“I am going to say it's not really possible to connect the Broken Skull with other rivers in the area, the mountains are just too impassible…Black Wolf Creek is unknown. Drops at a significant gradient from Grizzly…and passes through some very narrow canyons which would probably be huge whitewater. Not really recommended to go there...It is not possible to connect Broken Skull or Black Wolf (to) Thundercloud Creek without helicopter support.” -Local river guideRead More
If you have children, you know the highs and lows of family trips in the outdoors.
Your 2-year-old, who is fascinated by the camp stove, manages to burn her finger on the off-but-still-hot Whisperlite. Your teenager complains loudly, and frequently, about discomfort in his knees on a family hike. At camp, your 7-year-old vomits but can’t describe her symptoms beyond “not feeling good.”Read More
“What’s it good for?” Our pilot asked me that question as we flew deep into Alaska’s Brooks Range. A thermal rocked our Beaver bush plane and we lurched heavily. Below us, the tree line was falling away. From the rain-speckled cockpit it looked like a giant green circle where no brave spruce grew.Read More
We found ourselves in our boat pulling away from the only dry land we could see. It looked as though a normal city neighborhood, with older homes lined up in rows covered by large shade trees, had been built in the middle of a shallow lake.Read More
When I arrived at NOLS Alaska for my 2011 Brooks Range Backpacking and River course, I learned that the Denali expedition, a trip for NOLS alumni, had just returned from a successful ascent. It was easy to distinguish its members from all the other students, since they hadn’t had the chance to shower yet! That memory stayed with me not just because of the smell, but also because I was fascinated with Denali ever since I first saw the mountain during a visit to Denali National Park in 2004.
Covered with white glaciers, Denali towers incredibly high above all the other Alaska Range peaks and the surrounding green tundra. With its summit at 6,190 m/20,310 feet, it's the highest mountain of North America and one of the coldest mountains on Earth, notorious for its storms. I was instantly impressed by it.Read More
The start of a course, or any trip with new people, is usually a little bit messy. Setting up the tent just took 45 minutes and, when you finally finish, you realize that no one has started cooking dinner yet. On top of that, you don’t even have water to cook with yet.Read More
Adventure isn’t only about going to the most remote wilderness area you can find—it’s about doing something that challenges or surprises you, and doing it with people you enjoy. Even at NOLS we don’t spend all of our time in big wilderness areas, as much as we love them.Read More
Telling your friends about the peak you climbed or the rapid you ran are the things you want to bring home from the backcountry—not a foodborne illness.
Taking turns cooking is a part of camping, and it helps when everyone has the same routines for kitchen hygiene, especially for friends who are new to cooking in the outdoors.Read More
Being intentional about the gear you pack for trips is one of the sneaky ways going to the outdoors teaches us about leadership. You don’t have a lot of room for “just in case” or “what if” when you’re carrying everything on your back or in the small hull of a boat.