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My Path to Outdoor Education from a Semester in Alaska

By Katiya Gombar on Jul 15, 2019

Editor's note: Katiya took a semester in Alaska in the summer of 2016 and became a NOLS instructor in May 2019.

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Topics: Semester, Live the Dream, outdoor education, Alaska, stories

Why We Leave Phones Behind on NOLS Courses (and why you should do it more often)

By Molly Herber on Jul 1, 2019

Photo by Molly Hagbrand.

Cell phones are becoming better adventure tools every day. You can find what feels like endless apps for navigation, trip guides, even stargazing.

So why, when you look through a NOLS equipment list, is a cell phone nowhere to be found?

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Topics: technology, Live the Dream, wilderness, stories

I Don't Need to Be an Extrovert to Lead: Reflections on Backpacking in Alaska

By Natasha Gold on Jun 18, 2019
Photo by Natasha Gold
 

In January 2018, I was perusing the internet for outdoor schools on a whim that perhaps I would apply to a program. I stumbled onto the NOLS website; instantly, I wanted to go.

I found an 8-day women-only backpacking expedition in Alaska. I liked the idea of a women’s only trip and I have wanted to camp in Alaska since I was little.

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Topics: Live the Dream, Alaska, all-women, inspiring women, leadership, women in leadership

There and Back Again, a Patagonia Tale: The Patagonia Cultural Expedition

By Jen Antocci on May 29, 2019

Photo courtesy of Alex Chang - Cornell Leadership Expedition.
 

I was sitting in my doctor’s office, awkwardly fussing with my johnny gown and glancing down at the NOLS health form in my hands. My doctor comes in and after some formal chitchat I ask her to complete the health clearance for this month long hiking and cultural expedition in Patagonia.

“A month of hiking? Sleeping in tents? In South America? Are you being punished?” she half joked. “No, I’m paying to do this” I joked back. “Well good for you, I don’t even like going out in my backyard.” She signed the form and I left the office, mentally checking off the final item on my expedition to-do list.

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Topics: Patagonia, culture, Live the Dream, cultural expedition, stories

Brave, Not Perfect

By Mairin Rogers on Mar 19, 2019

Photo by Alison Peterson.

My mom always told me that I was brave. Brave for learning to play a new instrument, brave for trying out for a sports team, brave for venturing off on my own. During my three months in the backcountry on a NOLS course, however, I realized she was wrong. I wasn’t brave—I was scared.

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Topics: Semester, NOLS Mexico, Baja, Live the Dream, Semester in Baja, stories

"There Is No Limit:" A Kenyan Mountain Guide Advances Her Wilderness Training

By Carol Wanjiru (Mimie) on Mar 13, 2019

On the right is Ol Doinyo Lengai Mountain, which we would attempt summit later that night. On the left is Lake Natron (on the Tanzania side of the border) and Shompole Mountain Conservancy (on the Kenya side). Photo by Carol Wanjiru.
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Topics: Live the Dream, inspiring women, NOLS East Africa, women in leadership, stories

Andrew Bobilya: Taking the Classroom Outdoors

By Brooke Ortel on Feb 20, 2019

Andrew teaches rock climbing during an “Introduction to Outdoor Pursuits” class. Photo courtesy of Andrew Bobilya.

As an undergrad studying outdoor education, Andrew Bobilya didn’t aspire to be a professor. He didn’t plan on going into academia. Like many expeditions, his career didn’t follow exactly the path he expected.

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Topics: NOLS Mexico, NOLS alumni, NOLS Grad, Baja Sea Kayaking, Live the Dream, outdoor education, stories

My Semester in Baja, as Told in Food and Sunsets [photo essay]

By Claire Burgeson on Jan 22, 2019

On the seventh day of my Spring Semester in Baja, we bought a goat.

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Topics: sailing, Baja Sea Kayaking, culture, Live the Dream, photos, Semester in Baja, NOLS Expeditions, stories

A New Map: A NOLS Grad’s Journey to Walking Again

By Dan Kenah on Jan 14, 2019


Photo by Mireille Brown.

