NOLS Alumni Magazine - The Leader Summer 2019

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Meet NOLS’ Program Directors 14 Things I Learned on an Expedition with My Spouse 16 What NOLS Taught Me about Teaching 18

How Winning the Iditarod on Foot Started with NOLS 20


From the President

August 2019 • Volume 34 • No. 3 Published three times a year in April, August, and November.



Kacie DeKleine Elizabeth Simons ALUMNI RELATIONS DIRECTOR



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@ 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: Derek DiLuzio Photography



fter 24 years as NOLS president, this is my last introduction to The Leader. Probably needless to say, it is more than a bit bittersweet as it also marks the end of a 40-year career with this wonderful organization. I came to NOLS as a Semester in Africa student in 1979. I was excited about a learning adventure for my last semester in college. Little did I realize where this expedition would go. I taught courses as a faculty member for many years, directed our Alaska school, filled numerous other positions, and have now served as president. I met my wife at NOLS. All three of our children are NOLS graduates and have worked for the school. NOLS is intimately woven into the fabric of my life. It has been an honor of the highest order to serve as the fifth leader of this remarkable organization. It has also been a gift to personally know all of the previous leaders, going back to Paul. Over the past 24 years, NOLS has both changed dramatically and also held strongly to its core. Teaching wilderness skills and leadership is still our hallmark and the Wind River Range continues to be Mecca for many of our graduates. When I stepped in as president in 1995, I loved the school and its organizational culture, but I was not content with what NOLS was. Rather, I focused on what it could be. I knew we could be a stronger and more significant organization. We have made considerable progress, thanks to all of you. Today, I am still not content with what NOLS is, but it will be up to others and to all of you to discover what we can be. I am sure the future will be impactful, significant, and inspiring. We march into the future with so many incredible strengths. We have a dedicated and committed staff, superb faculty, passionate alumni, outstanding students, and awe-inspiring classrooms. You will find in this issue of The Leader a feature on many of our school directors around the world. They are a dedicated and talented team. We have never been stronger or better positioned for our future, yet significant challenges remain. Our country and our world seem to be increasingly segmented. We must not just reach those students who think like us, but reach across “lines” to reach all students, building a broader NOLS community and making our world better.

I have said many goodbyes at NOLS, from fellow students on my student course, to students I taught, to fellow staff who moved on to other chapters. I’m not sure I’ve ever gotten better at the goodbye process … but I have watched our community grow and watched as students and staff built other communities, spreading our values and curriculum around the world. It takes the edge off the goodbye when I see that influence. So, now is the time for my BIG goodbye at NOLS. It has been an honor, a joy, an amazing educational adventure, a career that has been a great center for a rich life. Through work and effort, study and love, community and heartbreak, failure and success, family and friends, passion and peace, we have built an extraordinary school and community. Thank you for all you have done to make that happen. Best,


2018 | VOL.

34 NO. 1

NOLS Sch olar Bec Fulbright om es Scholar 14 s in 33 Mo nths 16 Teamw Com munic ork and Search and ation in Rescue 18

13 Course

| VOL. 34 NO. 2

St ep Forw ard: The Ca mp aign for NOLS 20


John Gans NOLS President



Mount Baker Ascent Calm Down, 16 Drink Some Water

Rescue on the 18 Continental Divide Trail

NOLS President John Gans to 20 Retire This Year

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

Above: Paul Petzold and John Gans in the 1980s. NOLS Archives



Teach the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate uncertainty.

Recognize the wild that every person faces. From the President | John Gans’ Farewell Letter


NOLS in Action | Run the Red — The Race for a Wild Wyoming Landscape


Curriculum | NOLS and REI Team Up for New Risk Management Courses


Featured Location | NOLS Mexico


Research | Sense of Place Development on NOLS Expeditions


Staff Profile | Kevin McGowan



Alumni Profile | Kennon Later


How To | Take Friends and Family on an Alumni Trip

Alumni Profile | Adam Stolz


How To | Make Coffee While Camping


Gear Review | The Patagonia Houdini Jacket


Reflections | Poems


Nutrition | Cinnamon Rolls


Alumni Trips | Sea Kayaking in the Bahamas and Backpacking New Zealand’s Heaphy Track


Featured Course | Southwest Rock Climbing


Alumni in Action | How a Game of Soccer Turned into a Life-Saving Rescue


Partnerships | How NOLS and C5 Shape Lives





Push people to experience the uncertain.


Feature | Meet NOLS’ Program Directors

16 Feature | Things I Learned on an Expedition with My Spouse


Feature | What NOLS Taught Me about Teaching


Cover Story | How Winning the Iditarod on Foot Started with NOLS




NOLS IN ACTION | RUN THE RED—THE RACE FOR A WILD WYOMING LANDSCAPE By John Burrows Former Environmental Stewardship Coordinator

The race for a wild Wyoming landscape.

Wyoming Public Lands Day


f we’ve learned anything over 54 years at NOLS, it’s that the landscapes we operate on speak for themselves—if we can get people out there to experience them. That’s the idea behind Run the Red Desert Race, a running race in Wyoming’s spectacular Red Desert. The name “Wyoming” probably came from a Delaware Indian word meaning “at the big plains,” and there’s no better example to represent this than the Red Desert, in the southern foothills of the Wind River Mountains. These 600,000 acres of sweeping country are blanketed with sage, rich with wildlife, steeped in cultural significance, and teeming with backcountry recreational opportunities. Each spring, NOLS takes students into the Red Desert to teach horsepacking courses from our Three Peaks Ranch. As one of the largest unfenced areas in the contiguous United States, there are few other places where we, or anyone, can ride the open range for days without crossing a major road or development. In the last year, though, hundreds of oil and gas leases were offered across the desert by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the state of Wyoming. If developed, these leases would call into question


NOLS’ ability to continue operating on the landscape. What is NOLS doing about this? Our Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability team has been working hard to address the threat of oil and gas development in the Red Desert. We’ve met with the governor’s staff, talked with BLM officials, and voiced our concerns as outfitters to local decision makers. Our efforts are slowly gaining traction, promoting a new narrative around the importance of the sustainable recreation economy in Wyoming. But winning the struggle to keep the Red Desert open and undeveloped requires more than conversations with Wyoming ’s leaders; it requires building broader public support and awareness. With the fate of the Red Desert still largely undecided, our next step is to introduce people to this landscape by racing across it. Run the Red will begin and end at historic South Pass City on Wyoming’s newly created Public Lands Day, September 28. You’re invited to join us and see what this landscape is made of. Learn more at: run-the-red.

A participant is happy to “Run the Red.” Claire Cella

John Burrows John is a field instructor and the former environmental stewardship coordinator for NOLS. He moved to Lander in 2017 and hasn’t looked back East since.


Lynn Petzold


26° N, 111° W


By Anne McGowan Development Communications Coordinator


n 1970, Tap Tapley, one of NOLS’ first instructors, fell hard for Baja California and the Sea of Cortez, and dreamed of starting a NOLS branch there. He convinced Paul Petzoldt and their wives to join him in exploring the area, and by March 1971, NOLS Baja—now called NOLS Mexico—was in operation. The first course that was launched from the location was two weeks long and run from a base camp. It included eight students. By 1974, the location supported six courses. The base camp model existed until 1975 when Tap left NOLS after Paul made his exit. Instructors kept the program going, transitioning from base camps to the classic expedition format still used today. NOLS Mexico’s status as the school’s first international campus, coupled with the team’s cultural, generational, and language diversity, give it a vibrant, welcoming atmosphere. It’s situated in a land of stark contrasts: ocean and desert, cactus and pine, teeming seas and sparse shores. Located in the protected Coyote


Bay, it offers access to more than 1,000 miles of mountain and marine environments across two Mexican states. And the remote location means the campus operates completely off the grid, producing solar power for all services. Baja California wilderness classrooms range from open ocean to coastal desert—and the outdoor skills students learn range from camping and backpacking to sailing and sea kayaking. Whether backpacking in the Sonoran Desert or paddling in Conception Bay, students soak in a new landscape and culture as they learn lifelong outdoor skills.

