NOLS' Newest Book is a Perfect Holiday Gift: Canoeing
Effortlessly gliding through the crystal clear, smooth water, the canoes’ bow pierces the flat surface and sends ripples outward toward the shores. A single-bladed paddle silently dips into the water, propelling the watercraft further onward.
The simple, yet magnificent practicality of a canoe has been around for years. From the earliest cedar-ribbed and birch bark skinned hulls to the wood-and-canvas construction, and on to the modern-day myriad of ABS plastics, foam, and vinyl that are pressed together and known as Royalex. The materials, as well as the people using canoes, have changed drastically over time.
Nowadays canoes can be found splitting through Arctic waters bumping edges with mini icebergs, crossing the vast Pacific Ocean with help of sails and are still found on small lakes and ponds throughout the world. They are vessels for recreation, transportation, and scientific studies, among other things.
The new NOLS book, Canoeing, written by Alexander Martin and published by Stackpole Books, goes in-depth to explore and enhance the overall understanding of every aspect of canoeing—from planning an expedition and describing in detail the parts of a canoe to water science and river maneuvers and travel. Martin, a NOLS instructor since 2008, has a great understanding of a variety of canoe expeditions and was able to use past experiences and knowledge to create this all-encompassing canoeing book.
The book is the perfect gift for anyone with a passion for canoeing who would like to learn more regarding expedition canoeing, water travel and techniques, wilderness navigation, as well as advanced skills and other aspects that make up the world of canoeing. This book will serve as a great resource with colorful graphics and pictures to help demonstrate and teach skills and concepts. As everyone settles in for winter in the Northern Hemisphere, Canoeing will be a great companion. While the snow falls and the winds howl, read up on everything canoe related and gain more insight and excitement with each page. Then when winter finally loses its grip on the land and the waterways flow freely, unimpeded by ice, you can set off your own canoe expedition.
For those who wish to gain even more canoe experience and skills, a great avenue is a NOLS course. There are multiple courses with a canoeing component that will allow you to build a foundation and further your canoeing knowledge and experience. NOLS has taught canoe travel for the last four decades. Significant canoe components can be found at multiple NOLS operating locations including the Yukon, the Brazilian Amazon, Australia, American Southwest and Alaska. Any of these courses or locations would be greatly beneficial to anyone wishing to enhance their outdoor skills, leadership development, environmental studies and risk management techniques.
NZSF 1 & 2 Semester Graduation
NZSF-1 9/12/13 and NZSF-2 9/12/13 finished their hiking sections and came back to the NOLS NZ base on Tuesday. The semesters ended with a rewarding Independent Student Group Expedition.
The groups finished their semesters feeling very successful in their personal and group accomplishments. When looking back on all three sections they appreciated the different opportunities each skill type offered including leadership roles and personal challenge.
Throughout their hiking sections both groups enjoyed ideal New Zealand summer weather until the last night in the field when it bucketed down rain.
Both groups were dropped off in Nelson Wednesday afternoon happy and healthy.
Patagonia welcomes Season 2013-2014 Adventurers!
THE SEASON IS ON AT PATAGONIA!! We’ve been operating in different areas of this region with tons of good experiences for our students. Semester courses are still in the field after some transitions and the same for Patagonia Year courses. NAWE 1-2 (11/20) finished their hiking course in Cerro Castillo area and El Cordillerano. They spent 10 days hiking, learning leadership skills, and how to live comfortably in the outdoors.
Spring semesters SSPM 1-2 (9/25) after their first section in the mountains around El Engaño and navigating through the fiords around Raúl Marín Balmaceda have transitioned and switched to their next section. Mountaineers now are around Mt. Melimoyu and the Kayakers started paddling towards Isla Magdalena National Park (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magdalena_Island,_Ays%C3%A9n_Region)
SSPM 1-2 (10/2) Mountaineers after spending a month in the mountains of Cerro Castillo (http://www.chile.travel/en/where-to-go/patagonia/northern-patagonia/tour/reserva-nacional-cerro-castillo.html), learning technical skills among other leadership and basic skills were able to climb some peaks, go through some high passes and camp in some beautiful locations for a month. Kayakers went to navigate through Archipiélago de los Chonos, were able to cross Darwin Channel and saw Blue Whales, as well as other beautiful species like penguins and dolphins completing an ambitious route of 225 miles long. Right now both courses transitioned and are in the Mountains around Mt. San Lorenzo and paddling across Fiordo Aysén.
Patagonia year courses are also learning a bunch and enjoying their time in the region. PY1-2 (10/19) after finishing their first section doing hiking are in the Mountains around Hidden Valley and the Barrancoso while PY3 (10/14) are learning first aid skills doing their Wilderness First Responder course after successfully completing a month of sea kayaking around the beautiful town Caleta Tortel.
Congratulations to all our students completing their courses and their sections in the field. Keep working hard and enjoying Patagonia!
