Alpine starts in New Zealand
The season is well underway in New Zealand with our first two New Zealand Fall Semester groups finishing their first sections and transitioning to their second sections. Both groups returned to the NOLS branch in Aniseed Valley to take showers, do laundry, read mail, swap gear and meet their new instructor teams.
NZSF-1-9/12/2013 started their semester with Mountaineering in the Southern Alps. The Arrowsmiths region of the Alps is an excellent wilderness classroom due in part to its broad range of terrain including tracks, thick bush, scree, boulders, snow fields, glaciers and tussocks. A thorough living and traveling curriculum was covered along with a basic introduction to mountaineering skills. Technical skills included ice axe use, avalanche safety, crevasse rescue and building snow anchors. The group climbed several peaks, which means they had several alpine starts -- getting up at 4 AM or earlier to be able to travel while the snow conditions were best. One of their highlights was swimming in a glacially-fed lake at the end of a long travel day.
NZSF-2-9/12/2013 began with Sea Kayaking in Marlborough Sounds. In addition to learning basic camping and outdoor living skills, they learned basic paddle strokes, kayak care and repair and methods for reading weather and sea conditions. The group saw heaps of wildlife including a good number of penguins and entire pods of dolphins leaping all around the kayaks. Weather was mixed with some sunny days plus a few days that were to windy for safe travel. On those days the group stayed on the beach and relaxed or worked on non-technical curriculum such as environmental studies and first aid. They also some very early mornings, getting up in the dark in order to paddle when the sea state was best.
Back the branch, the two groups traded stories and swapped gear. NZSF-1 is now off to Sea Kayking and NZSF-2 is off to Mountaineering. For us at the branch, it was fun to watch the students coach each other on how best to pack and prepare for their respective sections.
We'll update the blog again when these students transition to their next sections. Cheers!
Tramping the Nelson Lakes with our fourth New Zealand semester
Students on New Zealand Fall Semester, Section 4 - 09/27/2012, the final New Zealand semester of the Austral Spring season, arrived to the branch in Aiseed Valley on Thursday 26 September. After two days of prep at the branch, the group departed for the town of Kaikoura to learn more about the local culture. Next, they're off to the Nelson Lakes region for Hiking (called "tramping" down under).
A good part of the prep days involve measuring, weighing and bagging hundreds of kilos of food. These students packed enough food for 9 ration periods, with each ration period separated and moved into storage as the course gets underway. The students left the branch carrying Ration #1 -- enough pasta, spices, hot cocoa, ramen noodles, scroggin for 8 days. Their next ration period will be delivered to them out in the bush via 4WD vehicle.
Our branch is located on an old sheep farm. We use the woodshed, or former sheep shearing shed, as a staging area where students can unpack and organize their equipment. Here's the New Zealand Fall Semester, Section 4 group posing with an assortment of gear:
New Zealand Fall Semester, Section 4 - Course Calendar
Cultural: 26-27 Sept
1 – Backpacking: 27 Sept to 30 Oct
Branch switch: 30-31 Oct
2 – Sea Kayak: 31 Oct to 20 Nov
Branch Switch: 20-21 Oct
3 – Canoeing: 21 Nov to 9 Dec
Branch De-issue: 10 Dec
Course ends: 11 Dec
Clean up this weekend … anywhere!
Since 1991, Tony and Linda Brooks of Teton Village, Wyo. have invited family and friends around the country to “clean up—anytime, anywhere” to remember the earth and celebrate the life of their son Charley.
Charley graduated from a NOLS Mountaineering Course in 1990 and tragically died in a car accident soon thereafter. Since NOLS was such an important part of Charley's life, the Brooks family started the annual cleanup as a way to keep their son's memory alive while doing something good for the planet.
In addition to the cleanup, Tony and Linda also created a NOLS scholarship fund in memory of Charley, which exposes a new generation of NOLS grads each year to the wilderness skills and the conservation ethics that their son forged during his course.
Charley atop Gannet Peak.
This Saturday is the 28th, so as you begin to make weekend plans, think about what you can do to clean up in honor of a NOLS alumnus who cared passionately about the earth.
A special day in New Zealand
Today is 22 September in New Zealand and it's a special day here for several reasons. Lord of The Rings fans will know that it is Bilbo Baggins' birthday. Despite the weather, which today was a cold downpour and overcast skies, the calendar tells us it's the southern hemisphere's Spring Equinox. For us at the NOLS branch in Aniseed Valley, today our third semester starts their first section in the field: canoeing on the Clarence River.