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

Nestled in Coyote Bay, Baja California

In-town staff 14; 4 are year round

Skills offered Camping, backpacking, sailing, and sea kayaking. You can improve your sailing skills and develop your leadership style with a week-long NOLS Baja Coastal Sailing - Prime course.

Fun Fact NOLS Mexico has one of the world’s largest fleets of Drascombe Longboat sailboats, especially well-suited to NOLS expeditions because of their capacity to stow weeks of food stores.

Wilderness Quiz QUESTION | What five countries in the world hold 70 percent of the remaining wilderness on the planet? Answer and article on page 30. 6 | THE LEADER


STAFF PROFILE | KEVIN MCGOWAN By Aimee Newsom Alumni Relations Coordinator


hen it comes to longevity, few can match the four decades Rocky Mountain Outfitting Manager Kevin McGowan has spent working at NOLS. Fewer still have made the same lasting impression on so many students and staff during their tenure. “The number of people who know or remember Kevin from their time at NOLS is impressive,” says one such co-worker. “He’s respected on so many levels.” Kevin grew up in south-central Pennsylvania and was introduced to long-distance backpacking as a teen by his wrestling coach. He first discovered NOLS while working at a bookstore when a copy of Paul Petzoldt’s Wilderness Handbook caught his eye and held his attention. With very little idea of what he would find there and no knowledge of NOLS beyond Paul’s book, Kevin decided he wanted to be part of it. In the summer of 1977, he packed up his Chevy Biscayne and drove to Wyoming. After securing a position in the NOLS Rocky Mountain outfitting department, Kevin took an outdoor educator course in 1978, followed by an instructor course in 1979. He taught courses throughout the 1980s while working as the equipment manager at NOLS Alaska. Eventually, he returned to Lander and was, in 1997, named Outfitting Manager. He has remained there ever since. An extensive history of instruction and outfitting means Kevin has a deep understanding of what works best in the

backcountry. He’s built strong relationships within the outdoor industry and helped manufacturers understand the unique needs of NOLS students. Popular brands often send their newest creations to Kevin for feedback, which he provides with honesty and expertise. He cites Mountain Hardware and Deuter as examples of companies that create custom gear specifically for NOLS based on his experience and recommendations. Despite his skill as an outfitter, Kevin hasn’t weathered 40 years of challenge and change at NOLS for the sake of hiking boots or backpacks. What keeps him engaged year after year is the opportunity to see positive changes in students returning from a course with newfound knowledge and confidence. He celebrates the successes of instructors coming back from the field, too, and understands better than most the difficulty of their position. He encourages instructors to “be who you are, have fun, and recognize the talent around you. Appreciate and learn from each other’s strengths.” Kevin enjoys mentoring his outfitting staff in the same way and believes good expedition behavior is vital in the workplace. By his own admission, Kevin is no extrovert, but you wouldn’t know that from the way he seems to draw energy from his community, coworkers, and students. “You just never know who’s going to walk through that door,” he muses. And he wouldn’t want it any other way.

Kevin McGowan staffs the cash register in the NOLS Rocky Mountain issue room. Clair Smith

Aimee Newsom Aimee always chooses tea over coffee and never leaves home without a book. She loves exploring Wyoming with her husband and their Great Dane, Dunkin.

Wilderness Medicine Quiz QUESTION | NOLS’ recommended evacuation criteria for abdominal pain include: a) Cramping pain and gas for three hours, b) Pain that has persisted for more than 12 hours, c) Moderate pain with one episode of diarrhea, d) Moderate pain for six hours without fever. Answer on page 30. NOLS.EDU | 7




“I don’t know how my life would be different if I hadn’t experienced this challenge on the mountain; it changed my outlook on life.”

hat was the defining moment of your NOLS course? Mine was utterly terrifying, but it was the clearest my mind had ever been. There I was … hanging off a granite rock face glazed with ice. Frankly, I was petrified. I was the leader that day on my Waddington Range Mountaineering course two years ago, and our day’s goal included passing over a saddle—a low point on the ridge. Approaching the top, we realized that our map had been, well, a bit light on the contour lines and that the predicted steep decline was, in fact, a steep rock face. After much deliberation, our team and accompanying instructor decided to lower and belay each other down, and I was second. As I began lowering myself, I sud-

denly slipped and spun off balance. My world became a strange mix of chaos and silence. As I hung there in the whirling wind, I tried to calm down and communicate with my team. I felt alone. My abilities, belay rope, and nylon harness were the only things upon which I could count. Despite my precarious position, bliss and confidence flowed into my body. It was unlike any feeling I had felt before or since. I reached up, grabbed the taut rope in my cold hands, and flipped right side up. I began traveling down as the rope slowly slid, giving me just enough slack from above. I hadn’t reached the bottom, but I was breathing again. In that moment on the rope, I realized I was capable of so much more, physically and mentally, than I ever

thought possible. I felt helpless and at the same time, in total control. I was the master of my circumstances. Just as a shooting star disappears within seconds, my feeling of fear dissipated as I turned to myself and my training for my deliverance. I don’t know how my life would be different if I hadn’t experienced this challenge on the mountain; it changed my outlook on life. Before this episode, I climbed with fear as my first thought. I now realize fear had governed my daily life too. I’d often guarded my feelings out of fear of judgment or of standing out. However, that slippery rock descent in the Waddington Range infused me with confidence and gratitude. I often wonder whether and how other people achieve this sense of freedom. I know that if I had not learned—and had not been forced—to trust myself and that harness, I would not know how capable I truly am. This knowledge propels me in my daily life and onward to more mountain adventures.

Kennon Later North Carolinian Kennon Later is a three-time grad who returned last month from a NOLS Denali Mountaineering course.

Kennon Later in the Waddington Range. Courtesy of Kennon Later



ALUMNI PROFILE ADAM STOLZ By Dan Kenah Development Officer


hen Adam Stolz signed up for his Wilderness EMT in 2013, it was an opportunity to learn practical skills related to his previous work in emergency management and then in healthcare consulting. But just a few months after his course, he stood in an ER in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, improvising a splint for a fracture from a motor vehicle accident. Adam went to Haiti to volunteer at L’Hôpital Bernard Mevs with Project Medishare for Haiti, a volunteer organization with a similar model to NOLS in that they “train the trainers.” The ultimate goal is for the Haitian community to staff the hospital. Until then, volunteers from abroad, like Adam, fill shifts at the facility so local healthcare workers can take time to receive necessary medical training. The hospital is the only critical care facility in the area, making it the sole resource for a lot of acute issues. “There’s virtually no EMS system here, so when patients show up at the gate in a pickup truck, you’re often doing what you would do in the field in the U.S.” Many of the volunteers Adam worked with were full-time healthcare providers with years of experience. Still, Adam says, “I felt well-prepared by my WEMT course to be a meaningful part of a care team. I understood my role, understood what the team had to accomplish in a given situation, and how I could contribute effectively to patient care.”