New Zealand semesters enter final sections
When the students on NZSF-4-9/26/2013 returned to the branch this week for their intown switch (from Sea Kayaking to Canoeing), there was an easy consensus about the highlight of the section: It was the day hundreds of dolphins surrounded the kayaks, leaping and diving and skimming the surface. The dolphins stayed for more than an hour, and if that wasn't exciting enough, the group watched as the dolphins were eventually chased away by a pair of orcas on the hunt. Instructor Yuri, who's been paddling the Marlborough Sounds for four seasons, told me it was the most spectacular display of wildlife she's ever seen out there.
The course traveled in the Pelorus and Kenepuru Sounds for 20 days. With mild to moderate weather conditions, the group was able to travel 93 nautical miles. Paddling conditions included winds to 15 knots and seas to two feet. Storms with winds up to 45 knots kept the group ashore some days. They had mainly sunny days with a few days of rain. In addition to the dolphins and orcas, the group saw New Zealand fur seal, little blue penguins, manta rays and a variety of sea birds such as terns, oystercatchers, Australasian gannets, kingfishers, wekas, shearwaters, shags, albatross and more. The curriculum in this second section focused on strong sea kayak skills (strokes, rescues and rolling), leadership skills and natural history.
Thank you to student Marilyn Farrell for providing these photos.
And here they are ready to go Canoeing:
We also had a chance to see NZSF-3 last week during their field switch. Our driver picked up the group from the Lake Tennyson campground in Nelson Lakes. From there it was a short drive to the small town of Hanmer Springs where the group camped for one night, cleaning gear, taking showers and meeting their new instructors. We are sorry that were unable to take any pictures at the switch. We will catch up with this group again in early December when they complete their Mountaineering section and return to the branch for graduation.
Meanwhile, I do have one group shot from the Canoe section that didn't make it up on the blog earlier. Cheers!
The final week
The last fall Semester in the Pacific Northwest of 2013 is entering its final week. This group of ten began their experience on September 4th. In the intervening almost three months they've mountaineered in the North Cascades, climbed at Smith Rock, hiked on the rarely visited Nootka Island, and are now sailing south in Desolation Sound. Motivation is still high to make the most of their last seven days.
Keelboat sailing on a NOLS Semester gives students the opportunity to practice designated leadership in a structured yet dynamic environment. For more sailing opportunities at NOLS Pacific Northwest consider the Semester on the Borders, a Sea Kayak/Sail Course, or the new Waddington Mountaineer/Sail Course.
For their final week this group is joined by Kyle Duba, part of the NOLS Creative team, to capture keelboat sailing video footage for a future "NOLS Pacific Northwest" video and a "Sailing at NOLS" video.
Permalink | Posted by Chris Agnew on Nov 18, 2013
Youth Leadership Conference - North Cascades Institute
NOLS 2013 Stewardship Award goes to Myron Jeffs of the BLM Henry Mountain Field Office
On Saturday, Oct. 12, the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) awarded its 2013 Stewardship Award to Myron Jeffs, outdoor recreation planner for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Henry Mountain Field Office in Hanksville, Utah. The NOLS Stewardship Award, presented annually since 1990, recognizes individuals who have demonstrated exceptional stewardship of public lands and the environment.
NOLS chose to honor Jeffs for the exceptional role he plays as liaison to the private and commercial outdoor recreation community. Outdoor enthusiasts of all stripes benefit from Jeffs’ balanced and communicative approach to recreation planning. Visitors from around the country and the globe leave the Henry Mountain Field Office with a better understanding of issues facing public lands after interacting with Jeffs, thanks to the high bar he sets for outreach and dialogue.
On NOLS canyoneering courses along the Dirty Devil River, Jeffs visits with every course. He facilitates engaging land management discussions with NOLS students, as well as with other recreation clubs and outdoor education organizations. In that same vein, he regularly facilitates and encourages volunteerism among outdoor recreation groups.
NOLS Rocky Mountain Assistant Director Andy Blair said NOLS students and instructors alike are enthusiastic about their discussions with Jeffs.
“They are impressed with how open, candid, and objective [Jeffs] has been when they ask about various management topics,” said Blair. “These topics range across a wide spectrum including recreational impacts, group size, grazing, oil and gas and mineral development.”
Originally from Castle Dale, Utah, Jeffs has a long history of working on public lands in the west. Prior to his current position, he worked for the Price BLM Field Office, Nevada State Parks and for Utah State Parks.
Taking Stock of the Government Shutdown
Tourists and wedding hopefuls weren’t the only ones disappointed by the closure of the National Parks and other public lands during the partial government shutdown. As barricades and closure signs adorned the normally welcoming entrances to parks and national forests, those in the outdoor education industry were, in some cases, left without a classroom. Several NOLS locations had to re-route courses at the last minute, quickly adapting and finding new locations for several courses.
- A Semester in the Northwest course had its hiking section moved from North Cascades National Park to the adjacent Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest and was able to run without further complications. Another Semester in the Northwest course was scheduled to run their coastal hiking section in Olympic National Park and instead they hiked on Nootka Island, off the west coast of Vancouver Island.
- NOLS Southwest had a canoeing section scheduled to run through Big Bend National Park in western Texas and had to relocate upriver to Big Bend Ranch State Park. During the two days of logistics and shuffling around the students were sent to a primitive skills camp just outside of Tucson. The students ran the same part of the river twice, as entrance downriver into the National Park was off-limits. A custom course with NASA at NOLS Southwest was also postponed.
