Final Blogs from NOLS

Today was the first day of independent student travel.  Just yesterday, we’d gone up and over Goat Flats then slowly worked our way down the steep side of a mountain to drop into the lake basin of our campsite.  It was a long, hard day, and one that I wasn’t sure I could’ve gotten through without the presence of an instructor.  I was tired and uncertain so needless to say, an entire hike with just my peers made me rather nervous.  I made this clear to some, but kept a positive attitude when it came time for my group to start the hike.  Initially, I wasn’t very confident in our navigation skills and my apprehension proved to be valid, as we got lost within the first half hour.  As it became clear that none of us were certain of our whereabouts, we paused to construct a plan b.  After some deliberation, all were confident in the alternative route, and we began a steep climb towards a saddle we’d hiked past earlier that morning.  Due to the ambiguity of the terrain, we set a heading and kept checking our compass as we weaved around dead tree fall, large boulder fields, and other obstacles.  After accidently losing much of our elevation, crossing two unmarked streams and stumbling upon a waterfall, my group began to grow frustrated and tired.  Tension was high between us four lost, sick, and dehydrated campers.  We decided to take a packs-off break to snack and rest our sore feet.  A leisurely twenty minutes later, we set off with almonds in our bellies and a newfound determination to reach the top of the mountain.  With a good pace and even more importantly, a good attitude we reached our goal after just another forty-five minutes of hiking.  The day had been exhausting and we still had a few more miles to go the next day, but in that moment I couldn’t have been more proud of my group.  We had all pushed ourselves beyond what we expected from the day and rallied to support each other.  Even more than our personal victory of reaching the saddle, I sensed a greater pride and confidence in our ability to deal with adversity.  My fears of getting lost came true, but they taught me more than I could have imagined.  Together with patience and perseverance we corrected our mistakes and accomplished our objectives.

Today on our second day of ISGE we decided to really push ourselves, and it was great! Today was our “peak” day where we hiked 7 miles AND climbed to the peak of a mountain along the way. It was an insane experience because everyone was so determined and motivated the entire trip. We hiked from our start location to the base of the mountain approximately 2 miles away in the early morning and then quickly climbed to the peak, without our packs. Being on the top of the mountain was a truly breathtaking experience where we could look out in every direction and just see for miles and miles of this amazing area full of cool valleys and treacherous cliff faces. After our peak experience we returned to our packs and continued for another 5 miles to our final “X” where the rest of our group and the instructors would join us the next day. In total today we went just over 9 miles in 7 hours which was truly impressive and I was insanely proud of my group. Continue reading “Final Blogs from NOLS”

More Thoughts from NOLS

Today was the first day in which we hiked without the instructors and I was a Leader of the day. My group did amazing! We were the last group to leave and the first to arrive at camp. It felt very rewarding to hear the feedback from my group as well. They said that I was an excellent leader today and that I set the foundation for success, as well as noting that I just seem to have a strong leadership presence. I love hearing feedback from people because it brings to my attention the things that I can work on, as well as the things that I am already doing well. Some of the group has already started to countdown the number of days remaining and the thought of returning to the “front-country” gives me chills.

We came across many bushes of berries during our hike this afternoon. Instead of bending down to pick them like everyone else, I sat down with my pack and started munching. I was immediately hit with a wave of nostalgia as I remembered the times I would do the same in strawberry fields as a child. Here I was sweaty, dirty and tired. This wasn’t me. Or was it? I soon realized that that was why I was here because maybe I didn’t know myself or my capabilities as well as I thought I did. And maybe it didn’t’ matter that I didn’t like being dirty and sweaty because I knew or hoped that it would all be worth it in the end. Continue reading “More Thoughts from NOLS”