Students on our third New Zealand Fall Semester arrived in Nelson, New Zealand, a few days ago. They spent their first two days briefing at the branch with their instructor team. The group had time to organize at their gear, bag their food, and genrally orient themselves to being in the bush for the next 77 days.
The students began their expedition in Kaikoura with the local iwi (Maori tribe) where they were able to learn about New Zealand's indigenous culture. They visited historic village sites, looked at native plants and their uses, collected shellfish and learned traditional cooking methods. They also had the honor of spending the night in the Kaikoura community marae (meeting house).
Today the group started their canoe section at the confluence of the Clarence and Acheron rivers. They will paddle for 23 days on the Clarence and finish where the river meets the Pacific ocean. This particular river provides an excellent classroom with its diverse ecosystems and progression of whitewater.
New Zealand Fall Semester - Section 3 -- 9/19/2013 Schedule:
19-20 Sept: Briefing/prep time at the NOLS Branch in Aniseed Valley
21-22 Sept: Cultural section in Kaikoura
23 Sept to 16 Oct: Canoeing
16-17 Oct: Branch switch
17 Oct to 8 Nov: Mountaineering
8-9 Nov: Field switch
9 Nov to 3 Dec: Hiking
3-4 Dec: Clean-up/de-issue/graduation at the NOLS Branch in Aniseed Valley
Elon University Gap Semester & NOLS
New branch in New Zealand welcomes first two semesters
Students on New Zealand Fall Semester Section 1 - 9/12/2013 and Section 2 - 9/12/2013, the first two semesters of the Boreal Autumn season, arrived to the branch in Aniseed Valley on Thursday 12th of September. After two days of prep at the branch, the two groups departed for the town of Kaikoura to learn more about the local culture. They will visit a Maori marae (meeting house) in the town of Kaikoura. Activities will include learning about Maori customs and traditions, a short hike, collecting shellfish on the beach and learning some Maori words and phrases.
Students began their in-town briefing days with a huge rations-packing effort; they measured, weighed and bagged hundreds of kilos of food that they will eat over the next 77 days. The second briefing day was focused on equipment. Each student spends time with an instructor and then with the Equipment Manager sorting out what gear they've brought and what they need to rent or buy. These were the first groups ever to prep at our new facility which was exciting for all of us.
Next, New Zealand Fall Semester Section 1 is off to the Arrowsmith Mountains for mountaineering.The group left the branch carrying Ration #1 -- enough pasta, spices, hot cocoa, ramen noodles, scroggin for 9 days. Their next ration period will be delivered to them out in the bush via helicopter. See below for a course calendar.
New Zealand Fall Semester Section 2 now departs to the Marlborough Sounds for sea kayaking.They are carrying everything they need for the 25-day section: all their food, fuel, equipment and more. See below for a course calendar.
NZSF-1 Course Calendar
12-13 Sept: Briefing/prep time at the NOLS Branch in Aniseed Valley
14-15 Sept: Cultural section in Kaikoura
16 Sept to 9 Oct: Mountaineering
9-10 Oct: Intown switch
11 to 30 Oct: Sea Kayaking
30-31 Oct: Intown switch
1 to 26 Nov: Hiking
26-27 Nov: Clean-up/de-issue/graduation at the NOLS Branch in Aniseed Valley
NZSF-2 Course Calendar
12-13 Sept: Briefing/prep time at the NOLS Branch in Aniseed Valley
14-15 Sept: Cultural section in Kaikoura
16 Sept to 9 Oct: Sea Kayaking
9-10 Oct: Intown switch
11 to 31 Oct: Mountaineering
1 Nov: Field switch
2 to 26 Nov: Hiking
26-27 Nov: Clean-up/de-issue/graduation at the NOLS Branch in Aniseed Valley
Water World - Lynn Petzold's 9 Favorite Backcountry Locales
NOLS Senior Field Instructor and Professional Training Account Manager, Lynn Petzold is no stranger to stunning and captivating backcountry locales. Working NOLS courses in Mexico, Chile, New Zealand, British Columbia, and the U.S. and living in Bolivia and Spain has given her access to so many beautiful spots, it came as a real surprise when she agreed to whittle down her favorite spots to just nine. While she has experienced some of these places as an instructor on NOLS courses, there are a few that she has pursued on her own accord. Here they are, in no particular order...
1) Baja coast from San Felipe to La Paz (Sea of Cortez, Baja, Mexico)
"This coastline holds a special place in my heart. I started paddling here in 1993 and since then, I've witnessed changes like development of the area and a decline in the fisheries that used to thrive along the coast. I've enjoyed reconnecting with the local Mexicans every couple of years."