- At NOLS Rocky Mountain, a climbing course scheduled for Devil’s Tower National Monument moved to Vedauwoo.
- NOLS Teton Valley was not affected, but if the shutdown had taken place during the river running season, a course that runs through the Salmon-Challis National Forest likely would have been re-routed.
Though public lands have re-opened, the shutdown will continue to have rippling effects as commercial outfitters try to regain the momentum they lost.
The Stormy Southern Alps of New Zealand
Our second New Zealand Semester, NZSF-2-9/12/2013, has just completed their Mountaineering section and has started their Backpacking section. Theirs was a field switch, meaning a couple of us from the branch drove down to meet them for a quick overnight transition at a campground. There was time to take showers, organize the food and fuel resupply and read mail -- and then it was time to head back into the field.
The Mountaineering section had its highlights -- alpine starts, an earthquake (first time for a few students), a fun leadership activity about signature styles -- but it was primarily a lesson in Tolerance for Adversity and Uncertainty. Learning to endure, even enjoy, hard work and learning to adapt to change are key skills in the NOLS Leadership model, and theses students had plenty of practice. The weather in the Southern Alps was harsh nearly every day of their section, with driving rain and snow pushing up river levels throughout the range. Tents often had to be braced all night long, which made for little sleep. Keeping sleeping bags and base layers dry took persistence and good camp skills. Near whiteout conditions had them wondering if their helicopter resupply would make it in (it did!). Many days the rivers were so high they could not be crossed safely, which left the group stuck waiting and making daily changes to their travel plans.
Jared Spaulding, one of the instructors on the course, wrote a blog post about one particular night of storms. Check it out here.
Jared also provided these photos of the group, all of which were taken during some of the brief weather windows of blue sky.
The group was able to develop basic mountaineering skills and climbed cols in both the Froude Range and Jollie Range. And the sun finally came out for the last few days, which the course spent ascending and descending the Sinclair Valley; these three of days of intense offtrail travel were praised as the most difficult and most satisfying of the section.
The switch was held at the Lake Taylor Campground, a remote and rustic spot managed by New Zealand's Dept of Conservation. Here are a few pictures of the transition:
On the drive from the Mountaineering pickup to Lake Taylor, the group stopped at a market in the town of Amberley. Everyone took advantage of the opportunity to buy treats. This made the highlight of the switch obvious: Bacon-wrapped hot dogs for breakfast.
Double-switch at the New Zealand branch
Kia Ora from New Zealand! Two of our semester groups returned to our new facility in Aniseed Valley this week. NZSF-1 was transitioning from Sea Kayaking to Backpacking, their final section before graduation. NZSF-4 was transitioning from Backpacking to Sea Kayaking. The two groups had fewer than 24 hours at the branch to quickly clean gear, take showers, redistribute rations and meet their new instructor teams.
NZSF-1 traveled in the Pelorus Sound for 20 days, covering a distance of 58 nautical miles. Paddling conditions included winds to 15 knots and seas to two feet, as well as currents up to 4 knots in the Allen Strait. Storms with winds up to 50 knots kept the group ashore some days. The group saw heaps of wildlife, including the New Zealand fur seal, little blue penguin, dolphins and a variety of sea birds such as terns, oystercatchers, Australasian gannets,kingfishers, wekas, shearwaters, shags, albatross and more.
Student Aidan Power provided me with some great photos from the field.
NZSF-1 began their semester in New Zealand with Mountaineering. Since that section was completed, one of their instructors, Jared Spaulding, added a post about the course to his blog. Folks interested in hearing more about the group decision-making process, and the stormy conditions experienced during that section, will enjoy the essay. It's called "Run Like a Chicken" and it's posted on Jared's blog, Living the Dream.
NZSF-1 is now on their final section, backpacking in Kahurangi National Park. Here's a picture of them --with their instructors--just before they left the branch.
NZSF-4 started 3 weeks later than NZSF-1,so they have just completed their first section. The group traveled 31 days in the Nelson Lakes area, hiking 210 km with 6,500 meters of elevation gain. The route included valley trails and three major passes; through beech forest, grassy river flats, steep tussock slopes, scree and majestic snowfields. Every type of weather was encountered, as is typical for the New Zealand Spring; there were warm sunny days as well as lots of rain, hail and snow.
One night, the group woke up around 11 PM to incredible winds whipping through camp. Tents were broadsided as poles bent under the pressure. The noise was tremendous. The instructors' tent was the first to collapse altogether, leaving them to scramble outside in the rain. Soon everyone was up and all agreed to pack up and move camp completely into a more sheltered area. The team estimated winds were up to 80 km/hr. It was 2 AM when the group finally settled back in to sleep at their new camp. Another exciting night at NOLS!
Student Lisa Moen provided me with some great photos from various days along the expedition.
Next up for NZSF-4 is Sea Kayaking in the Marlborough Sounds. The group is fully self-sustained, meaning they are carrying all their fuel and rations for the entire expedition. Here they are just about to board the bus:
(p.s. Check back in a few days for a post about NZSF-2's field switch.)