“My NOLS training made me very comfortable in a situation that other people with only hard-skills training might not be.” One of Adam’s biggest takeaways from his course was the leadership instruction for emergency situations. “My NOLS training prepared me to be very comfortable in challenging situations in a way that just training in the technical EMT skills would not have.” Even if he didn’t understand everything going on with a patient, he had enough knowledge to remain calm, think quickly, and not try to improvise beyond his scope of training. With almost a million residents, Port-au-Prince is decidedly not a wilderness environment, but the wilderness training still prepared him for a lot of the situations he faced. “It wasn’t so much the technical wilderness skills like improvising materials. It was the methodology and critical thinking we had learned for patient management while you wait for definitive care, which applies to resource-scarce environments like we faced in Haiti,” he said. Adam now works in hospital administration at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, with one of the busiest ERs in the world. His course and experience gave him deeper insight into what goes on in the professional care environment, as he works directly with doctors, nurses, and first responders. He keeps up his Wilderness First Responder certification to stay empowered to help in any emergency, whether in the woods or close to home in his urban wilderness.

Adam Stolz on duty in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Courtesy of Adam Stolz

Dan Kenah Dan is a Baffin Island 2006 grad who came to the NOLS Development office in 2016 from Jackson, Wyoming. He’s most comfortable on skis or in front of a piano.





ontinue your summer 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 you and trust NOLS to run the show. We have a variety of offer-

NOLS Alumni Reunions Thanks to everyone who attended a spring alumni reunion! The season wrapped up in May after successful events in Boston, Austin, Seattle, San Francisco, Portland, and Denver. Year after year, NOLS graduates inspire us with their generosity, enthusiasm, and adventurousness. It’s impossible to leave a reunion unmotivated by those who come together to tell stories, welcome newcomers to the NOLS family, and celebrate a shared love of the outdoors. And our fall reunion season is right around the corner! We look forward to connecting with you in cities like Chicago, New York City, Boulder, and more.

ings every year and are quickly adding more trips. If you don’t see what you want, contact us; we build custom trips as well. For more information or to sign up call 1-800-332-4280 or visit www.

1. Sea Kayaking in the Bahamas DATE | November 16-23, 2019 (8 days) COST | $1,995 (includes pre- and post-trip lodging in Georgetown) Paddle the Bahamas’ pristine waters in the Out Islands and Exuma Cays. You’ll experience white sand beaches, palm trees, and warm, sunny weather on this weeklong expedition. This trip focuses on paddling, snorkeling, and exploring the coastline. Reconnect with your NOLS roots and build skills in a relaxed and beautiful place. Moderate


Caribbean paddling is beautiful, but wind and surf can be challenging.

2. Backpacking New Zealand’s Heaphy Track DATE | February 10-15, 2020 (6 days) COST | $2,295 (includes pre- and post-trip lodging) Join NOLS on one of New Zealand’s great, classic walks, the Heaphy Track. This 50-mile hut-to-hut route winds its way along the coast’s stunning scenery. Alpine tussock, limestone caves and cliffs, and beech forests are all part of the terrain to soak in with your fellow NOLSies. Moderate


Rustic hut living means lighter packs, but the terrain is challenging.

Lynn Petzold




Michal Klajban

Katherine Collins



pend 16 days pursuing your climbing goals where the desert and the mountains meet. About two hours from NOLS Southwest in Tucson, Arizona, stand the Dragoon Mountains, home of Cochise Stronghold. Cochise provides the ideal classroom for all skill levels, whether you’re new to the sport or arriving with years of experience. You’ll start with climbing basics— belaying, tying knots, rope handling, communication, and rappelling—and camping basics, including base camp set-up and maintenance, Leave No Trace techniques, cooking, and stove use. As the course progresses, skills like multipitch climbing, gear placement, and vertical rescue will come into play. 2018 Southwest Rock Climbing grad Carrie Scheick recalls how everyone in the group was encouraged to pursue their own climbing goals, writing, “I liked that we all learned the same things, but then could practice the skills we personally wanted to improve, while all still enjoying the same crags together.” Elena Foster arrived at her 2019 Southwest Rock Climbing course as a self-proclaimed climbing rookie and was

immediately pulled in by the landscape of Cochise: “I have never been to a place as beautiful as Cochise Stronghold. It was the kind of place that made me feel like I could do anything.” Challenging the traditional notion of the desert as barren, the area is rich in biodiversity, a unique blend of desert, grassland, and woodland ecosystems. Rocky domes, tall spires, and bald summits rise up from the landscape, painted red at dusk by the long rays of the setting sun. When you’re not climbing, you can hike through the deep canyons, encounter desert wildlife, and learn about local history. The area is the ancestral home of Chief Cochise and the Chiricahua Apaches, and you may come across artifacts, pictographs, and other pieces of cultural importance. Nights at Cochise are spent base camping in the grasslands below. Base camping means setting up camp in one spot for the duration of a trip. This often allows for more “luxuries” than traditional backcountry camping. Extra clothing, books, camping gear, and stocks of fresh produce help make base camp a comfortable place to return to after a day out in the field.

As with any NOLS course, a strong emphasis is placed on leadership. Setting personal climbing goals and operating within a group will sharpen leadership skills like communication, risk management, and decision making. Not only did Elena grow as a climber, but she also grew as a leader, noting that “being a leader comes easily when there is proper preparation, planning, and positivity.” During her final course debrief, Carrie found the words to describe her time at Cochise: “I realized how my NOLS course has made me feel. I feel incredibly capable.”

Julia Neumann Julia is a Southeastern Alaska Sea Kayaking grad and a rising senior at Connecticut College. A lifetime member of the Otago University Tramping Club, she’s happiest in a boat.





eading over to the University of Colorado Boulder rec center for an intramural soccer game, Nicholas Kolesky had no way of knowing that he was about to save a fellow player’s life. It was a Thursday evening in early February, and Nick was looking forward to taking a break from studying to get out on the soccer field. He certainly wasn’t expecting to put his NOLS Wilderness EMT training to use. But when junior Josh Gonzales went into cardiac arrest mid-game, Nick suddenly found himself in the role of first responder. Describing the scene in an interview with ABC’s Denver Channel, Nick said that after collapsing on the turf, Josh turned blue and stopped moving—and breathing. “After a brief moment of rising

panic, I realized that I had all the training necessary and got to work,” Nick recalled. Assistant athletic trainer Samantha Yanker also leapt into action, arriving on the field just as Nick determined that Josh needed chest compressions. “Thankfully, Samantha brought an AED (automated external defibrillator) with her so we could provide the best possible care.” Together, their quick response saved Josh’s life. Nick said his NOLS course prepared him to “work within a team dynamic. Samantha and I had never met before, but we immediately established a clear line of communication that allowed us to simultaneously work to help Josh.” Waking up in the Boulder Community Hospital, Josh had no memory

of the incident on the field. He later said he felt incredibly lucky that two strangers stepped up in a situation where seconds mattered. Reflecting on the incident, Nick commented that “using my NOLS training to respond to an emergency was very rewarding, especially because Josh made a full recovery.” Born and raised in Alaska, Nick traces his love of the outdoors back to childhood hiking, camping, and rafting trips. His grandfather, David Kolesky, recalled that, “I had him climbing mountains when he was three or four years old—small mountains, but they were still mountains!” Now a rising senior studying Integrative Physiology at CU Boulder, Nick took a WEMT course at NOLS’ Wyss Campus in Lander, Wyoming following his sophomore year. He explained that, “I wanted to gain some form of medical training as I prepare to go to medical school. NOLS offered a fast-paced course that allowed me to learn from experts in a very concentrated manner.” And, when the time came to put that learning into action, Nick was prepared— to save a life. For more information about NOLS Wilderness Medicine courses, visit www.