"While I was paddling at sunrise one morning along the southern end of San Basilio, I encountered these formations just off the coast. There was something really captivating about the contrast between these sharp protrustions and the serene, white beaches just behind me. This area holds some great memories!"
2) El Pulpito (Sea of Cortez, Baja, Mexico)
"2009 was a great year for paddling down in Baja! There was a point at which we were able to get really close to these caverns at El Pulpito. This is a north facing wall coming straight out of the ocean near San Nicolas. When there are high winds (which is typically the case in winter) and a built up sea, this is an area that you want to steer clear of. We were lucky enough to hit it just right. Being able to get close to these features was pretty special."
3) Laguna San Ignacio (Baja, Mexico)
"I've visited San Ignacio several times. These particular photos were taken during a NOLS Alumni Trip in 2008. We were there to witness part of the annual Gray Whale migration. The Baja Pennisula is the final stop along their journey from the Chuckchi Sea (which is just north of the Bering Strait)."
4) Deer Isle Archipelago (Maine)
"Deer Isle is one of my favorite spots to paddle on the Atlantic coast. This photo was from a NOLS Alumni Trip in 2008. I'm a member of the Maine Island Trail Association, which is an organization that promotes stewardship of this Archipelago. They also provide information to members regarding camping spots, since many of the islands are privately owned."
5) Rangitata River (South Island, New Zealand)
"Rangitata River is a unique spot on the South Island of New Zealand. I lived in nearby Christchurch for a year in 1995 and on the weekends, we'd escape to the river to go rafting. It is a little more remote and off the beaten path, a favorite spot for locals. Paddling with local Kiwis made it that much more special. Their fun-loving, adventureous spirit was infectious."
"Headwaters of the Rangitata River above the gorge. This is a salmon fishery and generally a beautiful, serene spot."
6) Eastern side of Knight Island (Prince William Sound, Alaska)
"Knight Island might be my favorite spot in Prince William Sound. This area is special, simply because its fairly remote and partially protected from the ocean. This area is great for humpback whale and orca watching!"
7) Harriman Fjord (Prince William Sound, Alaska)
"In 2011, I was working a STEP course in Prince William Sound. Harriman Fjord is located at the southern end of the Chugach Range, and the surrounding terrain feels immense. Between the rain, fog, and tide-water glaciers, it seems as though you're stepping...or paddling...back in time. This location brings back many memories and is my current desktop background!"
8) Lofoten Islands (Norway)
"In the summer of 2001, I went to Norway on a personal trip to paddle with one of my students, a Semester in Patagonia grad and native Norwegian. I was attracted to explore this area after hearing about it from my friend Lena Conlan, a NOLS/WMI Instructor and co-owner of a guiding company, Crossing Latitudes, which operates in this area."
9) Coastline from Bella Bella to Port Hardy (British Columbia, Canada)
"Part of the Inside Passage, this coastline provides 'world class' paddling. Between the Pacific swell, the lush, old growth forests, and spectacular islands along the coast, this place is surrounded by beauty."
"Sunsets here are pretty special as well!"
What's next on Lynn's list?
'An amazing experience'
By Nicholas Nerli, age 14
Growing up in Lander, Wyo., where NOLS Headquarters
and NOLS Rocky Mountain are located, experiencing a NOLS course has
been on my mind since I learned what NOLS is all about. Just the thought of
being in the backcountry during summer vacation was a dream. Furthermore, the
thought of going somewhere I had never been was fascinating, so after some
serious thought, I applied to take a course with NOLS Northeast.
I was so excited when I found out I would be going and, I admit, a bit nervous. For one, I had never flown. Second, I would be living in a foreign environment. I was committing to two weeks with strangers, but I knew I was going to have the time and opportunity of my life.
Learning new skills was very important to me. Throughout my course, I was able to engage in numerous learning activities, be it cooking and baking, first aid, navigation, or, most importantly, leadership. Being a leader was such an important role during my course, and the suggestions and guidance I was given when I was in a leadership role truly benefited me. I will never forget being leader of the day, for it was difficult, but as a team we succeeded that day. That experience will always stay with me and serve me when I face obstacles, big and small.
Climbing my first Adirondack high peak was stunning in a way I can't describe. The feeling I experienced looking over the green, lush landscape, Lake Champlain, and into Vermont was amazing! One morning, we awoke at 3 a.m. to climb Noonmark Mountain and watch the sunrise. The experience and view were breathtaking. Summiting each peak was beautiful in its own unique way. You must gain this experience to understand the pure adrenaline rush.
My instructors were knowledgeable, positive, and encouraging toward everyone, creating a healthy team. We grew from each other both emotionally and physically and shared experiences I can’t do justice to in writing. Through our friendships, we recognized our strengths and improved on our weaknesses in order to become the best we could be. Without my team, I would not have learned and gained so much.
