Students during dawn patrol. Photo by Katie Oram.
Months later, I still find myself wondering what brought me there, and what I brought back.
Always it is like this: from the warmth of home, the mind moves towards cold and distant lands. From known to unknown, from comfort into fear, from one set of questions towards another at once more vast and elemental. From union into aloneness, and then back again—but never to stay.Read More
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.Read More
Your favorite photos of wilderness, friendship, and leadership from NOLS Instagram.
Find a little inspiration as you start dreaming of your adventures for 2019…Read More
Topics: Live the Dream, photography, photos, tent, NOLS Three Peaks Ranch, NOLS Patagonia, NOLS Rocky Mountain, NOLS Alaska, river crossing, mountaineering, Backpacking, winter, NOLS Pacific Northwest, story
Musnicki climbing on Mt. Moran in the Tetons. Photo by Paul Rachele.
Editor's note: Adapted from the Fall 2016 issue of The Leader.
When Jaime Musnicki was first introduced to skiing at age two, it led to a lifelong love of winter sports and an unexpected career path.Read More
Kate Koons takes a photo of her friends on an expedition in Alaska.
Kate Koons has a love affair with winter sports.
It began when she learned to ski as part of an after-school program in northern New Jersey.
"There was one lift and one Poma and many of my first memories revolved around trying to push my sister off the Poma lift, or not fall down while skiing the icy moguls to the bottom."
These days she is referred to as the "winter guru" around NOLS.Read More
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.Read More
NOLS President John Gans announced on November 28 his plans to retire at the end of 2019. He is the fifth president in the school’s 53-year history and longest-serving leader. Gans has been a part of the school for 38 years and at the conclusion of 2019, he will have served as the school's executive director and president for 24 years. He started his NOLS journey as a scholarship student in 1979 on a Semester in Kenya, later serving as director of NOLS Alaska, admissions and marketing director, and operations director before assuming the role of president in October 1995.Read More
Photo courtesy of Kyle Courtaway.
I’m looking down the long dinner table at a rifugio (mountain hut) in the Dolomites with my childhood friends mixed with new NOLS friends. As I sit, I'm reflecting on what it took to get my friends here. We're happy, enjoying our time together in these Italian mountains.
Contrast that with a moment earlier that day: Our hiking group took a break and I spied one of my childhood friends lying prone on his back, giving me two thumbs up. But I was worrying that he was questioning his decision to go on this trip.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
Photo by Claire Burgeson
The second week of my sophomore year of college, I walked into my 9:00 a.m. history class and asked myself, “What am I still doing here?”
I was doing what I'd always done: what was expected of me. I had graduated high school, chosen a college, and just chosen a major—journalism. I got good grades, had friends—on paper, I was a list of checked boxes.
At the same time, I felt my energy and creativity drain through the holes that the classroom grind had worn through me.Read More
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.Read More
Photo by Alyssa Walker.
On our last family car camping sojourn, a three-day affair two years ago, we learned that two- and four-year-olds are too young for anyone to enjoy any aspect of car camping. There were diapers. There were legions of biting insects. There was not one, but two kid backpacks. There was a frog potty. There were tantrums. Everything was sticky. It rained. We were too close to our neighbors. Fun, but not. At all.
We took a break for a year, thinking two potty-trained kids, at a minimum, would help. This time, we resolved, would be better, more fun, the stuff of memories and traditions. Our children, at four and six, were ready. So were we.Read More