Brooke Ortel Nick Kolesky, second from right in back row, poses with his NOLS coursemates at NOLS Wilderness Medicine Wyss Campus. Courtesy of Nicholas Kolesky


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.




ou must climb over the mountain in your head before you can get over the mountain in real life.” That’s a quote I learned on my NOLS course and have used every time I’ve faced a challenge since then. I came to NOLS through C5 New England, an organization committed to inspiring high-potential youth from risk-filled environments to pursue personal success. NOLS and C5 have been partnering for five years to provide outdoor expeditions to hundreds of young leaders. I’m one of them. NOLS courses are the third-year component of an intensive five-year program that focuses on five characteristics: character-driven, community-focused, challenge-ready, college-bound, and commitment to a better future. My NOLS experience—a C5 Bridges Leadership Expedition in the Wind River Mountains—was like no other experience I’ve ever had. Not only did it make me aware of my physical strength, but it also taught me about my mental strength and my leadership style. Before my NOLS course, I knew this trek was going to be physically challenging, but I had no idea the positive effect it would have on my mind. NOLS pushed me to be the best I could possibly be, even when I felt like giving up. It taught me that if I face a challenge with a negative attitude, it will be more difficult than it has to be. I learned to tell myself “I can do this” and, though it may be hard now, it’ll all be worth it in the end. My relationships are stronger since my course, too. Experiencing seven days in the wilderness with people my own age, and who probably were thinking the same things as me, created so much space to make deep connections. We laughed together, we cried together, we sang together, and we told stories together.

Maliyah Hunter takes in the view in the Wind River Mountains. Kermelle Billy

There are no other connections that are closer to my heart than the ones I made with my peers during my NOLS course. Without NOLS, I also don’t think I would have discovered my leadership style and how important it can be. During a leadership class, I learned I’m a “Care Bear,” a leader in the group who’s a bit quieter than others but is very important behind the scenes. Not only do they take care of their own needs but they make sure everyone else is okay as well. When I discovered that trait, it all made so much sense. I noticed that I was expressing those traits on my journey through the Wind River Mountains and back at home. Now, whenever I lead a group, I make sure I’m using my specific skills to my advan-

tage and using them effectively. NOLS has shaped my life. I look at the world in a new light and I don’t back down, even when the challenges I face may seem impossible. I climb the mountain in my head first, knowing I can then do it in real life.

Maliyah Hunter Maliyah, a fan of cheesy breakfast bagels, is entering 11th grade with plans to be a pre-med major in college. She intends to be a pediatrician.



MEET NOLS’ PROGRAM DIRECTORS By Anne McGowan Development Communications Coordinator




hen program directors from around the world gathered at NOLS headquarters earlier this year, it seemed the perfect opportunity to snap a photo and provide some background about these committed professionals. Christian Martin became NOLS New Zealand program director in 2018, after serving as assistant director for several years. He’s an experienced NOLS field and wilderness medicine instructor, and has leadership experience in environmental planning in New Zealand, Australia, and the United States. Born in Australia and a 2009 New Zealand Instructor Course graduate, Christian loves New Zealand’s dynamic weather, great community, and ginger-nut biscuits. He also likes brewing kombucha in his office. NOLS Patagonia Program Director Raúl Castro Flores has spent 333 weeks instructing in the field. Born in Chile, Raúl was a semester student in 1994, participated in the Instructor in Training program, and took an instructor course in 1996. He co-managed the NOLS Patagonia Magallanes location, supervised programs at the Patagonia and Alaska locations, and served as assistant director. Raúl appreciates the location’s beautiful classroom and local culture. Craig Lenske has worked mountaineering, backpacking, rock climbing, and sea kayaking courses for NOLS in Canada, Mexico, Chile, New Zealand, India, Alaska, and the Pacific Northwest. Appropriately, he oversees NOLS programs in the Pacific Northwest, India, Yukon, and Scandinavia. A graduate of the first NOLS Alaska Instructor Course, Craig has been a program director since 2015. He’s a new Canadian who plays hockey and loves Vancouver for its urban culture and access to year-round outdoor activities. NOLS Mexico Program Director Ximena Carrión Fregoso, born in Baja California Sur, México, is the first native Californiana to lead the Mexico program. She’s a fan of the Sea of Cortez, the local folks who’ve worked for NOLS EIGHT PROGRAM Mexico for decades, and creating unforgettable experiences for stuDIRECTORS OVERSEE dents. Ximena came to NOLS on a Educators sea kayaking 16 NOLS LOCATIONS Mexican course, completed her instructor AROUND THE WORLD course in 2010 and her WEMT in 2016. She’s served as intern, rations manager, finance and office manager, Spanish programs coordinator, and assistant director. Massachusetts native Chris Brauneis was named NOLS Alaska program director in 2016. After his first course—Fall Semester in the Rockies—Chris fitted boots in the Rocky Mountain issue room, then worked as a senior field instructor, Rocky Mountain program manager, Wilderness Medicine instructor, and Alumni Trips coordinator. He lauds his “passionate in-town staff, dedicated faculty (many of whom return year after year), and the vastness and wildness of Alaska.” Chris is determined to bike his age in miles—plus one for good luck—on all future birthdays. After NOLS Southwest Program Director Lindsay Nohl completed a Fall Semester in the Rockies, she knew she had to work for NOLS. A month later, she was the Alumni department’s intern. While pinballing around multiple jobs at NOLS, she worked toward the vision of directing the NOLS Southwest location—a goal she reached









NOLS’ 16 locations are spread across the globe. Illustration by Kacie DeKleine

in 2010. Lindsay loves sharing the Sonoran Desert—“that amazing ecosystem”—with students. Still, the former semi-pro and professional soccer player admits soccer is her first love. Jen Sall, NOLS Rocky Mountain program director, also heads up programs at NOLS Northeast, East Africa, Three Peaks Ranch, and the Utah River Base. She took her first course, a semester in East Africa, in 1999, and her instructor course in 2002. Almost all her employment since then—instructor, program supervisor, ranch manager—has been with the school. “Every time I left to work somewhere else, I was reminded of how good I had it at NOLS,” she said. Abby Warner, NOLS Teton Valley program director, said her Alaska Wilderness course changed her life. Growing up in Colorado, it never occurred to her you could go camping—for a month!—where there were no trees. A field instructor since 1989, Abby became a program supervisor and assistant director for NOLS Yukon, worked for NOLS’ Leave No Trace department, and in the Alumni office. Directing NOLS Teton Valley was her aspiration ever since her first job in the valley: “chopping and stacking wood and sweeping—a lot.”

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.

Left to Right: Christian Martin, Raúl Castro Flores, Craig Lenske, Ximena Carrión Fregoso, Chris Brauneis, Lindsay Nohl, Jen Sall, and Abby Warner. Kirk Rasmussen



THINGS I LEARNED ON AN EXPEDITION WITH MY SPOUSE By Ashley Drake NOLS Custom Education Operations Supervisor & Instructor




ast fall, my husband Kyle and I, both NOLS instructors, set out on an expedition, just the two of us. We packed our 13-foot oar rig to raft 84 miles of the Green River in Utah and 34 miles of the Rogue River in Oregon. We’d never been on either river and were excited to experience the wide, desert canyon of the Green, and the narrow, rocky beauty of the Rogue. Here’s what I learned along the way:

1. Eat Food First At the end of a long day on the river, you’re tired, hungry, and wet, so make appetizers, share snacks, and consume calories. You earned it. A well-fed partner is better than a hangry partner any day.

2. Don’t Hold Grudges, Make Stories

also gave us an opportunity to work together as navigators, rather than only one person accessing the map at a time.

4. Set Goals Being in a relationship with an outdoor educator can be amazing. I especially appreciate that we set aside time to discuss goals at the start. For instance, Kyle wanted to experience new river corridors and challenge BECAUSE WE HAD his river reading skills GOALS, IT WASN’T on the fly. I wanted time on the oars to build tech- JUST A VACATION nical skills, and a larger role in expedition plan- TOGETHER; IT ning. Kyle trusted me to WAS A MISSION plan meals and organize gear, and encouraged WITH CLEAR me to take the oars in challenging whitewater. MEASURES OF I trusted Kyle’s techSUCCESS. nical skills when we heard rapids ahead, but didn’t have a river guide offering detailed information. Because we had goals, it wasn’t just a vacation together; it was a mission with clear measures of success.

