Words from the Wilderness

Adjustment. Adjustment is the biggest lesson that I have learned so far on my NOLS course. First, I had to adjust to my fellow Gap Semester peers (which was quite easy to do since each person brings a variety of amazing strengths and traits). Then I had to physically acclimatize to the 10,000 feet of elevation – quite different from my flat North Dakota home. The terrain on our hikes is vigorous – complete with peaks, glaciers, and lakes – but the views and sense of accomplishment after a long days hiking is worth the struggles. Daily matters, like sleeping arrangements and cooking, also took several days to get the hang of. Setting up our tents each night, learning how to tie the truckers hitch, and figuring out my little issues, but being cocooned in my warm sleeping bag and talking with my tent-mates at night is very cozy and recovering. These first few days have been full of adjustments but I believe that learning occurs outside of personal comfort zones and that’s exactly where this NOLS course takes me. -Laurie Heggedal

The NOLS course has been awesome. I am learning lots of little pro-tips for the outdoors and getting good at reading and orienting a map. Our group is amazing and led by amazing instructors. Things I glad I brought: puffy coat, washcloth, extra bandana, pocket knife. We have many days left but we are gonna grow and become experts of the wilderness, learning leadership and environmental science. -Andrew Novinski

This has for sure been a new experience for me so far. I have never even camped before. It has for sure been exciting. I have set up my first tent, trail blazed, and have navigated my way through the wilderness. I look forward to seeing what is next for me to learn and to grow as a person. I know this is going to e tough but I know with my group’s help I will get through it! With a smile of course! See you soon mom and dad. I am exited to tell my friends and my family all about my adventures out here. It is truly an experience of a life time. -Jill Salvucci

Day 4: Hiking day. Today I was in a hiking group with Henry, Jill, Gabe and leader Christina. The group dynamic was really great. We kept the conversation going, which really helped keep my mind focused and appreciate where I was. Also, I got the change to lead my hiking group to our desired camp site. Being your own GPS is difficult at times but I am starting to feel a lot more oriented with the maps. We had a six hour hike but a good group dynamic made the time really pass by. This was my first hard hiking day. -Marta Djalleta

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