019  

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 Spring 2019  

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

Profile for nols.edu