Nearly three weeks have passed since I returned home. I brought with me memories, friends, and knowledge that I could not have imagined. I have come to miss my NOLS lifestyle and especially upstate New York, which I grew to love during my time there. I hope to once again experience the beauty and uniqueness of the Northeast. I also look forward to future NOLS courses and will use the knowledge I gained to be the most successful person I can be and strive for all I hope to be. NOLS Northeast was an amazing experience.
Sharing a Love for the Outdoors: Debi and Scott Flora
“The only sticker on my banjo case is a NOLS sticker,” Scott Flora proudly told me last week.
Scott and his wife, Debi, are the parents of two NOLS graduates, one of them an employee at NOLS’ headquarters in Lander, Wyo. The Floras were introduced to NOLS through a backpacking buddy and NOLS instructor when their son and daughter were still too young to really consider the program.
No strangers to the backcountry themselves, the couple met on a cross-country skiing trip Scott was leading through Colorado State University- Pueblo (formerly the University of Southern Colorado). As their family grew and the kids got old enough to walk (most of the time) they began taking family camping and backpacking trips into the Rockies and beyond.
Years later, their son, Bradley, was considering advancing his career in the ski industry. Debi and Scott remembered the Wilderness Medicine Institute, founded near their home in Colorado. It seemed like a good fit, so Bradley journeyed to Lander to become a wilderness EMT.
Scott and Debi witnessed a growth in their son’s confidence after his course, along with an increased awareness of the safety ramifications of adventure activities. This boost was in part to the clinical time the students spent in the ER of a nearby hospital.
“He was being treated as a professional, treated with a level of responsibility,” Debi explained, “I think that had a huge impact on how he saw himself.”
Bradley also benefited greatly from the scenarios that allowed him to work as a member of a team. Overall, his NOLS training was such a positive experience that when his sister, Larkin, was looking for a gap year program, Bradley suggested that she look into the semester courses.
Larkin’s Spring Semester in Baja brought on many challenges, including being one of two female students on the course. She worked on holding her own with men, and Scott believes that she came out of it able to relate to men in a new and different way.
Larkin and her coursemates faced other challenges, including multi-day windstorms, desert heat, lack of water, and long days of paddling. They also experienced the small joys of an unexpected citrus orchard, and a pod of dolphins playing near their boats, along with the cultural opportunities traveling in another country provided. For Larkin, these moments made the discomfort worth it.
This controlled adversity can be built into a course, such as an extra hard day of hiking, or it can come from external effects such as the weather. Debi and Scott feel that this adversity helped make Larkin’s transition to college the next fall smoother.
“Parents have concerns about their children going off to college, and having an intermediate step for kids is a good thing,” Scott stated, “When you think of a college student going through a course, and then they get to college and they realize that ‘Oh, this isn’t so bad!’ They are better prepared for adversity and challenges in life because they’ve experienced adversity and challenges at NOLS.”
The Floras believe that NOLS, and all extended wilderness travel, has a transformative affect on young people especially. For this reason they are strong proponents of wilderness education.
“NOLS graduates bring their personal growth back into the world,” Debi insisted. “How they interact in their job, with their family, their friends, their community is all effected by how they feel coming out of NOLS.”
Because of this, Debi and Scott have decided to donate annually to NOLS. They believe that outdoor education will contribute to making the world a better place and want to see the school continue well into the future.visit donate.nols.edu.
Drumroll, please ...
It has arrived. Thirty thousand copies of the shiny new course catalog have been unloaded and piled up at NOLS Headquarters, and another 30,000 will be shipped to potential students soon.
We thought we’d introduce you.
Like last year, the NOLS course catalog has a clean, square shape and inspiring personal accounts to make the NOLS experience relatable.
With this catalog, though, we have dedicated more pages to courses and NOLS locations, specifically for the upcoming season. In fact, it’s dedicated almost entirely to the winter and spring course offerings at NOLS because we are going to publish three seasonal catalogs a year from now on. This will allow us to tailor the information in each catalog to each season to give you more helpful information about our course offerings.
You can look forward to a summer course catalog in January and a fall course catalog in April. All three catalogs will be available iPad apps shortly after their publication.
If you haven’t already requested a catalog, do so here or keep an eye out for the app, to be released soon!
Permalink | Posted by Casey Dean on Aug 28, 2013 in the following categories: Alaska, Australia, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Northeast, Pacific Northwest, Patagonia, Professional Training, Rocky Mountain, Scandinavia, Southwest, Teton Valley, Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus