Fremont the Backpack
By Kaybe Loughran
Fremont the backpack sat in a heap
Of bags, tents, and jackets, three feet deep
He waited there for a future cold weather snap
When Nate finally would have time to repair his strap
Fremont remembered his first trip out
He hadn’t an idea what the Winds were about
Back then he was Deuter pack 2602
And his nylon was shiny, factory new!
Johnny the student carried him over ridges and creeks
Together they scrambled over so many peaks
One day they hiked and hiked what felt like nonstop
Until they found themselves on Fremont peak, right at the top!
Johnny was so happy that he marked the event
By naming his trusty pack after their first mountain ascent.
Over the next few weeks, Fremont and Johnny traveled together
The land was so rugged and so was the weather
Fremont became less shiny and acquired more wear
His nylon was breaking and he needed repair
Johnny’s instructor taught them packs could be sewn
So that buying a new one could be postponed
He showed them his gaiters and other gear
Which he would probably keep using for many a year
“Take care of your things and repair them here!
You’ll eliminate work that NOLS staff must endure.”
Fremont came back into town with a little red patch,
A mark that adventure never comes without a scratch.
He hung out, rested, and became ready to spring
For the excitement the next course could bring
A few days later Fremont met Carrie Jean,
A young energetic girl of sixteen.
The first night at camp Carrie forgot
To put her snacks in the bear fence, and guess what they brought?
A little brown mouse who nibbled right through
Fremont’s fabric and into her shoe
“Eek!” she said in the light of the morning,
“My gulch crunch is gone and the ants are swarming!!”
Fremont was dragged across granite and mud
His zipper was dirty and could not be tugged
"Help" he cried, though only the tent could hear,
"Someone please teach this girl about gear!"
The tent sighed and let Fremont under his fly,
He could do little but at least he could keep Fremont dry.
So after three long weeks Fremont returned to the base
Bashed, bruised, and torn all over the place.
Kevin gave him one long look and shook his head
“Not back to the gear room, but the back pile instead!”
So that’s where Fremont is and that’s where he’ll stay
Until the base has a cold, slow, quiet day.
The staff at NOLS works hard to keep their gear in working order. Students are sent into the field with good quality stuff. Due to the nature of NOLS courses, gear never stays pristine, but NOLS instructors use these opportunities to teach students how to repair their own things. According to Kevin McGowan, who runs the gear room, whatever can be repaired in town can also be repaired in the field. Students are equipped with stove and tent repair kits as well as patch kits and a speedy stitcher for all sorts of gear. They learn repair techniques and important lessons about taking good care of their belongings. Students are often issued used gear with character and history. Puffy coats may be marked with small patches, but they are just as warm as any other jacket.
Amit puts a patch on a puffy coat that just came off of a course.
When gear comes back that needs extra special attention, like Fremont the backpack, it is usually out of commission during the busy summer months until the staff have time to work on it. The branch currently has a pile of gear to sort through, which will probably have to wait until winter. Some of this pile will end up getting sold at garage sales if it is beyond repair for extensive courses but still of use to someone else.
The pile of gear in need of repair grows steadily during the summer months.
The lifespan of a backpack is usually about two years, and a lead rope will last a few courses before it must become a top rope. Other gear has different expected lifespans, but gear ends up being approximately 18 percent of NOLS’ budget, a large part when you consider everything else that a NOLS course covers (travel, food, wages, etc.). The sustainability office is working on ways to minimize the amount of new gear NOLS purchases and maximize the amount that NOLS can repair. In general, sustainability is an integral part of NOLS’ mission, and as much as NOLS students and staff can reuse and repair, they will! NOLS instructors hope students come off courses with new drive to take care of their gear and purchase less.
Issue room staff Augustine works on sewing up a pair of pants.
Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie Sustainable Roads Meetings!
Your voice was heard by Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest! Hundreds told the National Forest what forest roads matter most to them and they listened. The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is hosting a series of public results forms to share the data collected from the sustainable roads public outreach meetings held last summer. Participants helped identify forest roads that mattered to them. The Forest is in the process of creating a sustainable road strategy to maintain the forest road system within budget for safe travel, use, administration and resource protection.
As a reminder, please come see the results from the Sustainable Roads outreach meetings:
JULY 24, 6:00-8:30 p.m.
10 West Sunset Way
JULY 29, 2:00 -4:30 p.m.
7700 Sand Point Way NE
Seattle, WA 98115
JULY 31, 6:00-8:30 p.m.