True story: my husband left me on an island in the middle of a rapid. He. Left. Me. Through a series of events that may or may not have been my fault, our raft became pinned against boulders in the middle of a rapid. Settling me on the boulders, Kyle pushed the raft off the rock, jumping on board just as it slid free and rocketed downstream. Leaving me behind. Securing the raft, he walked back along the shore, and, with water roaring between us, signaled me to swim the rapid and get picked up by the boat below. I attempted to use proper swimming technique to float with my feet and face above water. Instead, I picked up speed and got a face full of water, drenching my sunhat so it flopped over my face. I was blind, choking on water, and gasping when Kyle leaned over the side of the boat, and, in a hero move worthy of a Disney movie, heaved me out of the water and into the raft. There was crying. There was laughing. When the adrenaline simmered down, I was soaked, cold, and a little irritated at being left. I felt better, though, as Kyle helped me bundle up in dry 5. Share Your Authentic Self clothes, made hot cocoa, and cooked a delicious dinner. I’m glad we’re Embrace being your authentic self and seeing your both fine. And we now have a great story. partner as their authentic self, too. When you share multiple days in the wilderness together, all the varnish 3. Mistakes Make Memories gets stripped away. The things I love most about my On the first half of our expedition, we forgot our map. “We” left it on husband are the things that show up when we’re out in the hood of our truck and were miles downriver when we realized it. nature, exploring together. Just the two of us. A multi-day river expedition without a map is...not ideal. It’s essential for risk management and making sure we covered enough distance each day to finish on time. So, we got creative, using our GPS to calculate our speed so we could estimate our distance. With that measurement, we determined to keep the same pace for a certain number of hours to make our mileage for the day. Remarkably, it worked! Ashley Drake Then we saw a large camp and BOATS. There were people! Ashley is a NOLS field and wilderness medicine instructor, and With maps! Our new friends shared their map and we took photos the NOLS Custom Education Operations Supervisor. She and of it with my phone before camping for the night. The next mornher husband recently started their biggest adventure with the ing, my phone was dying, so we created a new “map.” Kyle examarrival of Baby Drake. ined the photos on the phone, verbally describing the river as I wrote notes. The handwritten notes became our map. Worked like a charm. It

Left: Ashley and Kyle pause for a selfie. Ashley Drake







rriving last fall at NOLS Southwest in Tucson, Arizona, our student group found the entire staff of the campus lined up to greet us. Through an energetic and efficient process of introductions, gear issue, provisioning, and briefing, we enjoyed a calm and welcoming presence from everyone we met. It set the tone for a great week together, backpacking in the Gila National Forest. I’m a university professor in management and have been teaching for about 12 years. I came to NOLS after many years of avidly reading the course catalog, dreaming of exotic trips and adventure. In my sabbatical year, I got my chance. In many ways, the Southwest Backpacking course exceeded my expectations: it was challenging, fun, and rewarding in ways that readers of The Leader know well. But it also had some unexpected consequences: I believe my NOLS experience will fundamentally change how I teach in the future. The warm welcome we experienced on our first day, for example, made a lasting impression on me. We were received with patient, gently inquisitive dialogue about everything from the inbound trip to the eternal question of, “do I really need to take this extra pair of pants?” The lesson for me? The value of genuine hospitality at the outset of the learning journey. Another feature I came to appreciate was the fundamental teaching strategy of providing small amounts of information at exactly the right time. While learning to light the stove, I was given simple instructions, which were just enough to get me started safely. I also experienced various ways of getting it wrong, under the watchful and mostly silent gaze of a nearby instructor. This stood in contrast to my own teaching, where the I BELIEVE MY NOLS effect of expertise had too often to overwhelm my students EXPERIENCE WILL been with too much information. FUNDAMENTALLY Being on the course with others as young as the students I teach CHANGE HOW I TEACH was a great source of insight for too. I saw how they engaged IN THE FUTURE. me, with the learning envronment. I witnessed the things that troubled them, as well as their particular strengths. These included tremendous reserves of tolerance and patience for others, and a willingness to challenge authority when things didn’t make sense to them. In the NOLS environment, I discovered, these things help form the basis of learning, and reflect deep engagement. It didn’t provoke defensiveness on the part of our instructors, allowing them to remain present and respond thoughtfully to the full range of views. When I return to teaching post-sabbatical, I’ll extend my NOLS experience to my teaching in these ways: 1. Making students feel welcome, right from the beginning; 2. Thinking about how much information I provide, and when I provide it, to help my students build skills without making them feel overwhelmed; and

Professor James O’Brien’s NOLS course will inform future classroom interactions. Courtesy of James O’Brien

3. Being more aware of differences between me and my students, appreciating their experience of learning, and responding to them with openness. For my colleagues, I strongly encourage you to consider joining a NOLS course. If you’re interested in a rich experience of teaching and learning with the potential to transform your practice, you won’t be disappointed.

James O’Brien James lives by the ocean in beautiful Halifax, Nova Scotia. He loves to run, read, and walk his golden retriever, Miley.

Left: James O’Brien, second from left, rests with coursemates. Courtesy of James O’Brien






ete Ripmaster is an ultrarunner, motivational speaker, parent, and graduate of a 1997 NOLS Alaska Mountaineering course. In 2018, he won the Iditarod Trail Invitational, a 1,000-mile footrace from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska. In this interview, he shares how building the self-reliance and competence necessary to compete in this arduous race began with his NOLS expedition. What are your Alaska-sized goals? Becoming a better communicator? Committing to walking 15 minutes every day? Adding rock climbing to your skill set? Whatever they may be, here’s to having adventures, reaching goals, and exploring our world and ourselves. Enjoy our Q & A with Pete.

What were you feeling and thinking when you arrived in Alaska for the start of your NOLS course? I remember being blown away by the scale, just the sheer wildness of the area. I’d had a pretty suburban, affluent upbringing, and Alaska was absolutely what my heart was longing for. Getting there was a perfect storm of influences and opportunities to make my own path. I was around 19 years old, and I was used to having things my way. I was big and tough and aggressive and my ego was strong, even though I had no idea what I was getting into. Looking back, I would’ve been rolling my eyes at myself if I’d been an instructor. And despite my ego at the time, I saw the expedition as a way to find out Pete’s selfie documents his comfort alone in the Alaska wilderness—and who I was—and the instructors humbled me pretty well. They weren’t that the tape on his face successfully guards against frostbite. Pete Ripmaster having any of that entitled attitude.

What experiences from the course have stuck with you?

preparing and educating yourself on what could happen It was foundational for a lifetime. I wouldn’t be able to put myself are so important. It taught me how to be authentic about through the things I have in my adult life without the teachings of NOLS. my capabilities, and willing to go into some places where I I watched the instructors bring our group through the mountains, as realized no one’s coming right behind me. When you know well as give us space to learn and not be told what to do. Once I under- that the stakes are high, the planning and analytical side stood that you could go to wild places and pick your way through them are imperative. safely, that resonated with When were you surprised on your course? THE EXCITEMENT AND me and opened new doors. One of the highlights of At the end of the course, it came time for grades, and LOVE AND PASSION the NOLS expedition was my cooking grade was either a C or D. I came up to my my group’s attempt to climb instructors and asked, “What the hell? I cooked and did DIDN’T COME FROM Mount Marcus Baker in the everything!” And my instructor told me, “Pete, making the STANDING ON TOP OF Chugach Range. I was feel- most basic meal in the world is not the same as cooking.” I ing athletic and had a goal had tried to do it the easiest possible way, and my instrucTHE MOUNTAIN AS of finishing the peak, but we tors called me out on it! I learned so much from that. Now, stopped short of the summit I’m always the one pulling the extra weight, almost to MUCH AS THE PROCESS because of weather. As a make up for that time, which I have to say is kind of embarTO GET THERE team, we could have made rassing, and also part of learning. the argument to continue or retreat either way, but the instructors decided to turn around. It was, When did you next go to Alaska? in some regards, a failure. More than that, it was one of these moments After my course, I was a changed person, and a lot of that where you realize the excitement and love and passion didn’t come from came from feeling so small in Alaska. That’s why I’ve standing on top of the mountain as much as the process to get there, be been going back. There’s nothing like that feeling of safe, and thrive in the elements. being there, and you’re just a speck. Sitting next to a river I saw this later with NOLS Wilderness Medicine courses, too. To me, and quieting yourself, you’re just a speck in the ecosystem,

