NOLS Outdoor Educator Semester - 2014

Signed up for a 90 day backpacking semester with the National Outdoor Leadership School. I figured this was a fantastic way to really dive into the outdoor community to learn some important skills. I looked into a number of programs and kept coming back to NOLS. So I signed up in 2013 with hopes to land the spring 2014 course, which I got! NOLS is located in Lander, Wyoming which the course is taking place in Wyoming and Utah. Learning leadership skills, nature nuggets, teamwork, and a variety of technical skills. Those skills include Wilderness First Responder training, Leave No Trace Master Educator, backcountry skiing, canyoneering, whitewater canoeing, and rock climbing. 

Wilderness First Responder Training

I was super excited for this section because I value the knowledge to take care of myself and others in a wilderness setting. One can never know enough about health. This section lasted 10 days to complete the 80 hour course to gain a full certification as a WFR. Classroom was held in Boulder, Wyoming which we did classroom work followed by field scenarios. I loved it and really got into playing the role of someone hurt, felt like it added to the training to make it as real as possible. Little did I know these skills were going to be tested throughout the course with mock situations but also with some real life situations that happened. 

Backcountry Skiing

Now we have all completed out WFR training, now is the time to get out and have some fun. The next section was Backcountry skiing in the Grand Teton National Forest. I want to say it was 15 days long, but could be mistaken. I gained a Recreation Avalanche Level 1 certification, learned how to build snow shelters, winter camping skills, and of course skiing! I was hooked and see myself getting way into backcountry skiing! Oh during this section I shattered my camera. So I don't have many photos. After this section, I stated to use my cell phone to take all the photos. 

When I was working on a snow shelter I shattered my camera. So for the rest of the trip I didn't get any other photos. When I got back into town I mailed it to the company and they replaced it for me, but I would not have a camera for the next sections. Thankfully, the instructors agreed to let me use my camera phone. Cell phones were not permitted on the trips because they wanted you connect with nature and I totally agree with that. I just wanted to take photos. I was really getting into documenting trips at this point. Thinking it was going to be my next steps in life. 

Whitewater Canoeing

Over the next 12 days we paddled down the Green River in Utah. This would include areas with rapids in which we will learn how to properly navigate the water and canoe. If the rapids ever got to large or the instructors are not able to see a clean line, we would have to hardline the canoes through. We also did swift water rescue. I really feel in love with the water. 

Canyoneering Utah

Next section was learning canyoneering in Escalante area. We would be learning desert travel, dropping slot canyons, and also doing our 24 hour solo part. All of this was very exciting but I was not looking forward to the little to no trees... I am a ginger and I will burn in that kind of weather. Thankfully, down by the Escalante river was a bunch of trees, so it really was not all that bad. 

This is about he time we spent the next 24 hours solo. We could yell and hear each other for safety reason. Otherwise, we were on our own. I just slept, made a make shift shower, and enjoyed the nothingness. After the solo aspect we push onward until the instructors decided they were going to break off from the pack and we have to navigate ourselves to the next X. 

Rock Climbing in Wyoming

Our last section of the course is rock climbing at Split Rock and Sinks Canyon. I was really looking forward to this because I have always wanted to learn about rock climbing, ropes, and all that other fun stuff. Plus to climb around! I always am climbing something, but now its something big. I totally fell in love with crack. Crack climbing that is. Off width climbing is what some call it. Compared to slab climbing with its stupid little finger holds. Not built for that. Built more for the crack and slam my fist into them. We also spend a few hours helping plant trees in an area that had a wildfire.