NZSF2 - Performed & Transformed!
NZSF2 9-11-25 graduated last week after returning from their 3rd section - hiking in Nelson Lakes National Park. The dominantly cold and wet weather did not detract from their achievement, and the group had opportunity to prove their wilderness skills in a 6 day mini-expedition independent of instructors at the end of the section. Congratulations to the group of 10 who started and finished this semester as a strong community, and with smiles on their faces!
NZSF2 Students and Hike Instructors basking in sunlit glory on Graduation Day
NOLS NZ Thanksgiving
NZSF-1 & 2 enjoyed an early thanksgiving dinner at NOLS NZ. The homey and hearty meal was a welcome celebration to the completion of the semesters.
New Zealand Semester One graduated yesterday after a successful final section to their semester.
The third and final section of their semester was a hiking section in the Kahurangi National Park.
Students enjoyed the independence this section was able to offer.
A highlight was climbing to the top of Mount Patriarch and enjoying the views as the clouds lifted.
Remember "hard to easy"
NZSF Final Sections and Instructor Teams
New Zealand Fall Semesters are now on the third and final section of their semesters.
NZSF 1 & 2 are due back next week.
NZSF 3,4 & 5 mail might arrive in time if you send it before this weekend.
NZSF-1 is Hiking
NZSF-2 is Hiking
NZSF-3 is Mountaineering
NZSF-4 is Sea Kayaking
NZSF-5 is Canoeing
New Zeand Semester five came through the NOLS base earlier this week. They completed a windy Sea Kayak section in the Marlborough Sounds and were last seen yesterday paddling down the Clarence River in Canoes.
NZSF-3 Hike to Mountain
New Zealand Fall Semester Three switched from Hiking to Mountaineering last week. The group is now on the third and final section of their semester. They are Mountaineering in the Arthur's Pass National Park.
Patagonia Year transition
Patagonia is known as a wild and remote region, where NOLS has found a great home in Coyhaique amongst the locals and mountains. The only (unpaved) road from here will lead you South to several small towns, National Parks and beautiful wilderness. While traveling you will notice cows, sheep and other cattle wandering around on the lands, giving us small signs of society in an otherwise wild and empty land. Every now and then you will come across a gaucho home tucked away in the hills. These ‘casa’s’ are often very small, simply build and affirm the local lifestyle where one is happy with little.
It is on one of these campo’s that NOLS staff and Patagonia Year students met this week to transition from sea kayaking to the cultural section.
The lakeside campo was distinguished by green grass, tall trees and surrounding mountains. Sheep, horses, dogs and turkeys wandered around. A barn or two, and a tiny but very characteristic casa.
The students set up camp, handed in all of their kayak gear, and prepared themselves for a good dose of Chilean culture.
For the next week they will all find homes with local gaucho’s, or pobladors as they are called in Chile. The students are all doing very well and are excited for their cultural section; looking forward to speak Spanish, spend time with locals and learn all there is to know about life on a Patagonian campo.
Learning how to ride a horse with full support.
Posted by Inge • NOLS Patagonia intern
Patagonia Spring Semester 1 and 2 rendezvous
Last week our Spring Semester courses had their rendezvous in Lago Tranquilo, a beautiful location a few hours south of Coyhaique. Both courses finished their first section, either Sea Kayaking or Mountaineering. During the rendezvous the students switched gear, welcomed new instructors and prepared themselves for another adventure!
In between all the preparations were a few moments to hear some of the students stories.
Lela, Sophie and Katie • Mountaineering
“What was your best NOLS experience so far?”
“I was thinking of our independent section, towards the end of the mountaineering section. We had just trashed through swamp, after swamp, after swamp, it was raining, and I face planted... All of us were like ‘We have to get to camp, we have to get there!’! And then our friend Phil crossed a river, and he went under! And he’s all geared up, he’s trudging, he’s got his poles and he’s going! We were all cheering him on and screaming, and he came out of the water with this huge smile on his face! And then he was trying to get warm, he tripped and fell, but he got right back up and kept going! It was just one of the best experiences, it made everything so worth it. To see how far we have come. It has been awesome. And not just that moment, but the whole independent section. Learning how to do things on your own put everything in perspective, everything the instructors have taught us. It was really cool to be on your own, and feel really confident that we could do that.”
Beatrice, Charlotte, Mckala, Spencer, Aaron sharing their adventures with me • Kayaking
“The best part? I would say the people, honestly. If you had to pick a best thing, I think it is spending time with everybody. Building a community.”
“Can you give an example of a time when you especially felt that connection?”
“There was one day where all of our tents got submerged. The tide came up so high that some of our tents were - there were waves breaking into them! And everyone was under one tarp, just sitting there watching our tents go under water.”
“There was nothing we could do! The beach was really narrow, there was a forrest right behind it. So there was nowhere we could move the tents to. So we had to watch it happen.”
“We had to accept it! Just let it happen. We were all just drinking mate and laughing; ‘I guess we’ll have to bilge pump the tents out!’”
“Yeah! Mark and I took a pot and pan from the kitchen set and bailed out our tent!”
“I’ve never had to sponge out a tent before, it was crazy!”
“It was a beautiful day too, it was stunning! It wasn’t even a stormy day. There was just no more beach, no more else to go.”
“But the fact that we were all together, and everyone was able to laugh about it. I don’t think anybody was upset. Everyone was just sort of like ‘Oh, well.. This is happening!’”
“This is why I love people who do NOLS trips! All of us were laughing, we didn’t care, we were just having a fun time.”
“Everyone’s happy, basically all the time. Which is really cool. And when you’re not, you’re able to admit that you’re struggling in that moment.”
“And then there are people there who are going to take care of you.”
Though there was not enough time to speak with all of the students, it was clear that all of them are doing very well. Their enthusiasm and excitement was almost touchable, their adventures full of Patagonia’s wilderness and newfound friendships.
Posted by Inge • NOLS Patagonia intern
Astronaut Reid Wiseman on Expedition Behavior
Astronaut and U.S. Navy Commander Reid Wiseman wrote the following missive about expeditionary behavior from low earth orbit to be read to the astronaut class of 2013 on their NOLS course. A highlight of that course was connecting with CDR Wiseman on the International Space Station via satellite phone from deep in the Wind River Range of Wyoming.
First, a little story. I was walking with five classmates, two astronauts, and two instructors. We were tired. We were dirty. We were in search of water and a campsite. We had just rapelled down a slot canyon and were now trudging along with heavy packs. Storm clouds approached and a few drops of rain started to hit my arm wiping away a thick layer of canyon dust. As I walked next to Rick Rochelle, I muttered: “Ah shit, just what we need now. Rain.” Without missing a beat, Rick turned to me and said “This rain feels AMAZING after a long hike, I love it!” He was dead on right. It did feel amazing. And I went from unhappy to loving it in one sentence.
NZ Semester Field Switches
NZ Semester Courses NZSF2 9-11-14, NZSF3 9-18-14 and NZSF4 9-25-14 all have the dubious honor of an extended period without a hot shower, in that one of their section switches takes place in the field rather than at the NOLS NZ base in Aniseed Valley.
Last week NZSF4 transitioned from hiking in Nelson Lakes National Park to canoeing on the Clarence River. The group learned a lot about "tolerating adversity and uncertainty" during their hike section, dealing with inclement spring weather and a number of athletic injuries during their journey over the rugged peaks of the top of the South Island. However, spirits were high as they regrouped and prepared for their paddle to Pacific. The group is due to emerge at the Clarence River mouth on the 17 November. They will return to NOLS briefly before heading out for their final semester section on 19 November: Sea Kayaking in Marlborough Sounds.