Left: Training in his home backyard of North Carolina. Derek DiLuzio Photography


EXPOSE this masterpiece of a race, where I’d blend those skills for 1,000 miles in the winter with a sled. But now I look back and I see it was all part of it together, from NOLS and probably before, but NOLS was the conduit, the peephole. Marathon running eventually led me into bigger, longer races. I found my niche in races that were remote, where there weren’t people cheering me on. I was accustomed to not sleeping much and asking a lot from my body—and you need that for a race like the Iditarod. I knew what I had to give and had been growing my skill set for close to 20 years. Adventure racing became part of my quest for knowledge and efficiency in the outdoors.

People run for all kinds of reasons. Why do you run? Winning the Iditarod championship is cool, but you can take all that away and I would still love it. I’ve dealt with depression most of my life, and I’ve found running to be the most basic, healthy antidepressant for me. It represents freedom to me. The woods are there and I can breathe. My wife and kids would tell you that if I didn’t have those opportunities, I wouldn’t be happy, and I’m so thankful for that. A photo snapped of Pete a few days into the Iditarod Trail Invitational. He adds: “I wasn’t completely sure it was real until I saw this print.” Courtesy of Pete Ripmaster

and I love that feeling. Around 2002, I moved to Alaska for a couple years and was mushing in the winter and for the Iditarod champs. After I lost my mom to cancer, Alaska represented everything to me—truth and getting back to who I was as a person. Alaska can make me feel connected.

How did these experiences lead into ultrarunning? There were a few factors. Before losing my mom, I promised her I’d do something to fundraise for cancer research. One day while I was driving in the car with my wife, I told her, “Drop me off, I’m going to run my first marathon today.” I’d never had a training run, and I went 26.2 miles that day. Everything came together with running after that. I was able to run marathons to help fundraise for cancer research. Running is a way for me to feel athletic and engage the mind, the journey inward. For me, it was almost therapeutic, and very natural.

What do you say when people ask you for advice on what equipment to bring? Gear needs to serve a purpose, and it’s easy to overanalyze. I usually remind folks that you don’t need to bring everything for every “what if.” Something may happen that’s beyond your realm of experience, but to me that’s adventure, and for everyone that’s different. That’s part of having the self-reliance and judgment to decide what outdoor experience you’re able to responsibly take on. I think back to being at the Farm (the NOLS Alaska location) before my NOLS course—we weighed our food and decided what to take or leave behind. It was a crash course in how to embrace wilderness and enjoy it. Knowing you have the means to take care of yourself in the outdoors—it doesn’t get any better.

How do you connect your outdoor adventures with your wife and two girls?

Because I got really burned out on athletics when I was younger, my wife, who’s also a big runner, and I are really trying to let our girls pick their own paths. They like the outdoors, but they’re like most kids—they aren’t like “Yay!” on a hike, but when we finish they’re talking about the things they saw, and how great it was, and I just chuckle to myself. As for Alaska, it’s a sacred place that I haven’t been able to share with my family yet. I can’t wait to bring my family up there, but I want the Tell us more about your experience with the Idi- kids to be a little older and more capable for some of the adventure tarod. This is a 1,000-mile race, run in the winter and stuff I’d like to do with them. The way I’d like us to experience it means the on foot, and you ran it four times before finishing trip will be a little tough; I won’t sugar coat it.

first on your fifth race.

How do you manage to connect your adventure goals, which for

When I look back on all these skills I’d spent years most people are unattainable, with listeners’ day-to-day lives working on, I had no idea I was going to work toward when you’re speaking at events?


EXPOSE During the question-and-answer section of one of my first talks, someone asked how I make something big like a marathon manageable. I said, “Let’s take a 26.2-mile race—I’m a numbers person. I think of it as nine 5-kilometer races, not one 26.2-mile race. At the starting line I’m not thinking about the finish line, I’m thinking about the first three miles of the race. Nothing else. And I’ll count them on my hand as I go through the race. Next thing I know, I’ve done five 5-kilometer sections, and only have four left. Can I do that? Hell, yeah I can do that!” The businessperson next to me said, “Right now, there is no difference in what I’d want the people who work for me to do than what he just said.”

What’s coming next for you? I’m an outdoorsman more than an ultrarunner, so it’s never only been about races for me. I’d like to start bikepacking, even though I’ve never been a biker—it’s a self-powered mode of travel that doesn’t beat you up as much as running. I’m excited to learn something new and take a break from the hardcore ultrarunning scene. There’s also something deep that intrigues me about the South Pole. I’ve been all over the U.S., but never put together an overseas trip. We’ll see what the future holds!

Which parts of NOLS’ mission have you felt resonate most with you over time? I really resonate with the LNT ethics of NOLS; pack it in, pack it out. That has been foundational for me. It just feels respectful, to think of the next person coming down the road. There are ethics involved in outdoor wilderness—when no one’s looking, what are you doing? Are you taking care of your stuff ? We need people like that, who respect the outdoors to be shared, to nerd out about Leave No Trace—you don’t have to be Joe Cool out there.

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. Follow her on Instagram @mgherber

Pete practices on grass. Courtesy of Pete Ripmaster




The two-day course answers what it takes to venture responsibly into the outdoors. Brian Hensien


lou’re a few hours into a weekend mountain-bike ride and 10 miles from the trailhead. The terrain is challenging. You stop for a break and realize you haven’t seen one of your two riding partners for a while. It starts to rain, and you hear thunder in the distance. It’s time to turn back. You pull out your phone to text your friends, and see you don’t have service. You’re not sure where you last had reception. What do you do? Did you and your friends talk about what you would do if you got separated? For decades, NOLS students have learned how to make decisions, identify


hazards, and make contingency plans in the wilderness. But now, outdoor enthusiasts can access that curriculum in a classroom setting for the first time. 2019 is the pilot year for a new program, expanding NOLS Risk Services’ classroom risk management offerings as well as NOLS’ existing partnership with REI Co-op, the national specialty outdoor retailer and the country’s largest consumer co-operative. Wilderness Safety Training with NOLS is a two-day training for trip leaders and outdoor enthusiasts of all experience levels, grounded in NOLS field risk-management curriculum and taught by NOLS field instructors at REI stores. The first two courses ran in April 2019, in Seattle, Washington and Berkeley, California. Part of backcountry preparedness is knowing how to prevent, recognize, and treat injuries and illnesses when advanced medical care isn’t easily accessible. NOLS and REI have teamed up for nine years to offer wilderness medicine courses all over the U.S, helping people learn the skills needed to step forward in an emergency. What started as 16 courses in 2010 has grown to more than 343 in 2019. REI’s program manager for program development, Daniel Grillo, played a critical role in expanding that partnership to include Risk Services this year. “NOLS’ mission and vision align well with REI’s,” Grillo shared. “After years of successful partnership with NOLS Wilderness Medicine, we’re excited to be working with another team at NOLS to equip people with knowledge and skills for playing outside.” Managing risk in the outdoors requires more than first-aid skills. As most NOLS grads already know, a lot

of work goes into planning and executing a great outdoor adventure; as you go further afield, you need to rely on more than luck to get back home. This new course answers the question of what it takes to venture responsibly into the outdoors, from trip planning and identifying life-threatening hazards to outdoor leadership and decision making, and from emergency response to how to make the most of post-trip learning opportunities. And just like NOLS Wilderness Medicine offerings, it’s especially relevant for those who explore beyond the reach of traditional emergency services, like places with unreliable cell service, poorly maintained roads, or none at all. Both NOLS and REI have ambitious goals for the new program in the coming year, with 16 courses on the books for fall 2019, and even more planned for 2020. We’re excited about the potential for this new program to increase access to NOLS education and to the outdoors more broadly. It’s a great opportunity to introduce people to NOLS who may never have considered an expedition— or to continue your NOLS education. For more information about Wilderness Safety Training with NOLS, contact 307-335-2222 or email risk_services@

Katie Baum Mettenbrink Katie came to NOLS as a field instructor in 2003. She currently leads NOLS Risk Services, and chairs the annual Wilderness Risk Management Conference (WRMC).


