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What I Learned About Resilience from Swimming an Icy Canyon Pond

By Maddy Eschholz on 5/30/18 8:29 AM

Photo by Lindsay Nohl.

Limb-numbing cold water drips down my shirt and pants. Uncontrollable, body wracking shivers. Shallow, quick breaths don't quite fill my lungs. Tears that I couldn't hold in any longer rolling down my cheeks. I hate this. I want to go home. Why do people think this is fun? Why am I so emotional? Why won't these tears stop?

These thoughts and feelings all came rushing into my head after swimming through a deep pond in a slot canyon on the sixth day of my NOLS course. It was November, and the water was the coldest thing I’ve ever felt—it was the kind of cold that made it hurt to take a deep breath. This was the hardest moment of my trip, but also the time when I learned the most about myself and who I wanted to be.

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Topics: Semester in the Rockies, Live the Dream, Utah, canyoneering

The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful: Why I Went Back to NOLS

By Elena Cabot Rodriguez on 4/3/18 9:11 AM

Photo courtesy of NOLS archives.

All my life my dad had preached the power of NOLS. The first summer he moved to the United States from Venezuela, he completed the four-week backpacking course in the Wind River Range.

Speaking little English, he cruised with his team through snowy mountain tops, only to be caught in a snowstorm at 8,000 feet with an instructor who had a leg injury. He still loves to talk about carrying the instructor up to a clearing and snuggling with him at night to prevent hypothermia.

“I’ve never done anything like it,” my dad told me.

“Cool, Papa,” I said for the thousandth time, tired of hearing about Wind River epics that seemed so foreign to me.

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Topics: Semester in the Rockies, Live the Dream, leadership, Alaska backpacking

Lessons from Escalante's Desert Canyons

By Erin Phillips on 2/13/18 8:33 AM

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

—David Wagoner

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Topics: Semester, Semester in the Rockies, Live the Dream

NOLS Gap Year: College Prep Course

By Lyda Langford on 3/16/15 7:02 AM

My NOLS Semester in the Rockies was a highly valuable aspect of my gap year because it gave me strength and skills that I need to excel in college and life.

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Topics: Semester in the Rockies, Expedition Prep, Gap Year, outdoor semester

From Coast to Coast in Seven Days . . . on a Bicycle

By Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin on 6/15/10 8:26 AM

Some of us take a week to drive across this country, but 1989 Semester in the Rockies grad Christopher Gergen is hoping to make the same time . . . on a bicycle. Christopher and his team of eight left California last week to bike across the country relay style, with each rider cycling for 24 hours at a time. Christopher's team is competing against 60 other teams from more than 20 countries over a route that covers over 3000 miles, touching 14 states and climbing over 100,000 feet. "We hope to cross the country in just seven days," Christopher wrote. "It’s a bit crazy we all admit, but it’s for a great cause." Team Durham Cares is hoping to raise $100,000 on behalf of various non-profit organizations located in the team's hometown of Durham, North Carolina.

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Topics: NOLS, Semester in the Rockies, Race Across America, National Outdoor Leadership School, Team Durham Cares, Ride Across America, Christopher Gergen, Live the Dream

NOLS Grad McCartney Racing with Lance and Levi

By Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin on 4/29/10 4:27 AM

1991 NOLS Semester in the Rockies grad Jason McCartney has been selected to join the indomitable Lance Armstrong and hill climber extraordinaire Levi Leipheimer to race for Team Mellow Johnny's in New Mexico's Tour of the Gila, which is currently under way. Jason already helped his teammate Levi win the first stage yesterday.

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Topics: NOLS, Semester in the Rockies, Tour of California, Team RadioShack, Team Mellow Johnny's, National Outdoor Leadership School, Tour of the Gila, Jason McCartney, Live the Dream