In his 1997 Idaho Adventure Course evaluation, Jim Harris’ instructors noted that “map reading comes easily to Jim.”

He reflected on that skill recently, and how it felt like he "was given the keys to the castle. I could go anywhere on the planet" with it.

But at the time he had no idea it would lead him down a path where few maps exist to show the way forward.

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Topics: Alumni, Adventure Courses, Live the Dream, stories

Best of NOLS Instagram in 2018

By Caleb Walker on Dec 21, 2018

Your favorite photos of wilderness, friendship, and leadership from NOLS Instagram.

Find a little inspiration as you start dreaming of your adventures for 2019… 

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Topics: NOLS Patagonia, NOLS Rocky Mountain, NOLS Alaska, Backpacking, NOLS Pacific Northwest, Live the Dream, river crossing, mountaineering, winter, tent, NOLS Three Peaks Ranch, photography, photos, stories

Your 8 Favorite Wilderness Medicine Posts of 2018

By NOLS on Dec 19, 2018

While wilderness medicine is a constantly evolving field, some things stay the same—like people wondering whether it’s really ok to suck out snake venom, or the steps of the Patient Assessment System.

As 2018 wraps up, our team gathered this year’s most popular wilderness medicine topics from the NOLS Blog. Take a look to refresh your skills and get ready for whatever comes your way in 2019!

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Topics: first aid, wilderness medicine, Live the Dream

Do NOLS Even (and Especially) If You’re Scared

By Olivia Hewitt on Dec 10, 2018
Me feeling excited and nervous right before I shared some passages from my journal with the group. Taken at Martin's Park campsite, one of the most beautiful spots we came to. Photo courtesy of Olivia Hewitt.

About four months ago I sat in one of my college’s campus cafés and procrastinated away my final few minutes before class. I was in the middle of a season of complete chaos, and was trying to find something that would re-energize and center me. I was scrolling through a bunch of NOLS blog posts when suddenly a strange thing happened:

As I read about tents being blown over at 3 a.m. by torrential rain, days of brutal heat and scarce food and blistering heels, I started to cry tears of joy.

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Topics: Live the Dream, Pacific Northwest Backpacking, expeditions, stories

How to Take the Mountains Home: A Gateway Scholar Reflects on Horsepacking

By Cristina Edwards on Nov 19, 2018


Picture captured by Eve Cinquino.

Before Rebeca Espinosa set off on her Wilderness Horsepacking course, she wasn’t sure she’d be challenged on the 21-day expedition. With horses carrying all the gear, and students and instructors riding on horseback, it was hard to see what about the course could be difficult.

At 5:45 a.m. the next day, it became clearer. 

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Topics: horsepacking, scholarship, Live the Dream, Gateway Partner, Gateway Scholar, stories

Sketches from Tanzania

By Mingyuk Chen on Nov 14, 2018

At the first camp site in Tanzania, I was so taken by the silhouette of the thorn acacia trees outlined by the setting sun that I found myself sketching them in the dark with just a dim light behind me.

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Topics: Live the Dream, wildlife, NOLS East Africa, NOLS Tanzania, safari, visual art, stories

Simple Views Teach Profound Lessons: Sunrise in the Himalaya

By Chris Pouch on Oct 2, 2018

Students en route to Camp 1 on a cold, clear morning, with Nanda Devi (middle) and Nanda Devi East (right) in the background. Photo by Chris Pouch.
 

Nanda Devi, according to the legend of villagers in the Garhwal and Kumaon regions of India, was a beautiful princess. When a prince fell in love with her and asked to marry her, she refused, sending him into a rage. The prince declared war and forced Nanda Devi to flee to the mountains. She climbed to the heights of a snow-covered peak in search of refuge. When she could go no higher, she rested, looking down from the top of the world. This summit proved to be her final resting place as she merged with the mountain, leaving behind only her spirit, present in the wind and snow, and her name, which now belongs to the place that took her: Nanda Devi.

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Topics: Himalaya, Live the Dream, mountaineering, NOLS India, stories