RESEARCH | SENSE OF PLACE DEVELOPMENT ON NOLS EXPEDITIONS By Anneka Williams NOLS Grad and Former Research and Curriculum Intern


ach year, thousands of students head into the wilderness across the U.S. and around the world on NOLS expeditions. A goal on all expeditions, regardless of length or discipline, is to foster an environmental ethic in each student. Sense of place holds an important role in this process and within the NOLS environmental studies curriculum. In 2016, Garrett Hutson, associate professor at Brock University, Liz Peredun, NOLS instructor, and Shannon Rochelle, research manager and instructor at NOLS, conducted a study to investigate sense of place in the NOLS education model. In the context of this study, sense of place was conceptualized as “the personal relationship students develop with areas travelled while participating on a NOLS course.” Data came from more than 500 post-course NOLS Rocky Mountain student responses to the open-ended question: “Did NOLS help you develop a personal relationship to the places you visited? If so, how?”

Learning Mechanisms behind Positive Sense of Place Development Two-thirds of students responded that NOLS helped them develop a personal relationship to the places they visited, and provided details. These responses were coded and categorized into 14 groups, illustrating the diversity of ways people positively relate to natural environments at NOLS. Some of the top learning mechanisms identified included students having time to learn independently from and interact with the environments in which they travelled, environmental studies classes, facilitated reflection, and the opportunity to learn and practice Leave No Trace principles.

Sense of place helps foster an environmental ethic. Vivian Merrill

Barriers to Development Researchers also analyzed what factors served as barriers. Many people who answered no to the question “Did NOLS help you develop a personal relationship to the places you visited?” commented they felt more connected to the people they were with than the places they explored. Others resisted the idea of developing a personal relationship with the land, reporting sense of place was too intangible to describe. After considering all barriers, researchers proposed NOLS could expand the ways it communicates the importance of sense of place. Broadening discussions to talk about how students and instructors feel, think, and act toward their environments, and emphasizing cultural and natural history education, could develop sense of place without explicitly mentioning it.

Conclusion and Recommendations This study showed NOLS has a positive impact on sense of place, a hard-to-quantify tenet of the environmental studies curriculum. By helping articulate the impact of sense of place development at

NOLS, findings reinforce the importance of nurturing person-place relationships in ways relevant to students. It also found sense of place is intertwined with other components of NOLS curriculum, such as Leave No Trace principles. Instructors could use this knowledge to adjust how they teach environmental studies, perhaps reminding students that practicing environmental ethics is rooted in the ecological needs of the places NOLS courses go. Helping students build awareness about how to respond to these ecological needs could also build awareness about their evolving relationship with the natural world.

Anneka Williams Anneka grew up in Vermont’s Mad River Valley where she is an avid runner, skier, writer, reader, and endurance activity lover who enjoys finding new challenges.





lumni trips are the perfect way to connect friends and family to the wilderness and to NOLS. Through two alumni trips with five “non-wilderness” friends, I’ve learned some lessons that can help you select, prepare, and travel with your friends to ensure their (and your) best NOLS Alumni adventure.

Part 1 | Before you decide to go: • Match the trip with friends: The Alumni catalog does a good job of offering details and an intensity rating. Try to get a sense of your friends’ expectations and how they connect with the trip. Give the Alumni office a call and ask their opinion.

different canoe trips for three friends as “guys” trips, allowing me to get them acquainted with some transferable skills and knowledge.

Part 2 | Before the trip: • Conduct a trip meeting before they buy gear: Walk through the course description and gear list with them. Talk through the rationale of what’s on the list and why it’s on the list. • Walk through their gear with them: Once they have their gear, walk through it with them (especially critical things like footwear). • Recognize you will feel responsible for their enjoyment and their safety: There are places where being a friend can be helpful for their comfort and enjoyment; but remember, there are course leaders on the trip—let them do their job.

• Introduce Expedition Behavior (EB): Any NOLS trip/expedition will have moments where monitoring oneself and the group’s needs become part of the fun. Help new folks understand that it’s part of going on the trip and critical to its success.

Part 3 | During the trip:

• Run a “shakedown” trip if you can: Baby-step them into the wilderness if they’re truly “newbies.” I’ve organized

• Check in every day: How are they doing? Energy, physiology, psychology, etc. Being “your friend on the trip”

can actually limit their willingness to speak up when they have a blister or a muscle pull. • EB Redux: We know well-intentioned and good-hearted human beings can show up otherwise when they are wiped physically and emotionally. You can offer a question like, “How’s your hydration?” or a statement like, “Grab a snack.” It’s an invitation for them to do a quick self-inventory and figure out how to get what they need. • Remember to have your own trip, too: Remember that you are having your own adventure! I found my own rhythm, set my own goals, and took optional day trips separate from my friends. One of my favorite parts of a backcountry Alumni trip is the return. There’s a special joy in coming back and being able to relive moments with those who were there with you. It changes frontcountry life for you and your friends, deepens friendships, and can open up the possibility of taking a different friend or exploring a new backcountry spot the next time. My alumni trips have given me a special opportunity to bring the people I love to the places I love. I encourage you to do the same.

Kyle Courtaway

Bringing together the people and places you love is a benefit of Alumni trips. Rich Brame


Kyle is a graduate of the Yukon Outdoor Educator Backpacking and River course and Pacific Northwest Mountaineering course as well as four Alumni trips.


HOW TO | MAKE COFFEE WHILE CAMPING By Molly Herber Senior Writer


he morning ritual of making a hot beverage is precious to many an outdoorsperson. Though you might think options are limited for making cof-

fee while you’re camping, you really have all kinds of choices. Here are six ways you can make coffee while camping, from the simplest to the fanciest.