570 Sauk Avenue
Darrington, WA 98241
Photo from http://mbssustainableroads.com/
Rocky Mountain Power Foundation Supports NOLS Scholarships
NOLS is delighted to receive a $3,500 grant from the Rocky Mountain Power Foundation to provide scholarships to students from Wyoming and Utah. The funds will support underserved youth living in Wyoming and Utah as they embark on the educational adventure of a lifetime this summer.
Each year, NOLS offers $1.5 million in scholarships, enabling students who wouldn’t otherwise be able to benefit from the school’s unrivaled experiential outdoor skills and leadership training. The Rocky Mountain Power Foundation’s contribution to this initiative is of great importance to NOLS’ mission.
Rocky Mountain Power's Craig Nelson and NOLS' Pip Coe commemorate the grant in front of NOLS' solar panels, another project made possible by Rocky Mountain Power.
“The Rocky Mountain Power Foundation is pleased to support this worthy organization and its efforts to teach students valuable lessons in communication, decision-making and teamwork,” said Craig Nelson, Rocky Mountain Power customer and community manager.
“We believe positive, ethical leaders change the world,” said Pip Coe, NOLS Alumni and Development Director. “The Rocky Mountain Power Foundation demonstrates the impact of ethical community leaders while also supporting the development of future leaders by helping them take NOLS courses.”
Students interested in applying for a NOLS scholarship should submit the standard NOLS scholarship application. Find the form and learn more about scholarships at NOLS at http://www.nols.edu/financialaid/nols_scholarship.shtml.
NOLS Instructor Talks Leave No Trace Practices and Perspectives
In a recent interview on Alaska Public Media's Outdoor Explorer program, NOLS Instructor Tre-C Dumais speaks about the ethics and practices of Leave No Trace (LNT). In addition to practical tips, listen in for a rich discussion about wild places and their role in our lives, wilderness ethics on a NOLS course, and the way we can all preserve the value wilderness for future generations. Enjoy!
Click here for current LNT courses offered through NOLS.
Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie Sustainable Roads
Forest Service roads provide outstanding access to a breadth of interests from recreation to research to commercial activities. Faced with limited resources to maintain the large network of roads in Western Washington, the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and Sustainable Roads Cadre united in 2013 to research how the public uses the roads in this National Forest. The groups hosted community meetings in the Puget Sound area that attracted 224 people to speak about the roads they value most. An additional 1800 people filled in the online questionnaire, providing the Mt. Baker Sustainable Roads team with plenty of data with which to make appropriate recreation and stewardship decisions for the future. The groups are hosting a further series of meetings to discuss the results of the research and are inviting interested members of the public to join them. Check out your local event listed below!
Capacity limits attendance to a first-come basis. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
JULY 10, 6:00-8:30 p.m.
Bellingham Public Library
210 Central Ave
Bellingham, WA 98227
JULY 17, 6:00-8:30 p.m.
Park Place Middle School Commons
1408 W Main St.
Monroe, WA 98272
JULY 24, 6:00-8:30 p.m.
Issaquah Main Library
10 West Sunset Way
JULY 29, 2:00 -4:30 p.m.
7700 Sand Point Way NE
Seattle, WA 98115
JULY 31, 6:00-8:30 p.m.
Darrington Community Center
570 Sauk Avenue
Darrington, WA 98241
For more info check out the webiste at http://mbssustainableroads.com/
Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation!
Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation (ASC) is an organization that provides opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to give back to conservation science. ASC pairs a network of outdoor volunteers with scientific agencies that are in need of data from hard to reach places. This is a fantastic opportunity for NOLS alumni to put their wilderness skills to use in aid of conservation science! For more info check out ASC’s web page here. A recent project in the Pacific Northwest placed volunteers on a 3-month long search for Pacific Marten in the Olympic National Forest. You can explore Olympic National Park, immediately to the west of the project area, on a Fall Semester in the Pacific Northwest, Pacific Northwest Backpacking Adventure, or Pacific Northwest Backpacking course. Check out the video of the search for the Pacific Marten below (credit to ASC).
Indigenous Voices Speaking Out for Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)
Miho Aida is an accomplished documentary filmmaker and former NOLS field instructor. Please join her on Monday June 30th for the Skagit Valley screening of “The Sacred Place Where Life Begins – Gwich’in Women Speak." The film provides a platform for Arctic indigenous Gwich’in women to speak out and inspire audiences around the country to protect their sacred land in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska from oil drilling. The short documentary won the Audience Choice Award at the 2014 Earth Port Film Festival and was nominated for Best Documentary Short at the 2013 American Indian Film Festival. Miho is currently doing a west coast tour on her bicycle to share her film!
