3 Ideas to Feed Your Inner Wild

By Will Harrison

Mar 13, 2017

line of hikers wearing backpacks trek up a snowfield with blue sky and clouds above
Our Wind River Mountaineering crew on Goat Flat. Photo by Will Harrison.

As NOLS alumni and outdoor enthusiasts know, it’s a strange process returning to the frontcountry. From trying to suppress thoughts that not everywhere is a restroom, to resisting the urge to lock your phone away forever, there’s a little bit of wilderness that gets tangled with our inner selves and is constantly looking for a way out.

If you’re like me and living in a bigger city, going to school, or just looking to find a trail to feel back in the woods again, here are some tips you can use to survive in the city.

1. Group Up

When you want to get out in the woods but don’t have enough gear or experience, joining in a group experience is a great way to find like-minded friends or learn from people who have more wilderness experience than you.

If you’re in college, you might find an outdoor recreation organization that schedules meetups, classes, and even trips! Most colleges also have gear available to rent if you want to take some friends out backpacking and show off your high-quality camp cooking skills. If your college doesn’t have something like this, start a club and consult local vendors for sponsorships and potential gear (talk about a résumé boost!).

Additionally, many cities have organizations and even companies (such as REI) that schedule events and trips both near and far for those looking to get outside. Gear usually comes included in the fee, so you don’t have to own a sizable gear collection to participate.

NOLS course on a snowfield at sunrise getting ready to summit Gannett Peak in Wyoming
Getting ready to move out to summit Gannett Peak in the Wind River Range. Photo by Will Harrison.

2. Educate Others

Educating others on important aspects for the everyday hiker, like Leave No Trace (LNT), is a great way to help others and keep yourself sharp. Many college and organizations seek out trip leaders with these skills to facilitate trips and educate those new to backpacking and other activities.

If you don’t want to take folks camping, try finding conservation efforts going on where you live or attend school. Spending a Saturday doing some volunteering, like trail maintenance, gets the double-whammy of being a good citizen and playing hard in the woods (and might get you ready for an alumni service trip).

3. Plan It Out

If you’re busy like me, finding the free time to attend group trips can be an obstacle. However, finding some campsites and trails around your area is a great way to get outside when the opportunity arises. Having something to look forward to can make spending time in the frontcountry a little more exciting and give you a goal to work towards.

Nothing makes me more excited than prepping for my next camping trip—it's like therapy when you're trapped in a concrete jungle!

NOLS student wearing neon jacket secures blue and tan mega-mid tent in a rocky camp in the mountains
Pitching tents in the Dinwoody Cirque. Photo by Will Harrison.


If you're trying to schedule your own trips, make sure you plan for all the fees (parking, campsites, food, etc.) and permits (check the area’s website) required for your trip. When you get outside, remember to follow Leave No Trace principles to preserve the space for everyone, and set a good example for those you’re traveling with!

Editor's note: Will took these amazing photos on a Wind River Mountaineering course.

Written By

Will Harrison

Will Harrison is a film student at Florida State University, and a graduate of Wind River Mountaineering and Wilderness First Aid courses. He enjoys landscape photography, backpacking, mountaineering, and running! Follow Will on Instagram at @will_harrison

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