See this story and more (on topics from camping to leadership, first aid to education) on the NOLS Blog,

1 | Cowboy Coffee

2 | Instant Coffee

3 | Coffee Sock

Pros: Simplicity; no fancy equipment needed

Pros: No grounds at the end; efficiency; no fancy equipment needed; easy cleanup

Pros: No grounds; when you aren’t camping, they’re more environmentally friendly than paper coffee filters

Cons: May drink coffee grounds along with the coffee

How to Make It

1. Boil water (suggested 6 cups water for 4-6 Tbsp. of coffee) 2. Stir in coffee grounds, let sit (this is key so the grounds sink to the bottom of the pot) 3. Pour into your drinking container and sip

Cons: Not quite as delicious as other coffee types

How to Make It

1. Choose your coffee 2. Put the crystals in your drinking container 3. Pour in boiling water 4. Let sit for a few seconds, then drink

Cons: Need to buy a one-purpose item; not easy to clean

How to Make It

1. Put grounds in the sock (we suggest using drip grind grounds) 2. Boil water 3. Pour hot water over sock into your vessel and drink

4 | French Press

5 | AeroPress

6 | Bialetti

Pros: Delicious coffee; makes multiple cups of coffee at a time

Pros: Delicious coffee; more portable and less likely to crack than a French press; makes one serving at a time

Pros: Delicious coffee, good for car camping

Cons: A more bulky item to pack; slightly longer brew time

How to Make It

1. Put the grounds into the French press (we advise slightly coarser grounds, 1 Tbsp. per cup) 2. Add boiling water 3. Wait about 4 minutes 4. Plunge the French press and drink

Cons: More bulky item to use; has several different pieces; makes one serving at a time

How to Make It

1. Put the grounds into the press (1 scoop per serving) 2. Put press over your drinking container 3. Pour in boiling water 4. Plunge, drink

Cons: Heavy piece of equipment

How to Make It

1. Pour in grounds (espresso grind recommended) 2. Add water 3. Place on camp stove and heat until the coffee boils, drink

Illustration by Elizabeth Simons





know what you’re thinking: “Why would I want such a lightweight jacket that isn’t waterproof or insulated?” I was skeptical too, until a friend let me borrow his Patagonia Houdini jacket for a mid-January run in Wyoming. After a few minutes, I sank into the runner’s groove, virtually forgetting the jacket was there. Unlike other shells I’ve worn while running, I didn’t feel the least bit clammy while wearing it, and was unfazed by the bitter breeze coming down from the Wind River Range. After a great first impression, I decided to put the jacket through its paces. From a brisk spring hike in Grand Teton National Park, to fly fishing a remote mountain stream on a sunny day, the Houdini kept me consistently comfortable. When I had to take the jacket off, I simply stuffed it into its chest zipper and placed it in my pocket. Weighing in at 3.7 ounces and compressing to the size of a fist, it’s the perfect minimalist piece. My only real gripe with this jacket is the sizing. Standing at 5’9” and 170 pounds, I always wear a medium. How-

ever, the medium is far too tight around my chest, while the large feels too baggy. In the end, I opted for a large so I could wear insulating layers underneath during the colder months. In sum, the Houdini is ideal for variable climates where temperature, wind, and sun exposure may shift frequently. It’s surprisingly durable, resists tears while bushwacking, and keeps pesky mosquitoes at bay. With a water-resistant coating, the Houdini would make a great shell for alpine climbing in the summer or Nordic skiing in the winter. With its minimal weight and size, it will be with me on hikes year-round.

Rob Motley Rob, NOLS Public Relations and Marketing intern, is a Wilderness First Responder and Wind River Wilderness graduate. He enjoys hiking, fly fishing, and ice climbing.

Rob Motley tests the Houdini jacket. Courtesy of Rob Motley

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 2019 edition's "Who is This?" is NOLS Baja Semester grad and former Saturday Night Live star Kristen Wiig. Not only can Kristen paddle a sea kayak, sail, and hike Mexico's arid backcountry, she's an Oscar-nominated screenwriter, producer, actress, and has been on Time Magazine's Most Influential People list.




The End of the Course By Kat Drennan NOLS Grad The closer to the end we come The farther back I want to run. Back to the time before, Back to when we could still close the door. I don’t regret going on... part of the continuous march to a brighter dawn. But now the day’s coming to an end. Memories soon to be scattered by the wind. I wish I could forever stay; Wish this memory would never turn grey. But onward must we all travel Till our roads turn back to gravel. Away from the land separate from the rest to the city where you have to be the best.

Hiking Haiku By Nick Zachary NOLS Grad I appreciate The rain falling constantly Soothes my mind and soul Nobody knows how It feels to be in my shoes or my dirty socks I glance at the map And walk for kilometers Wander ‘til sun down Water is life here

Lindsay Nohl

We all get thirsty


Nicholas Valentine

No matter what you may say


NUTRITION | CINNAMON ROLLS Adapted from the NOLS Cookery

Quick Cinnamon Rolls (Makes 12 rolls) • 3 cups baking mix * • • • • • • •

Claudia Pearson first came to NOLS as a student on a Wind River Wilderness course, in the summer of 1974. She was 19. She returned four years later (thanks in part to a friendship with former instructor Doug Bacon) having landed an internship in The Gulch, NOLS Rocky Mountain’s rations department. In time, Claudia was named the rations manager. In honor of her many years as NOLS’ food guru, we’ve asked Claudia to name her favorite recipe. There were numerous contenders (like pizza and gado-gado spaghetti— everyone’s best-loved!), but cinnamon rolls edged out the others to take the top spot. Claudia makes the yeast-dough version (available in the NOLS Cookery) at home, but is happy to use this quicker, easier recipe, too.

1 to 1 ½ cups water 3 Tbs. butter ½ cup brown sugar ¾ Tbs. cinnamon ¼ cup raisins (optional) ¼ cup nuts Extra flour for rolling

* Baking Mix

• 4 cups flour • 2-1/2 Tbs. baking powder • 1/4 cup powdered milk • 2 tsp. salt Mix all ingredients. Store in a plastic bag until needed.

Recipe Mix baking mix and water. Roll out to a 1/2-inch thick rectangle on floured surface, adding more flour to make dough less sticky if necessary. Mix butter, sugar, and cinnamon until creamy, and spread it on the dough. Sprinkle with raisins and nuts and roll up, jelly-roll style, pinching dough so sugar doesn’t fall out. Slice roll into 1”-slices and place in pan. Cover and bake for 15-25 minutes on a twiggy fire, or bake in a 375-degree oven, uncovered.

Cinnamon rolls are Claudia's favorite. Nicholas Byrne

Wilderness Quiz ANSWER | Australia, United States, Brazil, Russia, Canada Source:

Wilderness Medicine Quiz ANSWER | b) Pain that has persisted for more than 12 hours.



Andy Burdin

for NOLS Wilderness Medicine

NOLS WILDERNESS MEDICINE HAS AN EXTRAORDINARY OPPORTUNITY We need your help to win a $750,000 matching grant before Dec. 31, 2019! If we’re successful in meeting this dollar-for dollar match, we can expand and improve the NOLS Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus and nearly double our Wilderness EMT program. The Wyss Campus is our primary location for Wilderness EMT training. It is the only facility in the world built from the ground up specifically for wilderness medicine instruction. Students live, study, and practice skills in one integrated location that serves all their needs—lodging, food service, study space, classrooms, and 244 acres of Wyoming landscape for authentic medical scenarios. And it’s LEED Platinum certified. We have served over 3,000 students at the Wyss Campus since it was built in 2011, with overwhelmingly positive outcomes! Now, we must expand to serve everyone who seeks these life-saving skills. The expansion will double student housing to reach full capacity, create instructor housing on the campus, and build a student center to enhance campus life. We planned for this growth in the initial construction. Now it’s time to finish the job. Please email or call Dan Kenah to discuss your participation further: 1.307.335.2286 |

WE NEED YOU Will you help us train more EMTs with a gift to support this project? Gifts of all sizes will be matched dollar-for-dollar. But in order to secure the match, we must first raise our half—$750,000 in gifts and pledges.

WAYS TO GIVE • Secure online gift using PayPal, credit card, or bank withdrawal at • Credit card gift by phone at 1.800.332.4280 • Check made payable and mailed to: NOLS Fund 284 Lincoln St Lander, WY 82520

NAMING OPPORTUNITIES Lead gift opportunities are available to secure this match, and can be pledged over five years.




BJ Klophaus


THE NOLS CATALOG IS BACK! Start dreaming about your next adventure today. Request a catalog at 284 LINCOLN ST. LANDER, WY 82520 | 800-710-6657 | 307-332-5300 32 | THE LEADER

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