Monday, June 30th at NOLS Pacific Northwest (in dining hall)
20950 Bulson Road, Mt. Vernon, 98274
Stewarding the Mt. Baker area
The beautiful Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest lies to the north and east of the NOLS Pacific Northwest campus in Conway, WA. This area of alpine ecosystem wilderness serves as an amazing classroom for our North Cascades Mountaineering and Outdoor Educator Mountaineering Programs. Each summer the Forest Service looks for volunteers to serve as Mountain Stewards to help teach hikers and climbers in the area to look after and protect this beautiful area of the Cascades. For those from the Northwest, check out this amazing opportunity to give back here!
Pushroot Garden Earth Day a Success!
The Pushroot Community Garden Earth Day event went splendidly!
We would like to thank Safeway, Mr. D’s, Gannett Grill, Bread Board, and Valley Printing once again for their generous donations that fueled the work day!
Basic beautification happened throughout the garden. Here, Justin Alexandre gently pulls away any weeds that have grown in since last season.
Kevin Redmon flashes a big smile in the raspberry patch.
Monty, one of the master gardeners at Pushroot, gets his hair styled by a garden rake.
We were happy to help Pushroot prep their garden this spring. We hope that they have a bountiful and sunny season!!
In Their Words: NOLS New Zealand
Students who turn to NOLS for their semester abroad treasure the experience. Wendy Cirko and Cory McDonald both took NOLS semesters as their semesters abroad last year. Both Spring Semester in New Zealand graduates, shared their reflections on the experience and the education with us recently, and we had to share. Learn more about upcoming semesters in New Zealand here.
Wendy Cirko, 2013 Spring Semester in New Zealand:
They say that college will be the most memorable four years of your life. Here you make new friends, have new freedoms, learn new thing about yourself, and gain knowledge to shape your future. I knew that going into college I wanted to go somewhere that would allow me time to study abroad. This is how I ended up at Salisbury University, majoring in environmental studies and minoring in outdoor education and philosophy.
My sophomore year was ending and my advisor, knowing I liked the outdoors, suggested I check out NOLS for an alternative study abroad experience. I ended up in New Zealand, backpacking, kayaking, and sailing the spring semester of 2013. Getting my time with NOLS to help me earn my degree required work between my academic advisors and department heads, but in the end I received 16 transfer credits. These credits in environmental studies, risk management, and various other fields allowed me to not fall behind in school, and more importantly my NOLS semester gave me a 77-day experience that was more beneficial than any class I could have taken.
No matter where you go, spending a semester abroad is a life-changing event. The fact that I was able to spend this semester in the backcountry with NOLS was amazing and something that I would never consider trading for a more standard study abroad experience. The things I learned: taking initiative, first aid, perseverance, leading your peers, gaining self-confidence, staying positive. The new people I met: my instructors and my nine coursemates. They are the things that I will carry into my future. NOLS has helped me to further my studies, plus the skills I learned will hopefully help me in a future of outdoor education. I know that this experience has made my college years more memorable than I could have ever imagined and I am so thankful that I had this amazing opportunity.
Cory McDonald, 2013 Spring Semester in New Zealand:
I began my NOLS adventure with the intent of gaining experience in outdoor leadership for my major, outdoor recreation. As an active learner, I learn best when I am immersed in a topic, so NOLS seemed like an appropriate path. My goals going into my NOLS semester were to master practical backcountry skills such as map interpretation, route planning, risk management, and taking on leadership roles. Along with achieving these goals, I also gained insight and clarity on what I am passionate about and what is important to me.
Communication is a big part of taking on the leadership role, but the leadership role is only a small part of communication. Throughout the semester I learned how to communicate as an effective follower, an equal team member, and an individual amongst a group. Part of communication is listening and reflecting. By learning how to listen and effectively receive and reflect on feedback, you can change or expand on your self-awareness, ultimately bringing you closer to understanding yourself.
NOLS is an excellent medium for challenging and validating your self-awareness. Being engrossed in the sublimity of the wilderness along with the pure wildness of it manifested, in me, a sense of admiration for the ecological life and the geological processes that have been at work for billions of years. Contributing to this new sense of admiration was learning and practicing Leave No Trace ethical backcountry travel and learning the names of the different wildlife that surrounded me. Learning the names of the surrounding wildlife and how geological formations came to be gave me deeper respect and toward them. Through living amid the wildlife for some time, I became empathetic for the natural world.
I came away from NOLS with a new sense of compassion toward something bigger than myself. I have now added to my degree a concentration in natural resource recreation management and with that I plan to protect and preserve the natural quality of wilderness and provide opportunities for current and future generations to explore the natural world and themselves.