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Backcountry Lessons for Today’s World: Tolerance for Adversity and Uncertainty

By Sophie Komornicki on Mar 26, 2020
Photo by Oscar Manguy

The term “uncertainty” has become a buzzword as we navigate a new normal—practicing social distancing, adjusting to working remotely, supporting our kids as they begin online classes, and searching stores for toilet paper or disinfecting wipes. However, enduring unexpected challenges is not a new concept, especially for those of us who regularly adventure outdoors. Almost every trip into the backcountry has some kind of uncertainty and adversity, and the skills you learned there can apply to today’s frontcounty.

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Topics: Leadership Skills, tolerance for adversity and uncertainty, Tolerance for Adversity, backcountry, Leadership, Covid-19

3 Tips to Improve Your Outdoor Photography Game

By Will Harrison on Aug 12, 2016

Taking photos in the wilderness is a great way to capture memories you will hold for a lifetime. There’s nothing better than coming home with a camera full of your favorite moments—laughing around the campsite with friends, the delicious pizza you managed to perfect (albeit the third attempt), and the breathtaking vistas of the alpenglow on Bastion Peak in the Wind River Range.

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Topics: Alumni, Backpacking, adventure, Mountaineering, backcountry, photography

6 Secret Ingredients to Try on Your Next Camping Trip

By Jeff Mogavero on Aug 2, 2016

In NOLS rations, there is certainly no shortage of ingredients to whip up the most scrumptious of backcountry meals. But some instructors and students like to take backcountry cooking to the next level.

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Topics: Expedition Prep, recipe, cooking, Backpacking, education, backcountry

6 Reasons Wilderness First Aid Is for Everyone

By Sarah Buer on Jul 29, 2016

I refused to wear anything other than dresses until I was 7 …and even then it was only because my family moved to a small country town in northeast Wyoming and I wanted to fit in.

I’ve been a “girly girl” my entire life, and I had no interest in playing in the backcountry until about three years ago when I transferred to a university in the Black Hills of South Dakota and was lured out by their beauty and the exercise (plus, I got invited to go hiking with an attractive guy who has now been my partner in all adventures and in life for the past three years).

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Topics: Alumni, Leadership Skills, First Aid, education, backcountry, NOLS Wilderness Medicine, snowboarding, Wilderness Medicine

Test Your Medical Skills: Scenario Near Yellowstone Park

By Sarah Buer on Jul 26, 2016

What would you do in this situation? Test your medical knowledge and decision-making skills with this scenario from Tod Schimelpfenig!

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Topics: Leadership Skills, Case Studies, education, backcountry, NOLS Wilderness Medicine, Wilderness Medicine

Why City People Are Made for the Backcountry

By Shelby Cranshaw on Jul 22, 2016

 A city prepares you for the backcountry more than most might think. We call them “concrete jungles” for a reason. 

In a city, you develop a certain set of skills that translate surprisingly well into the wild. So fear not, city dwellers—here's why you're already prepared for the backcountry.

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Topics: adventure, backcountry

11 Essentials to Complete Your Backcountry Kitchen

By Sam Cook on Jul 21, 2016

Having a complete cooking for camping set does not come easy. Outdoor gear can be expensive, and usually has to be bought in small doses. You might have a stove, but no spice kit. You may have a knife, but no fry-bake.

It’s a smart idea to figure out which friends have which items so you can divide and conquer, but if you are on a mission to have your own complete cook set, here are the essentials you will need.

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Topics: Expedition Prep, cooking, adventure, expedition, backcountry

7 Materials That Can Be Used To Improvise a Splint

By Sarah Buer on Jul 18, 2016

An important part of managing emergencies in the backcountry is coming up with first aid solutions using the supplies you have on hand. Knowing how to make a homemade, or improvised, splint to immobilize an injured arm, wrist, finger, or a suspected broken leg is a key wilderness first aid skill.

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Topics: education, backcountry, NOLS Wilderness Medicine, Wilderness Medicine

Educator Expedition: A Day in the Waddington Range

By Katie Oram on Jul 18, 2016

We arrived in Bluff Lake, British Columbia at 1:30AM from various places: Roger and I driving 30 hours from Wyoming, Jeremy flying in from California and Dane just finishing up class in Vancouver. We had been talking about it for a while now, applied for the funding from the Instructor Development Fund, but still it had just been this idea: a ski expedition to the Waddington Range in British Columbia, home to some very remote, high peaks and endless miles of glaciers with real hazards.

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Topics: Leadership Skills, NOLS Yukon, climbing, adventure, Educators Notebook, Becoming an Instructor, Mountaineering, backcountry, IDF, Instructor Development Fund

The Backpacker’s Guide to Happy Feet

By Kim Freitas on Jul 14, 2016

If you like to adventure outdoors, you’ll know during backpacking trips that your feet are your primary mode of transportation. Spending extra effort to keep your feet happy and dry is well worth your time and attention. After all, your feet are essentially your “wheels” in the backcountry!

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Topics: Expedition Prep, climbing, Backpacking, adventure, education, backcountry

10 Ways to Celebrate While in the Backcountry

By Sarah Buer on Jun 30, 2016

Just because you're camping doesn't mean that you can't celebrate any occasion with a little creative and a healthy dollop of fun!

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Topics: Expedition Prep, adventure, backcountry

13 Signs You’re Having Trouble Getting Back into City Life

By Molly Herber on Jun 24, 2016

Spending days at a time in the outdoors is pretty darn awesome, but at some point, we all come back to the frontcountry. For some of us, it can be hard to make that transition happen.

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Topics: adventure, backcountry

Backcountry Chilling Over Oil Drilling [Book Review]

By Sam Cook on Jun 16, 2016

There’s been a debate about it since 1980.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has been threatened for years because of the oil within its borders. Due to political pressure, a 1.5 million-acre section of coastal plain was left unprotected. In 1980, Congress renamed the region, calling it the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).

Now, the ANILCA prohibits oil and gas development on that coastal plain, but allows for Congress to permit it in the future.

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Topics: Alumni, Environment, review, adventure, wilderness, backcountry

Thanking the Wilderness for Letting Me In

By Maya Johnston on Jun 7, 2016

Photo by Adam Stoumen.


“T’is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

From the poem “Ulysses” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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Topics: Alumni, Semester, NOLS Pacific Northwest, backcountry

Confessions from the Wilderness [Interview]

By Kim Freitas on Jun 3, 2016

Eli Marienthal’s final big-screen film role was in 2004’s Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen. Since then, Marienthal has left acting behind and gone on to discover a love of the wilderness as an outdoor educator. He founded W.I.L.D., which stands for Wilderness Immersion and Leadership Development, and Back to Earth, where his longtime friend Jesse Sachs is his business partner, collaborator and co-trip leader.

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Topics: Leadership Skills, adventure, education, backcountry